Press Releases as a way of letting masses know about what is happening with your business have been around for ages, even since before the Internet. Business owners would post short notices in the press about their recent happenings, introduction of new features, goods or services. Today mass media have generally moved online, and press releases are still used far and wide, but their power and nature have undergone a few transformative shifts. Press releases started being used for SEO in the mid-2000s, but since then search engine SEO policies have changed drastically and SEO marketers were forced to adapt to new reality. So, are press releases, as an instrument that’s quite ancient in Internet terms, still something worth putting your effort to? Let’s take a closer look.
When used for SEO, a Press Release is a piece of content that has a specific format and includes particular formatting and SEO-specific elements. Here are some key points you should keep in mind when creating a SEO press release:
Length: Keep your content between 400 and 600 words long. As it is a piece of news, it shouldn’t be a longread, but neither should it be a twitter post.
Unique content: Write something new, not just a rehash of what has already been written on the topic. This means that there should be a key newsworthy event in your description: an announcement of a new feature release, an acquisition or a merger, new strategy, new product or service, new partnership, etc.
Content format: Include a headline, introduction, and body paragraphs with supporting evidence, conclusion, and sources if available. Make sure you fact-check everything and write in a neutral, factual style. Press release is not about giving opinions.
Supporting Material: Add quotes, relevant statistics, images, and video (if applicable). When a press release is a wall of text, albeit a small one, readers are prone to scrolling right through it. For example, here’s some data from Semrush about user engagement with a press release depending on what kind of supporting material it contains:
Relevant Keywords: Choose relevant keywords you want your content to rank for and include them in the title and content.
Optimized Headline: Create a headline that is optimized for the chosen keywords.
Compelling Summary: Write a newsworthy, exciting summary for the article, as depending on your distribution resources, some users will not see your press release in its entirety unless they click on the summary.
Relevant Backlinks: Include backlinks to your resource where applicable. It’s best not to overdo it with backlinks and to link not only to your homepage.
Crafting a press release is half the matter. Distributing it so that it reaches your audience in a timely manner and that audience is warm and interested to receive it is no less important. This is usually the part that takes the most effort and resources. Here are a few tips to observe if you want to save yourself time, money and avoid a lot of disappointment and resources gone to waste.
The first thing you should do is define your target audience correctly. Draw a user persona if you have to. Include as many factors as possible to describe a reader who would be potentially most interested in reading what you have to say and clicking on that backlink. Demographic information, such as age, location, occupation, etc., behavioral and user patterns which define where you reader is most likely to come across your piece of content should all be included.
Make a prioritized list of media and platforms you want to feature your press release. But researching news outlets, blogs and press release aggregators is not the only thing you should know about them. Of course, sorting them by relevance to your niche, popularity and other factors is important. But you should also make your press release easily adaptable, at least for the top entries on your list. A popular platform posts about each new piece on twitter? create a catchy twitter post to go with your press release. A platform requires you to add an image or a meme? Do that. Make several versions that precisely match posting requirements and guidelines, at least for the most coveted distribution channels.
User activity tends to have peaks and falls and it’s best to schedule your press releases accordingly. It is also important not to overdo it. Post often enough to keep up user awareness, but do not exploit every single little piece of news by overposting, you will annoy readers all too soon.
It is important to use tooled outreach as well as direct outreach. Contact opinion makers, influencers and journalists directly as well as use various tools for syndicated distribution.
Depending on what piece of news you have, it may be more interesting to people in some locations than for general audiences. For example, if you are opening a distribution point in a certain city, it is only good PR for audiences in other countries, but a potential partnership for readers in that city. It means, you can invest a bit more in coverage in that particular geographical location.
Depending on your domain, there may be particular resources that are unique to it that may act as news outlets and publish their own news. They can be excellent destinations for your press release posting, as their audience may match your target audience very closely. Do research and make a list of such websites and put them higher up on your posting list.
Some of your best posting options may not have a website per se, but are simply widely followed social media accounts whose main topic coincides with your domain. Make sure you consider the specific of particular social media platforms and not just provide a link to a generic press release. If it’s an Instagram account, create good visuals. Suggest an appropriate twitter or facebook post to the respective account owners. It will help a better interaction with their audience. Research trending hashtags in your niche and use them accordingly.
Press releases can be distributed just like other types of content when it comes to influencer integrations. This can be an excellent way to promote a new feature or product as well as gain some great coverage and coveted backlinks.
Take care to scrupulously monitor your press release performance and statistics. It will help you to measure effectiveness of various channels, adaptation techniques, audience response, and make corrections in the future. Use specific monitoring tools that provide a lot of analytic data and stats. It is especially important to monitor your conversion rates and the further user journey through your sales funnel. Say, your backlinks are working, but is it enough? Does your potential customer land at a good place on your website? Do they easily find what they are looking for?
Not all content goes viral, but you can create incentives for regular users to further share and repost your content, for example, offering a discount for a repost or hosting repost and share ruffles where each repost or social media interaction allows users to have a chance to win a prize from you.
Although the times when press releases were a major SEO tool are gone, they are still an important part of any SEO strategy and there is no reason to think this will change any time soon. Some SEO benefits of press releases are more likely to be indirect, such as positive brand awareness, credibility, expertise, and the potential to drive traffic to a website, they can still add up to your SERP performance:
This is where press releases are specifically beneficial, especially if your business and sales are primarily locally oriented.
Press releases can help protect online reputation by providing a company’s side of the story first in case of a crisis. This can also be a SEO benefit, because coverage tends to help disputing potential search engine recriminations.
Press releases can attract visitors to a website and encourage them to share articles or videos from the site on their own sites, resulting in quality links
Press releases have higher chances to become viral, gain a social media traction and garner many mentions, naturally acquired backlinks and social signals.
Press releases are a perfectly valid way to gain excellent backlinks from media with high domain authority. What’s best, it’s likely that they will stay in place for a long time, as mass media tend not to delete their news or at least to archive them online.
It may seem that posting press release can do wonders for your SEO campaign, but let us slightly disabuse you of that notion. While press release is a legit SEO tool, it is only one of them and should never be used as a sole means or the main focus of your SEO campaign. Here are some sad truths about press releases that you should keep in mind:
Nope. Posting press releases will not skyrocket your content into the SEO stratosphere. But posting regularly and observing the rules will add up to your SEO efforts and help to differentiate your backlink profile.
You should never spam indiscriminately with your press releases. Rather, take care to craft quality press releases and distribute them relevantly and not too often, doing otherwise will have an opposite effect.
Again, nope. Every news outlet where you publish should be relevant to your domain and topic. And every topic you build your press release around should be newsworthy.
Absolutely not. Take extra care not to oversindicate and watch out for duplicate content. Excessive syndication can even lead to search engine penalties. Besides, it’s simply a good tone to customize your press releases for platform specifics.
An oldie, but a goodie, press releases are still a perfectly legit way to enhance your SEO, increase your brand awareness and use your noteworthy events as a chance to speak up. Although not a flagship SEO tool, press releases, when done right, make a good addition to your SEO strategy and have an overall good effect on your backlink profile, especially if you play by the rules.