4 Reasons Why Press Releases Are Still An SEO Best Friend, Despite What Everyone Else Says

press_releaseIvy Lee wrote and distributed the first press release in 1904, and for the 90 years that followed, we watched it become an efficient way of publicizing a brand and maximizing exposure.

Then we rolled out the red carpet for the age of the Internet, and like everything else, SEO’s seemed to exploit an otherwise effective form of marketing for better search rankings.

The thing about Internet press release syndications that had certain SEO’s over the moon was it was easy to obtain a large amount of back links, albeit low quality, with exact-match anchor text in just a few minutes.

The result?

Your site skyrocketed to the top of the SERP.

Enter Matt Cutts, the “Commissioner of Major League SEO”—

After all, exploiting good marketing avenues for search engine rankings is as part and parcel of SEO as steroids are part and parcel of major league baseball in the past decade, right?

The good news is that Matt Cutts is cleaning up the sport, and he’s bringing his little black and white friends with him to help.

His aim?

To force SEO into the realm of real marketing, no matter what resistance stands in his way. Which is exactly why now, more than ever, a press release is enormously valuable to an SEO, despite what everyone else thinks.

The only question you should be asking yourself when it comes to press releases is whether or not you’re a good marketer!

So how does an SEO squeeze real value out of a press release?

Forget about back links, anchor text, keyword density, title tags, image alt tags, and everything else you were taught about SEO, and become a good marketer.

This article demystifies the lampooning press releases have taken over the past year so we can finally put to rest this unproductive discussion.

And I’ll show you real proof of why press releases should be a part of every SEO’s bag of tricks.

4 Things You Need To Remember About Press Releases

If an SEO’s job is to improve the connectivity of a website with other industry authorities, increase visibility of a brand within the search results, engage with communities related to their client’s (or their own) demographic, and increase revenue by increasing targeted traffic to a site, then the answer to, “Do press releases have any SEO value?” is an emphatic, YES!

A well-constructed press release can do the following:

  1. Increase your brand’s web visibility in the SERPs
  2. Get indexed in Yahoo! and Google “news” search
  3. Rank well for a handful of semantic and thematic keywords (in some cases even outrank your website)
  4. And, dare I say, even get you real, quality backlinks from authorities in your industry.

In the post-penguin era, for the first time sustainable SEO depends on how good you are as a marketer, not how well you can amass irrelevant back links.

And a well-written, original, newsworthy press release is good marketing. If done right, and if it follows specific guidelines like the ones laid out here from PRWeb, then not only will it meet Google’s quality content guidelines, but it will likely get a few back links, too.

Despite whatever Matt Cutts said about the value of press releases last year, listen to what he said in April:

If you think that it’s [your] job to build links for search engines, then your really cutting off a lot of avenues—things like talking to newspaper reporters, for example.”

Things like talking to newspaper reporters,” sounds a lot like a press release to me, right? After all, isn’t the whole point of a press release to connect with reporters in hopes that they’ll cover your story and further publicize your business?

While Internet press release distributors will always be a source of exploitation for certain people (read Danny Sullivan’s article on PR spam here), it’s hard to deny that they have a ton of real SEO value. Let me show you proof with a client I previously did work for . . .

1. Increased Brand Visibility in SERPs

In rare cases search engines will “cluster” multiple search results from the same website. For example, you may see two or three results from the same website all clumped together when you search for a specific keyword. However, their getting better at removing clusters, and most likely they’ll eliminate them all together.

So how do you get multiple listing on the first page?

When you distribute a press release on PRWeb, the actual press release will rank, therefore giving you more SERP visibility. In fact, in some cases, like this instance, the press release outranked the brand . . .

#1 on Google for "Hormone Imbalance Therapy Boulder"

For the keyword “hormone imbalance therapy Boulder,” the press release ranked #1 overall in the SERPs in just three days, without any back links to the page.

The only caveat is that you have to use a major press release syndicate like PRWeb or PRNewsire. With the deluge of poor quality pr distributors over the last few years, only the heavyweights have enough page rank to rank your release.

When you search for the company’s name, “Biovive MD,” the press release ranks second, only to the homepage. What’s great about this is that visitors searching for Biovive will see that they’ve recently opened a new location, perhaps closer to them, without even having to click through to the site.

#2 on Google in branded keyword query, above Yelp and Yellow Pages listing

The press release ranks above their Yelp page and Yellow Pages listing, too. If you ever run into a situation where negative reviews are topping the search results for a client’s brand or personal name, a press release is a great way to push those results to the bottom. Just remember to keep the release newsworthy, and be a marketer first!

