Is SEO Useless for Press Releases?

by Fred Godlash, Marketing Specialist, Business Wire/LA

We’ve received a lot of inquiries about our recent blog post, “Discovery, Not Link Building, is the Objective of Your Press Release,” which discusses the challenges Google is putting in front of press release issuers. One thing we want to make clear: Press Release SEO is alive and well.

Customers that use Business Wire have said that they had not seen any differences in their service, and that’s because we have taken care of the technical issues – adding “nofollow” to their links and redirecting through a robots.txt page – to ensure that we’re meeting those challenges on their behalf.

We are still distributing to our global network and getting great results as we always have. Clients are reporting that they still see their stories in Google, and many of them are wondering what has really changed. The answer is, “Not much.”Empty Corn Field

Our service follows the guidelines set by Google, which prevents press release issuers from trying to cheat the search engines by submitting poor-quality, keyword-stuffed releases that shouldn’t have been released in the first place. What we have seen is a return to the more traditional press release, where clients are optimizing the release so it is more searchable and intuitive to the user instead of trying to trick the system to obtain better search results for the company brand. Google made the change to provide better, more relevant results when users perform searches, and in line with the new policy, Business Wire has always promoted reputation and quality over quantity and cheap gimmicks.

So is SEO now useless for press releases? Not at all. A press release needs to be optimized for the search engines. The only difference is that you need to earn search engine results with relevant, quality content, not with tons of SEO keywords linking repeatedly to the same pages.

Here are some quick tips to help you write a properly optimized press release.

Identify a strong theme and use a handful of searchable keywords that support your story.      

  • Target keywords that sum up the theme of the press release and can be used to search for the brand.
  • Think search-friendly terms when optimizing your press release. If in doubt, try doing a search for a similar brand or theme.
  • Many free keyword tools are available to help plan, write and execute the perfect message, including Google’s keyword tool.

Write a succinct headline that is compelling, keyword-rich and clearly states the theme of your press release.               

  • The headline becomes the press release’s title tag in the HTML source code. This is one of the primary elements that search engines use to index your press release.
  • Keep in mind that Google typically displays only 63 characters of a headline. Google also recommends headlines between 2 and 22 words for optimum visibility.
  • You can expand on the headline in the press release subhead and summary.

Create a first sentence that accurately reflects the content of your press release.

  • Your first sentence, which is visible to search engines as your release’s meta description, should state the primary message of the press release. What are you trying to communicate? Be clear.
  • Use keywords wisely throughout the release. Search engines penalize for over-optimization and favor keyword themes with a clear message.

Add hyperlinks with anchor text that helps the flow of the page and guides the reader to navigate the links.

  • Link to web pages that are relevant and contain the word or phrase from which you are linking.
  • Encourage sharing by providing quick link buttons to social media.

It’s business as usual at Business Wire, and we’re happy about that. We encourage all of our clients to always think of crafting a well thought out, relevant release that will provide new information to the user. Focus and return to the days of the traditional press release when the content of the message drove the release, not the keywords that can potentially show up in a search result. If you do the hard work and use the best distribution network available, you will gain the attention of influential outlets that will in return, spread the word and, eventually, the search engines will listen. To paraphrase the famous line from the film Field of Dreams- “If you build it, the search engines will come.”

7 Responses to Is SEO Useless for Press Releases?

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  4. > …and redirecting through a robots.txt page…

    Can you explain what this means? How do you redirect through a robots.txt?

    • Phil Dennison, Senior Marketing Specialist, Business Wire says:

      We were a little imprecise in our wording there – to be more specific, redirect your links through a page that your site’s robots.txt has instructed the search engines not to index.

  5. […] Business Wire – Is SEO Useless for Press Releases? Claims to have “taken care of the technical issues – adding ‘nofollow’ to their links and redirecting through a robots.txt page.” I’m unclear about what they mean by “redirecting through a robots.txt page.” […]

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