by Chris Horton
Maybe Matt Cutts, of Google fame, was in a rare Christmas mood, but in the middle of a Google forum post, he shook up the SEO world once again by announcing that press releases have virtually no effect on your rankings. Something we were well aware of, but still a relief when a Google rep confirms your assumptions. So since he brought it up, let’s talk about this briefly.
Press releases only serve to get your newsworthy item out in front of as many eyeballs as possible. The goal is to hopefully be picked up by a news outlet, be it magazine, newspaper, radio or TV and get the massive promotion blitz that only they can create.
The problem is that most businesses and others seeking to reap SEO benefits have always touted it as a great tool for ranking increases and truthfully, it’s never been effective in that manner. It doesn’t mean that you should abandon press releases, because they can still be a powerful tool if it’s used effectively and realistically. But what exactly does that mean?
To start, the free press release sites are pretty much worthless. Not only are they misused by millions of marketers, but the media outlets almost never utilize them for their news. Use a true PR agency like PRWeb or PRNewswire for your press release because those agencies have wide distribution models that actually get viewed. The unspoken media outlets perception is that any release worth reading should at least be invested in by its creator. Even if your item doesn’t get picked up, you will still acquire a good amount of links on various web based news sites and that does have an effect on your rankings in some cases.
Secondly, make sure that it’s actually worth doing a press release. Pieces worth a release would be big events that need extra promotion like celebrity appearances, major changes or acquisitions in your business and similar types of events. Not only will it be worth the investment in time and money, but it will also have a larger possibility of actually being picked up by the media outlets.
The main confusion caused by Matt Cutts statement comes from the misconception that you can achieve a direct ranking push (or nudge) to your site by doing regular press releases and that’s simply never been the case. There are no case studies that we’ve seen that indicate that weekly press releases have any notable impact on rankings, so don’t waste your hard earned money.
As mentioned, press releases should be used only for big events and newsworthy items and submitted via professional press release channels in order to reap the most benefits. Those benefits would be a possible increase in links and increased visibility from individuals that could see the content of the press release.
Matt Cutts statement that you shouldn’t expect the release to provide any rankings impact is essentially true. Press releases are notoriously littered with link bait and keyword stuffing and that practice has severely degraded their worth over the years. Additionally, most of the sites that do re-post press releases are dynamically generated and that practice devalues the quality of the link unless the release is lucky enough to land on a site that is highly relevant to your industry and even then, the impact is minimal.
So with press releases, simply be careful about letting your expectations get the best of you. If you find yourself constructing a press release for SEO purposes, you’re simply wasting your time. If you can’t imagine your local news anchor talking about it on the 6 o’clock news, it probably is a pointless venture.