There was a time, long before search engine optimization overtook the way people create content, that press releases were reserved for seriously impactful announcements about a company’s new products, a new direction, or things like mergers and acquisitions. Press releases were infrequent, important, and noteworthy for the wide community of business professionals and customers who had a vested interest in that company. And then, starting about a decade ago, website owners discovered that a press release or two could actually boost their website’s ranking at major search engine like Google.
After it was discovered that press releases were a really big deal for search engine optimization, their importance began to wane, at least online. Over the next ten years, websites would release statements not only announcing new products and business directions, but also announcing things like how great their business was, and how high they were aiming for the new year. Press releases began stating the quality of products, rather than the novelty of them. In time, most people learned to ignore press releases. So did the search engines.
Do Fewer Blasts & Back Link Existing Press Releases More
Search engines have long recognized the potential for press release abuse and, with recent algorithm updates, Google has addressed this issue head-on. In recent years, the company’s Penguin and Panda updates have sought to reduce the importance of press releases, largely because they are so frequently abused. They’re also not very good for link building, especially within the new paradigm being promoted for today’s major search engines. There are three core pieces within that paradigm. A good link building strategy is one that shows all of the following three qualities:
1. It’s aimed at gaining new links from unique top-level domains around the Internet
2. It incorporates social signals and engagement
3. It promotes natural linking conventions and patterns
Each of these three components is completely ignored by those individuals who push out press releases on a daily or weekly basis through the major agencies on line. For a more in-depth look at how these three conventions are essentially being ignored, keep reading.
New Links from Unique Top-Level Domain Names Online
At first, press releases probably seem like a rather genius way to boost a website’s search engine rankings. The links that come into the website are from a large number of online press release firms and syndication agencies, and each link is highly unique. The problem arises the second time around, when website owners send out yet another press release about how great they are, rather than some big news even that’s going to characterize their business. The inbound links generated are, once again, coming from major online press release sites and syndication operations. This time, they are not unique.
Time after time, these links get less unique, more repetitive, and far less effective. In the eyes of Google’s new algorithms, constant links from PR agencies represents a case of abusing the system. If the search engine does determine that a site us sending out abusive and unnecessarily frequent press releases, they’ll further punish the website with an even lower ranking. In the worst cases, they’ll remove the site from Google’s index altogether. That’s a very, very big loss.
Incorporation of Engagement and Social Signals
The release of Google Penguin focused quite a bit on social media referrals and user engagement, and the follow-up Google Panda increased the importance of those activities even more, in its own way. Today, website owners who want to move upward in Google’s search engine rankings need to dramatically improve their user engagement by encouraging their readers to like, tweet, and comment, on a regular basis. Press releases generally do not encourage this at all.
The only real way for a website to boost its search engine rankings would be if a press release inspired someone to go to Facebook, find the company who released the statement, and then click through to that company’s website directly from the social network as a result of the press release. If that sounds convoluted, that’s because it is. It’s highly unlikely to happen, and that means bad news for any website that frequently releases news statements to the major PR wires online.
Natural Linking Patterns and Conventions
A uniform press release is sent to a large number of online PR wires, who all link to the author’s website using the same anchor text. This would only be natural if it occurred one time, on one website, and not in aggregate on tens or hundreds of press release sites. This type of linking is largely ignored by Google if it occurs a large number of times, netting websites no tangible gain in rankings at any major search engine.
All Hope is Not Lost: Simply Don’t Abuse Press Releases
When press releases are sent out to the major PR websites infrequently, they do benefit the author’s website. That’s because these unnatural linking styles are an exception, not a rule, and Google rewards them appropriately. When determining whether to send out a news release, be sure to consider the following questions:
– Is this information unique?
– Is this information newsworthy?
– Have I sent out a press release recently?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then it’s probably a good idea to stay away from issuing a press release. Instead, use a guest post to tell existing customers about exciting new changes in a company’s products. This guest post can also be used as a promotional article, and posting it on an industry blog is a far better use of resources than posting it to a press release website online. Furthermore, because most PR websites require a paid membership in order to distribute news statements, this actually saves quite a bit of money for website owners.
Press Releases Make Excellent Buffer Sites
Instead of churning out press releases, consider employing link building tactics to support the releases that already exist.
All things are good in moderation, including the use of press release to discuss exciting new developments about a company’s products and services.