Blog Post

When Should You Write a Press Release


One of the best known and largest press release sites, PR Newswire, announced steps that they are taking to combat the spam issue and become more compliant with Google's guidelines. Chad and Adam thought that it would be a great time to discuss our tips on when you should write a press release. Watch the Daily Brown Bag to learn SEO tips to write a press release in 2014.

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Hello and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today we're going to be talking about SEO tips on when to write a press release. I'm Chad Hill and I'm joined by Adam Stetzer.

Good afternoon Chad. This is a great Brown Bag topic because the idea of SEO press releases or doing press releases for SEO value, has been in the discussion recently and I think a lot of people are looking for tips and tricks and trying to understand where the industry is and indeed press releases have been coming under fire from the Google Web Spam team for quite a while Chad.

We've been talking about it for the last year or so and in the past certainly spammers did use press releases as a way to put out you know kind of crappy, terrible content that didn't serve any public relations purpose, which of course was the original intent of press releases.

So Google has been you know noticing this and they've started talking about press releases and links in press releases as unnatural. They've been talking a lot about when you should no follow these links and there's a lot of debate out there Chad on whether that should be every press release or only if it's a keyword rich link.

So I think there are a lot of opinions on that but there's definitely people now looking at the press releases and making sure there isn't keyword stuffing where some people had done that in the past and in general just trying to make sure the quality of the press release is evaluated in a new light.

Now this has been given some recent oomph because the press release sites themselves saw a pretty significant drop after the Panda 4.0 update in May. We know PR Newswire, you know one of the best known and largest sites that’s used to write a press release. Recently they announced several steps that they are taking to try to combat the spam issue and become more compliant with Google’s Panda 4.0 guidelines and probably out of this will grow some SEO tips on how to write a press release for our viewers.

The company announced that they would you know take this on and ironically they made that announcement in a press release. So they are still in this business but they said effective immediately that any content submitted to them would be evaluated under the new guidelines to ensure it is quality content when you write a press release.

So similar to the evolution we've seen in SEO in general, it has to have audience value. They really want to reduce the amount of low quality content being distributed through their service and through their partners and they definitely want to stop the exploitation of press releases to artificially manipulate search rankings.

Obviously, that's their attempt to become compliant with the Webmaster guidelines and they are doing a pretty extensive job of this Chad. They're going through all their previous content and they've got some sort of criteria to try to figure out what's low quality content and what should stay. So that's kind of the state of affairs I guess that changes the conversation to, 'what are the SEO tips to write a press release that we should offer to our reseller community?'

Well Adam we should add one more thing to that last point which is to talk about specifically what the editors are going to be looking for, and so PR Newswire gave us four pieces of information. Some of these are harder to understand than others, but they said they are looking for inclusion of insightful analysis and original content. They are looking for varied formats, meaning that if every single press release for a company looks exactly the same and if they are to write a press release every time that’s exactly 200 words, this may be too formulaic.

The length of the content and then if there is some sort of density on a particular keyword for keyword stuffing. So those are the four things they are going to be looking for and it will be interesting to see kind of how that analysis goes.

But I think really the news here as you said is that PR Newswire knows that Google is targeting low-quality content and having their press releases show up on Google is critically important to their business, and so they are trying to align their business with Google. Obviously if you have this Behemoth in the search space everyone does have to be very aware of it.

So what they said is that specifically Google's recent action targeting low quality content in Panda 4.0 highlights when to write a press release and it affirms the importance of ensuring how to write a press release and other content distributed via PR Newswire's network are of real utility and interest to journalists and bloggers as well as the general public.

So I think really you know launching into what are our tips, the first thing is it comes really back to this idea of insightful analysis and the real utility. Which has been a part of our real SEO pitch for quite some time now.

The first rule is make sure you have something newsworthy, and really the primary purpose of a press release is to either put out some interesting information that might spark a discussion about your point of view, or potentially it's for someone in the press to actually cover you. Or the second thing would be to actually put out some interesting thing you're doing that one of your potential customers might be interested in reading.

So again the primary audience should not be the search engine, it should be a real audience whether that's a potential customer or a journalist out there.

So if you take that it should serve as a backgrounder on this particular topic and very much is still a legitimate PR tool. In fact, I know that when we write a press release, we often do see people respond back to them and ask for more information. Again, assuming it's a legitimate, insightful piece of content that does elicit or the response you get from journalists is they want to follow up with you.

Now the final point here is they should always follow the same guidelines as all of your other content and that means that you know if you would be embarrassed to put it on your website, you shouldn't put it out on a Newswire service. It needs to make sure that you enhance it with images ideally especially some of the new formats they support, make sure the grammar is correct, make sure that you're not stuffing it with keywords when you write a press release, so that it's readable.

So all the normal things that you would do with anything that would go out of your company with your name on it.

So I think that's really like the guidance that we would offer up and certainly you don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. This is still a valuable tool that is critically important to helping build companies brands and get their information out to the public.

Excellent tips and tricks and there is no doubt many people still believe that if you write a press release, you’ll have SEO value and you can include dofollow links in moderation, but we say this all the time. Go back to the Google Webmaster guidelines. If you're placing a link with the intention of manipulating the rankings, you're on the wrong side of the law.

So as you said Chad focus on that audience value, make sure you have something newsworthy and put something out that is interesting and you would be proud of. And you know it follows our task, where we say, would I tweet this? That's a great rule of thumb to follow here.

So that's our Brown Bag coverage of SEO tips to write a press release here in 2014. Drop us a comment. We'd like to hear our thoughts. Are still using them in your digital marketing mix? And we hope we'll see you back here at Brown Bag tomorrow.