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Links are the currency of the web and are quickly becoming more important to savvy PR practitioners and communicators. Links help determine where you rank in searches and drive qualified traffic to your website, blog, and social presences such as Twitter.
Press releases can be a great source of links for your company, and we get questions all the time on how to best employ them in practice. This post will address some of the most common questions and dig into the why behind linking techniques.
Q: Do links going to a specific page on my website hurt my homepage’s Google ranking?
This is a pretty big question with regards to SEO and search rankings. The short answer is no.
Links to specific pages on your website will not hurt the ranking of your homepage for relevant search terms; they will simply boost the ranking of that specific page and the site as a whole. There are two big advantages to linking to a specific page within a website rather than the homepage.
First off, company homepages are often more general in focus, appeal to all possible audiences, and cover a broad range of topics. A page deeper within a website is usually more specific and will more quickly direct relevant readers (and potential customers) towards completing your desired actions such as filling out a form, signing up for newsletter, calling to inquire, requesting a brochure, or ordering online.
Secondly, deeper pages often hold greater appeal to search engines for more specific long tail search queries. So while your company’s homepage may be better optimized for more general search queries (ex. ‘online university’, ‘pet food’) pages deeper within your site will be geared towards more specific search queries (ex. ‘accredited online MBA program’, ‘organic cat food’).
Experiment with different strategies depending on the release content and campaign to see what works best for you.
Q: Are more links always better? How many links are appropriate for my release?
Less is often more when it comes to the number of links on a page.
Google assigns each site and individual page on the Internet a certain amount of power called PageRank (often referred to as “Google Juice”). Google states that they “use more than 200 signals, including our patented PageRank™ algorithm, to examine the entire link structure of the web and determine which pages are most important.” Your PageRank can range from 0 to 10, and when another site such as your Business Wire press release links to you, that site passes PageRank to you. Calculating PageRank is somewhat complicated, but it essentially boils down to adding up the quality and quantity of links pointing at each page of your site. Tools including the free Google toolbar can give you an estimate of your score.
Within a page, each link passes an equal share of PageRank to outbound links as the image below illustrates.
So while you can include a hundred links in a release, you will likely be diluting their individual value. It’s often a better idea to prioritize and judiciously link only to your most important destination pages.
Q: What text should I use in my links?
Along with PageRank or similar criteria used by Bing or Yahoo, search engines also use link anchor text to help determine the relevancy of a page. Employing descriptive anchor text is a great opportunity to tell search engines more about you and direct more relevant traffic your way. When deciding what to use, try to think like a searcher. Create a list of search terms that you would expect to bring people to your site and use some of the terms you come up with. Try not to settle on links such as ‘Click Here’ whenever possible.
I hope this post helps you craft a linking strategy in your future press releases. Please let me know if you have any linking questions or comments.