2. Get Found in Yahoo! and Google News Feed

When you distribute a press release on PRWeb, your release enters into Yahoo!’s and Google’s “news” search engine. This is huge, especially considering that a report conducted by Nielson concluded that Yahoo! is the #1 global news brand online. With that said, let me show you how my client faired in Yahoo!’s newsfeed:

For their primary keyword, “bioidentical hormone replacement therapy,” they ranked #1 in Yahoo!’s national newsfeed.

biovie 3


They ranked #2 for “hormone imbalance” nationally . . .

They ranked #2 for “hormone imbalance” nationally . . .


#10 for the keyword “hormone replacement therapy” . . .

#10 for the keyword “hormone replacement therapy” . . .


and #1 for “bioidentical hormone therapy”

#1 for “bioidentical hormone therapy”


They also ranked on page one for a handful of other hormone replacement related keywords. When considering the magnitude of Yahoo! News (#1 global news brand), even ranking in the top three pages for any keyword seems like a daunting task.

But as a result of this press release, they ranked nationally for competitive keywords.

Now don’t think I’m naïve enough to believe this will happen for everyone. Granted, not every keyword is created equal, and bioidentical hormone therapy isn’t nearly as competitive as many other keywords. However, this is evidence that there is definite opportunity in press releases.

3. Rank For Semantic and Thematic Keywords

The only keywords I targeted were “bioidentical hormone replacement therapy” in the geographical location of Boulder, CO.  Actually, I wouldn’t say I “targeted” anything. Not once did I stop and think about how many times I should insert either keyword throughout the release; not once did I think about how many backlinks I would get from PRWeb’s distribution, syndication, RSS feed; and I didn’t stop to analyze anchor text.

Instead, the press release focused on the message—the news of Biovive’s new location.

Rather than analyzing anchor text and keyword density, or egregiously placing multiple exact match anchor links in a boilerplate written for a search bot, the press release spoke in the language of the intended audience, all while maintaining a newsworthy, intelligible, and thoughtful analysis of hormone replacement therapy.

The results?

Overnight, not only did Biovive’s press release rank extremely well for “bioidentical hormone replacement therapy” and the geographical location of Boulder, but it also ranked well for dozens of semantic and thematic keywords.

Ranked for a dozen semantic and thematic keywords

Note: This article was published on July 25, 2013, and as of August 22, 2013, the PRweb press release is still indexed (as well as over a dozen other sites that picked up the release). And, for the keyword “hormone replacement therapy Boulder,” the release now ranks #1 on Google; for the keyword “bioidentical hormone replacement therapy Boulder,” the release now ranks #4 on Google due to backlinks it’s required from media sources referencing it.


4. Obtain Quality Back Links Without Paying For Them

Back links are a byproduct of great content, not the other way around.

When writing a press release, back links should be the last thing you think about.

First, craft your message in a way that will communicate to your intended audience. Then, like all great content, keep your press release thoughtful, original, and relevant. If done right, then reporters or news sites will naturally pick up your story and run with it. Novel idea, huh?

PRWeb delivers press releases to over 3,000 subscribers a day, 60% of which are part of the media.  Not to mention over 600 syndication networks they’ll distribute your release too. If your press release is newsworthy and engaging, someone will pick it up and link back to you, I promise.

Crafting a press release is no different when it comes to quality and intention than any piece of content on your site:

“The philosophy that we’ve always had is if you make something that’s compelling then it would be much easier to get people to write about it and to link to it. And so a lot of people approach it from a direction that’s backwards. They try to get the links first and then they want to be grandfathered in or think they will be a successful website as a result.” –Matt Cutts

Listen to the Commissioner, and keep it compelling.

As for the backlinks you’ll receive from PRWeb just sending out the release?

Forget about them! Take my advice and pretend they don’t exist, and heed that advice from the time you sit down to write your release till’ the time you push “publish.” The mere thought of writing a press release just for syndication backlinks will dilute the entire efficacy of your release, and divert you from your only goal: to be a good marketer!

Not to mention links from within the body of the release on are “nofollow” anyways . . .

backlinks in press releaseCourtesy of http://tools.seochat.com/tools/page-link-analyzer-seo/


The reality is press releases are just good old fashioned marketing. SEO, content marketing, SEM, or whatever they’ll call it tomorrow, aside, a press release is a great way to connect and engage with your audience.

If done right, it’s also a way to secure additional publicity (and possibly even back links) because of it.

As long as you stick to the basics: marketing.

So, you ask, “Do press releases still have value in SEO?”

If you’re up to the same old tricks and try to game someone or something in the search world, then the answer is NO, press releases will have zero value for you.  For everyone else, breathe a sigh of relief that we can finally close the chapter on this exhausted SEO topic once and for all.


What are your thoughts on press releases for SEO? Have you seen any positive results? Share your experiences in the comment section below!

By Drew Leahy