Stop Writing Press Releases For The Wrong Reasons
August 27th, 2013 by
As many in the SEO industry already know, Google is not impressed with link building strategies of old, especially when those links are coming from optimized anchor text in press releases. New guidelines are decreasing the SEO value of press releases and their use for link building at all is up in the air, so now seems to be the perfect time to refocus the purpose of your press releases.
Gone are the days of pointless keyword-stuffed press releases being used to generate valuable backlinks–but that’s good news. Even with the new guideline regarding optimized anchor text, press releases can still be part of a comprehensive link building strategy. More importantly, they can be a great addition to your content marketing strategy, which you should never ignore. A good press release can still reach people and can still bring people to your site, and isn’t that the whole point after all?
When it comes to quality, you’ve got to start at the beginning—your topic. The key word here is newsworthiness. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t publish a press release unless the media is hounding you for a comment, but something does need to have happened or be about to happen. Opening a new location? Launching a new website? Got a new certification? Great! You’ve got a press release. Unfortunately, it won’t look like this:
Alternatively, if you play it right, you can also offer some comment or insight into other news events that are related to your industry. This is a popular strategy when study findings or reports are released. This can sound misleadingly simple, but things can go laughably wrong when the connection between the event/report/etc., that you are piggybacking on is a stretch. Newsjacking can have negative consequences on your reputation when it’s done poorly, and you want to add something to the conversation, not just recount it. You should also make sure that you have fully investigated whatever it is that you are commenting on. You don’t want to end up coming off as uninformed.
Though the topic is important, it’s not the only thing that you need to consider when preparing a press release. While you might have come to press release writing as part of an SEO campaign, don’t forget that this is an established form of communication with rules and standards. If you want to have your press release published on reputable sites, it’s going to need to pass review. These might not be stringent inspections, but you’ll still want your release to look professionally written by someone with journalism experience.
The most important thing to consider with the writing is probably whether the press release emphasizes the news you are writing to share. The best way to do this is by writing in the Inverted Pyramid style. This means that the vital facts are all included in the first paragraph, and everything else follows in order of importance. Though no writer wants to plan for people to stop reading what they have written, the point is that if the reader were to not finish your press release, they would already have read the most important bits. However, the goal is the same as all content — write for people, not machines. It probably won’t even do you much good to write a press release for machines at this point.
In fact, it looks like it might hurt your campaign to write for the machine now. Though you can read a more in-depth guide to safely linking in press releases here, there are a few things to keep in mind:
You need to be linking to content that is of high quality and is interesting. This content should also not be stuffed with keywords.
The content should be relevant to the press release, meaning if a reader wanted to learn more about what you are writing about, the link would bring them to a page that gives them what they are looking for.
The links should be inserted naturally. This means no more keyword-rich anchor text. Google has caught on to this and does not like it.
Here’s the bottom line: even with the devalued links, you can and should still use press releases to your advantage, but they need to be done right.