Back at the end of 2012, Matt Cutts of Google made a provocative announcement that links in press releases have no value in SEO. This was shocking to SEO’s at the time, but not actually the complete condemnation of press releases that it sounds. Press releases do have great value as a tool to build brand awareness, increase website traffic, and even improve SEO rankings—regardless of links. However, there are a few drawbacks to relying on them too much. Here are a few things to consider.
Press releases really can help your SEO. Google doesn’t count links from syndicated press releases—and those links should be marked “No Follow” in their code. But search engines still crawl press releases and they still show up in search results—which makes them visible to journalists, most of whom use search engines to research their stories.
They’re great for social, too. If you embed social media links in your press releases, readers can use those links to amplify your message. This extends the life of your press release and helps it reach a larger audience.
Good ones can be widely circulated. If your press release is well-written and newsworthy, journalists will pick it up and syndicate it—giving it a reach beyond what you can get by simply emailing a list of subscribers.
Press releases can drive traffic. Google may not be able to follow links in your press release, but visitors can. A widely-syndicated press release can generate new traffic.
Not all press releases get distributed. Journalists are inundated with press releases, and the competition for distribution is high. Not all press releases get picked up, and it can be very difficult to grab media attention if you don’t already have contacts.
Not all press releases are newsworthy. Many companies write releases that are about them—a new product, new website, or other new development—without thinking about how this is of interest to an audience, or why journalists would consider this news. It’s essential to write your press releases based on the news that’s important to your audience—as well as journalists and their publications.
Press releases can have a wide impact if done correctly—but they aren’t always done correctly. In general, while the links themselves may not boost your SEO, a press release can both help your search engine rankings and generate traffic. But they have to be written well—with an eye toward what’s newsworthy to your audience, not just your company—to have the impact you want.