by Fred Godlash, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire/LA
and John Leung, SEO/SEM Specialist, Business Wire/SF
Although it may seem like PR101, it should be clearly stated that a press release is an effective way of engaging targeted audiences by having influential media outlets, social advocates and consumers discover your story. It is after the discovery process that you gain what is referred to as “earned media”– meaning publicity is attained, not purchased, from promotional efforts rather than advertising.
This point was recently brought up in response to Google taking a hard stance against embedding anchor text in press releases in order to gain PageRank. How they relate to press releases are as follows:
- Press releases will be treated as a paid placement by Google.
- Optimized anchor text links in a press release distribution will be considered “unnatural” and will not pass PageRank in Google search results.
What this means is that Google is stopping unnatural link building from press release distribution. The search engine leader is attempting to give the user the best experience possible and the latest algorithm update will look for “link schemes” used to manipulate search results. John Mueller, one of Google’s lead Webmaster Trends Analysts, talked in a recent video hangout about the way Google will look at press releases. Mueller said, “When [press release issuers create a link to] themselves we do not consider that natural. Promoting is perfectly fine but it is not considered a natural link. We are looking for an external person to say, ‘I am recommending this website or article.’”
Press Release Links Misunderstood
Press releases can generate natural links that can help add ranking to your company, but there is a misconception on how this is achieved. A poorly written press release that is blindly spammed to the masses does not have any authority to garner any links and will be ignored. In contrast, a well-conceived release that has a unique voice can get coverage from news organizations, can be shared over social outlets, and can generate plenty of links that are third-party votes of confidence that the message was newsworthy. In other words, it is not only the press release distribution system that is generating the links, but the results of your PR efforts.
For example, if the Associated Press picked up your press release and did a national story, you would not gain links simply from having your story on AP, but from the subsequent results of that story. The benefit happens when millions of readers discover your story and engage with your company or brand. They may choose to link to you or share that information on their social networks.
The true value in distributing a targeted release via the wire is not simply to gain links, but the influence, brand awareness and reputation you gain when you distribute your press release so widely that it is found and shared in various media or social outlets worldwide.
What is Business Wire Doing About the Latest Algorithm Change?
Google Webmaster Tools says that to prevent PageRank from passing on anchor links within a press release you can do one of the following:
- Add a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag.
- Redirect the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file.
When you use Business Wire, we do all of this on your behalf to ensure that your releases get the most online visibility and ranking benefit from our vast distribution network worldwide.
Business Wire uses the “Google-approved” method for carrying links when we activate what we refer to as “smartlinks” in a customer’s press release. By redirecting the anchor links in all press releases carried on our network, and by adhering to Google best practices when distributing a press release to news outlets, financial markets, disclosure systems, investors, information web sites, databases, social influencers and other audiences, we represent authority as a reputable service that has been distributing press releases since 1961. We simply will not publish press releases that are not in accordance with Business Wire’s policies and procedures.
When considering the latest and constantly evolving changes from Google, it is always good practice to simply focus on writing a thought-provoking newsworthy press release which incorporates meaningful, relevant links. This will ensure that your release will create genuine interest and attract influential media outlets and influencers to engage with your content. Don’t overthink the SEO aspect, but rather concentrate on original, engaging, shareable content using the best distribution possible to reach your audience.