Search Engine Optimization

The Purpose of Press Releases in SEO Marketing

8 May , 2008  

I just read this blog over at SEOmoz and it got me to thinking about the role and purpose of press releases in online marketing.  Once upon a time press releases were written as a way to entice news editors to write a story about whatever it was you were pitching.  If an editor didn’t like it or the story didn’t get picked up, that was it.  Today, the target audience for press releases has shifted from just editors to both search engines and the worldwide populace.   So are press releases still useful?

Of course!  The only difference in the online market is competition.  There are so many ways to get press releases published on websites now that millions of people are sending them in. With that much competition, you had better make sure you are writing some highly focused and targeted copy.

What’s true with traditional press releases holds true with online releases: if it sucks, noone’s going to read it, or link to it, or blog about it, etc.  What makes a press release suck?  Selling something.  Anything.  Noone wants to be told/asked/cajoled/manipulated/begged to buy anything, even stupid people.  Yes, even morons want to be finessed.

So how do you get out a press release about some new product and get people to buy it?  You don’t.  Instead, you create or find an angle to market your product less directly.  You write around the product and talk about something which is parallel, but not directly selling whatever it is you’re selling.  For example, you just created a new can opener.  Instead of writing about your new can opener, write a press release about how you just donated 100 can openers to your local kindergarten, then mention the product.  Of course, the downside there is you have to actually make the donation …

Getting back to the actual goal of press releases in SEO marketing: increasing organic exposure.  The goal of traditional press releases was to be read; the goal of SEO marketing is to be found in search engines.  Of course, you’ve got to have something which people actually want to read and link to, which makes your job even harder now.  So how do you do it?

  1. Try and make the headline highly compelling and interesting (maybe funny, maybe sad, whatever) — preferably using a target keyword if possible.  But if you’ve got a good angle don’t ruin it to try and get a good keyword in.
  2. Write well, use quotes, establish the who, what, where, when, etc.  Apply the basic rules of journalism.
  3. Research and focus on your keywords and links.  If you’ve written a compelling and interesting release, make sure you’ve mentioned your target keywords and have actually linked where appropriate to the website you’re marketing.
  4. Distribute it!  There are a multitude of press release sources out there, go ahead and use them.  Press releases are created to gain exposure, and this is one case where I believe duplicate content is not going to hurt your SERPs.  Publish them all over and hope they get picked up and republished.
  5. And finally, not just to plug my own business of Online Marketing, Press Release and Copy Writing, if you can’t write well or don’t know how to effectively market, hire a professional.  Even bad press releases can get picked up by a couple dozen news websites, and once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. 

, , , , ,

4 Responses

  1. Maneet Puri says:

    Press releases have become a rage as a SEO tool. But whats irking is the fact that it has been reduced to a blatant one with people writing one for just about anything and everything. Do you think its the right wya to go? Will not the credibility of the concept be at stake?

  2. In order to gain value from the effort of creating press releases, one has to really stand out from the crowd. Barry offers some sage SEO Rockstar advice on how to be successful with using press releases as a powerful marketing tool. My favourite piece of advice definitely is the statement that morons need to be finessed…legendary comment!

  3. I agree with Jacques.
    A unique and interesting PR is much more valuable than a bland ‘link page’. Writing a press release isn’t that difficult if you follow the standard outline.

    – Press Release Group

Comments are closed.