It’s incredible (and a little funny) to me how the SEO industry can be so quick to panic and jump ship on strategies at the first sign of trouble, without really thinking through the situation. Matt Cutts says something that’s misinterpreted as “infographics won’t pass link value,” and everyone panics and declares that infographics are dead. Matt Cutts says Google doesn’t like spammy widgets, and everyone panics and declares that widgets are dead. And most recently, Matt Cutts says press release links might not help your rankings and guess what happens? Yep, everyone panics and declares that press releases are dead.
The truth is all of those strategies – infographics, widgets, and press releases – are alive and well, they’re just a little harder than they used to be. Press releases specifically have taken a hard hit in the SEO community recently. And not without good cause. If your press release strategy was to release pointless stories that most people who work at your company wouldn’t even care about, let alone the public, then yes, that strategy is dead and those anchor text links probably aren’t helping you. But, if you considered that a strategy, you have bigger problems than the decline of the press release link.
On the flip side, if your strategy is to use press releases as a promotional vehicle for the assets you’re creating, I can tell you for a fact that this can work for link value. I can tell you this for a fact, because one of my clients got a DA96 link out of a press release. A PA54, DA96, PR7, super contextual, followed, awesome link. And we didn’t even realize it until a month later, because it was picked up quickly and quietly by a writer who snatched it off of PRWeb. We didn’t personally reach out to this writer, he has no known connection or relationship with our brand, and we didn’t pay a dime for it.
So how’d we get it?
The press release was TIMELY.
Take a step back and instead of creating an asset that relates to your brand, create an asset that relates to your audience. This specific client employs hundreds of industry experts and polled them regarding who would win the presidential election. This specific client’s service has absolutely nothing to do with politics, but the election was what people cared about at the time so they went with it. Finding the connection between your brand and what people care about is the secret ingredient to creating shareable content.
Also, consider when writers are going to be digging into PRweb releases. When the media is fixated on one story, good writers are going to reach to find a new angle on it. That’s where your seemingly unrelated brand can slip in and be a part of the story.
The press release WASN’T PROMOTIONAL.
Our client wasn’t pitching itsproduct. The release wasn’t sales-y, promotional, or heavy-handed. It was factual, concise, and informational. Journalists have their own problems to deal with, without being asked to be your sales force. It’s not their job to push your agenda. It’s your job to give them a reason to care about you.
The press release was CONTROVERSIAL.
Anytime politics are involved, you’re going to get into a controversial area. Our client wasn’t afraid to dip its toe into this water, and it paid off big time. People are interested in controversy, it’s in our nature. So if your press releases are safe, vanilla stories about your brand or business, ask yourself: who cares?
The press release WASN’T THE FIRST.
Our client has polled its industry experts before and released press releases, and we’ve had pretty good success from personally pitching it to bloggers and journalists. We’ve had releases picked up naturally, too, but never by a site like this. I wouldn’t exactly say “if at first you don’t succeed” is the moral of the story, but major credit to our client for taking this strategy and being consistent with it.
Press releases alone aren’t a strategy. Worry less about the anchor text links you’re using and more about the content you’re sharing. Create assets that relate to a wider audience than your current client base. Create something that people want to talk about. Use press releases in the way they were originally intended to be used: to share news. They can be a great supplement to a content strategy, and if you’ve tried them and disagree, you might want to re-evaluate your content strategy.
But what do you guys think? Is cancelling your subscription to PRweb still on your to do list, or are you going to rethink your strategy?
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