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Press Release and Backlinks

Human desire for news is something that will never go away. In this fast moving world, everybody prefers reading online for the obvious reasons. According to PR Web, 80 million people opt for reading news online.
The above mentioned reason is one good justification for doing Press releases. But lately, there have been some news and debate over whether Press release is good for SEO or not.
Just saying, weren’t the earlier SEO days happy and fun (only for the webmasters)? I mean it was so simple with so less penalties. But now, you cannot escape Google’s eye for any tactic to rank high, using black hat or faulty practices.
Well, we are going to keep this article limited to discussing over whether links from Press releases are considered white hat or black hat.

Before that, just to give you a brief introduction on what is Press release?

According to wikipedia “A press release, news release, media release, press statement or video release is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy. Typically, they are mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to assignment editors and journalists at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, online media, television stations or television networks”.

 

More insights into the past and present of Press Release

In the earlier days of SEO, sending out press releases with keyword optimized anchor texts would get you a dozens of backlinks. In some fortunate cases, this would even make your site crawl to the top positions on SERPs. So, eventually Press releases became a tactic to build links and rank high. It was no more concentrating on providing and sharing valuable information, but only was looking out to gather as many links as it can.
Something had to be done to set this straight. Therefore, Google started penalizing sites which were using heavily optimized keywords in their Press releases with the sole intention of spamming the tactic to the core. This simply accounted for buying links, which is definitely classified as a black hat practice, meant to be penalized by Google.
Since then, Press release marketing have come under a lot of audit for the kind of links to be classified as “unnatural” in a link profile. Mass-scale duplicate content and optimized anchor texts with little or no value are the possible issues that can lead to the above mentioned consequence.
Agreed that press releases have fallen victim to be used as a tactic to gain links, but it still accounts for a valuable marketing tool, if and only if done right.

How to do Press Release right for SEO?

It should be clearly understood that the purpose for Press release is to share some newsworthy content about your product, brand or company with the interested and intended parties. It should be considered more of a branding or credibility tool more than a tool for building links.
All you need is a good piece of content/story and a decent online distribution network. If both these things turn out in the right combination, then social sharings, direct and organic traffic and quality backlinks will automatically follow.
It’s not that backlinks are considered
Now, coming back to the question: How to do it right? Here are a few tips that will help you:

  • Be very sure of what you are writing: Press release is about writing a story, your story. Make sure you clearly outline your objective, use correct grammar and style of writing and give titles appropriately. Another important point to note is that don’t do the press release just for the sake of it. Until, you have an exciting and interesting news about your product, service, idea, acquaintance etc, I would not suggest you to go for it.
  • Know and understand your audience: If you are trying to market your product, it is very important to know and understand your targeted audience. This would call for a little demographic research. For example, if you are targeting people between the age group of 15-30, using a bit of modern or slang language would be more appealing to them.
  • Direct the users to other interesting assets: Whatever you writing or announcing, accompany it additional and related in-depth information of the same on your site. This will give the user an extra reason to engage and connect with the content and will increase the probability of the content getting liked or shared.
  • Do-Not dump the anchored links with keywords: I would like you to over emphasize on this point. Go a little easy on optimizing your press release. Go for company related keywords more than product related ones. Optimizing your keywords heavily in the press release could end up in penalizing your site.
  • Go only for Quality Distribution Channel: Before planning on your press release, be very clear with the fact that it’s distribution will require money; a good amount of money. Additionally if you want pictures, videos, hyperlinks etc, you will be required to pay a pretty good amount again. But do not compromise this at the cost of quality of distribution channels. Go for a channel which provides a good dashboard and complementing analytics.
  • No-follow all backlinks: Remember to add a ‘no-follow’ tag to all the backlinks in the press release. This will convince the search engines that your purpose is not just to build links via press release.

Conclusion:

My suggestion would be not to shoot press releases in all directions for the sole purpose of building links. Be very genuine of the purpose of writing your press release.
Also, choose the source of distributing your press release wisely. Always remember, what is easy is not useful and what is useful cannot be easy.