Hi Dave. I’m working on some publicity for my little company and have just learned about the importance of search engine optimization. My Mom tells me, however, that visibility comes through press releases, but I have a sense she’s hopelessly old school. What’s your take on this?
I think you and your Mom are both spot-on, actually. How’s that for a diplomatic answer? Actually, I asked my friend and colleague Doyle Albee of Metgzer Associates about this: he’s a new media savvy public relations guy. Here’s what he shared with me…
Actually, Dave, news releases can provide some of the best search engine optimization (SEO) for your Web site or blog – and in many cases, distribution is free.
To explain, let me back up a step. News releases (or press releases) were once printed documents that were mailed from a company or a company’s public relations agency to members of the media. They were sometimes reprinted verbatim (typically in smaller publications) or often rewritten or used as fact sheets to generate a story or announcement in a news outlet.
Today, news releases are generally distributed electronically and often appear on a number of consumer facing Web sites, like Google News or Yahoo! Finance. The larger and more established distribution services – Business Wire and PR Newswire, for example – also have contracts with many major media outlets to run appropriate news releases on designated areas of their Web sites.
As a result, a news release with a business angle may very well be reprinted on Web sites like Forbes.com. While it’s important not to confuse a news release reprint with an article in Forbes, or even an editorial piece on the Web site itself, it’s still a nice placement for your news release, and it certainly helps with SEO.
Because of this direct placement, I believe there are now two kinds of news releases: those sent to members of the media, and those that are used only for SEO purposes. Here’s how they break out.
Let’s say I have a client that is ready to release a new piece of software with a potentially significant market – that’s newsworthy and falls into the first category. I should develop a news release, send it via an established distribution service (like those mentioned above) and contact appropriate reporters, editors and bloggers directly about writing a story (make sure your pitch is good – see some of Dave’s blog entries about that!). But I’m not done. I should also put that release on all the free distribution services I can. To find options, just search for “free press release distribution”. Reporters, for the most part, don’t look at these services regularly, but the search engines do. One good news release could easily get you 20 or more valuable incoming links to your blog or Web site.
There’s an added benefit: when a prospect searches for you, they’ll find all those hits generated from your news releases, and that’s looks very good for you.
The second kind of release – those used only for SEO – is only sent to the free services. These releases simply have limited news value – perhaps my client got a new receptionist or upgraded their Web site. While those activities might be important to my client, they’re not the kinds of things that typically end up on the front page of the business section. However, if you’ve got a good key word strategy and have used them in a release telling about minor news, they can provide great SEO.
Send these kinds of releases to the free distribution services only (and put them in your online press room – I’ll be writing more about that on my blog shortly). It’s a nearly free tactic (requiring your time only) that will provide you with some solid links to your site or blog, and will also allow those that search for you to see the information about your organization that you want them to see.
Nice job with that answer, Doyle Thanks. Here’s a bit more about him too: Doyle Albee is president of Metzger Associates, a full-service media relations firm in Boulder, Colo. He founded the New Media Practice at Metzger nearly four years ago and writes at metzgerblog.com.