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by John Waghorn on 9th April 2013
When it comes to content, there are a number of ways to generate links back to your site. Although this is obviously one of the primary functions of SEO, in order to help your site gain better rankings in the search pages, these methods have naturally and inevitably evolved over time.
Older methods of content production have faded into obscurity and become redundant as newer forms have taken their place. For example, article marketing and blog spinning are no longer relevant and instead, investing in Infographics and outreach will help to attract greater success.
It’s a trend that is forever changing and content creators are constantly observing the best ways to work with content in order to get their message across to an audience. In the same breath (form a white hat perspective) they’re also working with Google’s guidelines so that the content they create will have a stronger impact without any damaging implications.
The Press Release
This is where the press release comes into the equation. Many who work in the industry are divided as to how successful they are in relation to link value. Matt Cutts, head of webspam at Google, recently voiced his opinions via a Google Webmaster Help Forum by declaring that he wouldn’t expect press release links to favour site rankings.
In response to this, the critics have come out in force to defend the press release and since these words were blasted onto every industry blog and shared on social sites ten times over, SEO professionals have even tried their own experiments to find out if this is actually the case. Personally, I believe that the press releases are still a great tool and form of content and if you utilise them properly there is plenty to be gained.
As SEO also undergoes a constant evolution, many have come to realise that it’s not solely about links, links, links. A natural progression and change is inevitable; we work in a fast-paced online environment where, encompassed with technology, things don’t stay around for too long. So as social signals and content find their place in SEO, where does this leave the good old fashioned press release as a form of content to be used as part of a wider strategy?
Link value aside, first and foremost, you should only use press releases if you genuinely have something that you believe has the potential to garner a decent level of attention. This concept has never changed.
One of the main reasons the PR has been discredited over the years is because of the constant use of poor quality and badly written PRs which don’t really reveal or say anything. So, if it’s newsworthy and you know that you can write it without plenty of errors and poor grammar, then why not share it? In the majority of cases there will be a receptive audience out there willing to read and share what you have to say.
You’ve found a decent story to cover, you’ve written the PR and now you’re looking to publish it on a high quality PR distribution site but what can you gain?
Using a decent PR hosting and distribution site, such as PR Web, means that that your news has the potential to be picked up by other media outlets. So for example, if you upload your PR, a few days later you might notice that it’s being featured on three other valuable industry specific websites.
It might be a short summary, or a whole article around your initial PR, but in any case these are valuable sources to be featured in. If they are good enough they’re also opportunities that you wouldn’t say no to, because coverage in the right places is important for your business.That’s not to forget the SEO benefit of this coverage.
Whilst your press release is generating a buzz online, this is a great way for people to become aware and associated with who you are and what you can offer. As a business you’re always going to want to generate good coverage and although this should be one aspect of a larger content campaign, the PR can help you to achieve exactly this.
It’s no good staying quiet, doing very little and waiting for people to find out about your services; you need to work with everything you’ve got in order to attract an interested audience and loyal customers for the future.
Leads to Additional PR and Media Opportunities
A knock-on effect of syndication can lead to further media requests and PR opportunities. If a radio station, newspaper, or blogger comes across your press release and decides to get in touch for a quote, a feature, or an interview, this is obviously going to be worth your time. With all forms of content, there is always the possibility of further PR off the back of it, so you shouldn’t be afraid to share what you’ve got and see how far it can take you.
The end product of this whole process is hopefully a greater level of custom for your business. I’m not saying that you are guaranteed to get X amount of loyal customers just because you decided to create one press release a few weeks ago, however this form of content can be the catalyst to help bring in real traffic in the long run: traffic that has the potential to convert.
One sure fire-fire way to gain more of a social following is by having something to share in the first place. Content is a great way to leverage this and as social signals are valid you can share your PR and any additional media attention and in the process build an online following. If industry folk and customers alike are happy to share and pass value through social signals, this will result in a positive contribution to your site rankings in the long run
Accessing News in Different Ways
As mentioned, it’s inevitable that trends evolve. This sentiment can also be applied to how people are now using the press release. In the past, newspapers would get in contact with a communications department and ask for a PR, as it gave them the background information they needed to go off and write a news piece. With the rise of social media, many are suggesting that Twitter has taken the place of the PR.
With its 140 character space, Twitter emerged in 2006 and now has such a strong following that news events are being shared on this platform, before they’re even announced by mainstream news channels. The death of Whitney Houston is one such example which was first Tweeted 27 minutes before it was broadcast.
As Twitter restricts the amount of characters you can use, it’s the perfect tool to communicate the heart of any message between users. Journalists and readers alike are only ever a few clicks away from finding out the latest news in real time. So as social trends have taken off, it’s been hard for the press release as a medium to keep up.
However, the press release has always offered the same function for many years now and it gives more of a thorough overview of all of the details concerning any news story in question. I’m sure there still are many journalists who would favour this form of communication over a few simple Tweets to act on, but it’s understandable that it’s hard to move with the times if you’re used to doing things in a certain way.
More to be Gained
So, although the debate continues as to whether the press release is really needed in the modern world with the rise of social and increasing instant communications, from an SEO point of view there’s certainly more to be gained beyond link value alone.
Different forms of content will inevitably pass through the SEO landscape and some have more longevity than others, but the PR isn’t something which should only be used to try and improve rankings: it has greater value attributed to it.
The press release may or may not have a direct impact on rankings as a standalone form of content in the SERPs, but what can be gained beyond this still makes it a reputable and valuable tool to use. Combined with the social aspect, we can begin to understand that its function may be diminishing, but nevertheless it’s not something that you should forget about just yet.
What are you’re views on the press release? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.