Can You Still Get Ahead with a Press Release?

Do Press Releases Still Work?Press releases have been noted as a medium that eludes many content marketers. Concerns over the age of the press release concept have been a leading cause of this apprehension. After all, who wants to put out a statement about their shining, twenty-first century computer-based venture in a form that originated on greasy, twentieth century typewriters?

However, new concerns about the viability of press releases in a post-Panda and Penguin updated world have cast doubts on the press release as a potent strategy.

The new concern is simple:

Apparently, Press Releases Don’t Help SEO 

Google went out of their way to mention it in a help forum, so it’s worth noting here: links from press releases don’t help your SEO value. More specifically, links inside of the actual releases won’t help you. This is just one of a few potential drawbacks to releases, including an inability to build analytics around releases and the major downside that they are essentially one-way communication.

A 2005 announcement about Google’s handling of “link-stuffing” in press releases, made by software engineer Matt Cutts, raised a much larger point about Google’s stance towards SEO in general – an obvious distaste for black hat SEO techniques, but an apparent willingness to support white hat SEO firms that used anchor text in press releases to build SEO rankings.

Press Release SEO Now a No-No?

However, a more recent discussion about press releases and SEO has begun, relating to a post by Cutts on a Google Groups support forum. The new conversation seems to imply a shift in Google strategy. Mind you, the full extent of the conversation has had a bit of a “snake eating its own tail” motif to it, with a myriad of sites posting about this less-than-prolific comment by Cutts on a Google support forum:

Cutts Post about Press Releases

Well, it looks like, despite Cutts’ comments on the subject, that some anchor text and in-release linking does still work. How long that lasts, however, is a reasonable question. The key might be in the use of the word “expect” in Cutts’ comment.

There are also non-SEO strategies possible to make a working press release, as commenter “socialamigo” noted in the Google Group discussion, “press releases with social tidbits; videos, links to blogs, blog/vlogcasts, and hard links to specific background information that make the media’s job easier and more interesting.”

A more social strategy might be the key to reviving the press release concept. A successful, ‘social press release’ will get other bloggers talking and posting articles about your release-worthy project, which will help you build up some SEO cred. Generally, this infusion of beneficial press will raise awareness, build some interest, and help with your SEO rankings, but is it worth it to try? That’s something you’ll have to decide.

What success have you had with press releases?


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Michael is a graduate of New York University’s Film and Television program. He specialized in writing, channeling a passion for storytelling, no matter the medium. In addition to his work at CEM, Michael primarily works in web content production, including projects like Geek Crash Course, a geek-educational series, the Ansible, a comics-based interview show, live performance series The Next Lab Sessions, and many more. In addition, he’s written and edited for the digitally distributed Champion! Magazine.

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