Press releases have been around since the dawn of newspapers with nationwide distribution. First written by journalists and then by PR departments, their main purpose is to share important information, such as scientific discoveries, mergers and acquisitions, achievements and awards obtained by employees and managing a crisis. In the internet age, companies found out how easy it is to create valuable backlinks from publishing press releases. Now, many specialists would tell you that this type of content is useless for SEO. However, if you follow our guide, you will be able to use press releases for SEO – just not in a direct manner.
Why Are Press Releases No Longer Effective for Direct SEO?
During the last years, Google noticed a trend: a large number of links from press release platforms. Over the years (as far back as 10 years ago) Google officials would warn companies that spammy links included in press releases are not counted for domain authority.
However, this did not stop companies from publishing press releases informing of the most trivial things, from hiring a new employee to redecorating their offices. And this is why the most reputable press release platforms are now adding a nofollow attribute to all links included in the content posted on their websites.
As a result, you cannot use press releases for SEO with the purpose of earning domain authority. “Then why am I reading this? Why should I consider writing press releases? Don’t I have sufficient work for SEO and digital marketing cut out for me?” As we will explain in this article, this type of content is useful and can help you drive qualified traffic on your website.
The Basic Structure of a Press Release
Let us start with the basics: how to write a press release. This type of content has a specific format, which you must follow:
- The title – containing your business or brand name
- The summary – in one sentence, summarise the topic of the press release
- The body copy – present the information in full detail
- About the company – a short presentation of your company
- Press contact – the name and contact details (email, phone number) of your PR officer.
As for the length of a press release, the body copy should not exceed 500 words. For the “About the company” section, fit all the details in a short paragraph (2-3 sentences).
Finally, you must write press releases in the third person (the company will open a new store, not we will open a new store).
Valid Reasons to Publish a Press Release
As explained above, many companies abused press releases, publishing them for the most trivial reasons – with the single purpose of creating backlinks. Apart from not earning domain reputation, pointless press releases can damage your brand reputation.
Thus, you should create and publish them only when you have something significant to announce, such as:
- Achievements by the company or your employees
- Special events
- Charitable donations
- Awards granted or won
- New products or services
- Significant organizational or staff changes (at top management level only)
- Managing a crisis
- Opening a new branch/store/office.
The rule of the thumb is to ask yourself before writing a press release: do my clients/stakeholder/ the general public need to know about this?
How to Use Press Releases for SEO and Brand Awareness
Let us now examine the ways in which press releases are useful for SEO, albeit in an indirect manner:
1. Use the Right Keywords
Keywords used in press releases must be chosen carefully. First of all, they cannot be salesy. Terms like “for sale”, “special offer” and “buy now” must not be found in the keyphrases in a press release.
However, you can use localised keywords in your long tail keywords (the city name is the most relevant). You must remember that a press release is a short content piece – maximum 500 words. Thus, you will use only one main keyword and maximum 3 long tail keywords.
2. Write for Readers, Not for Google
Here are a few writing tips if you want to use press releases for SEO:
- Address the readers directly
- Structure your text in an inverted pyramid style: the most important information at the beginning, details towards the end
- Write in a clean, journalistic style – this will help reporters copy and paste the press release into their article
- Do not include business, technical or trade jargon in the press release.
Remember that Google does not count backlinks from press release platforms. Thus, there is no need to write this type of content piece with ranking rules in mind. Address the people and if they like what they read, they will visit your site.
3. Optimise the First 250 Words
Here’s the only SEO rule to obey when writing press releases: add the main keyword and one long tail keyword in the first half of your press release. Also, include the critical information you want to share in the first part of the text.
Journalists and interested stakeholders usually skim press releases. Thus, if the first part is interesting, they will read until the end – including the information about your company and your contact details.
4. Hyperlinking Rule: Less Is More
Even if pres release platform links are nofollow, they can bring people to your website. However, if you want to use press releases for SEO in this manner and avoid getting them taken down, do not add more than 1 hyperlink (anchor text) in the body copy. Make sure that it leads to a relevant page of your website for the content of the press release.
5. Give Full Contact Details
Ideally, a press release should contain all the contact details in the last section:
- PR officer name
- Telephone number – office and mobile
- Fax number
- Email address
- Business office address.
You must keep in mind the fact that this information may be needed by someone who wants to request more information – such as a high quality digital logo to add to a news articles.
6. Share Your Press Release on Reputable Platforms
Where do you publish this type of content if you want to use press releases for SEO? First of all, you must avoid spammy and platforms with a low domain authority. The most reputable press release platforms at the present are:
Please note that some of these platforms will charge you a fee to publish your press release.
7. Do Not Spam Journalists with Your Press Releases
You can easily find contact details for many journalists in your area. This does not mean that you must flood their inbox on a weekly basis with your press releases. Ideally, these content pieces should appear once every few months. After all, even large companies like Microsoft and Apple make significant announcements only several times per year.
Although you cannot use press releases for SEO to grow domain authority, this type of content is very useful when you have important announcements. Also, press releases appear in Google searches. Thus, a well written and optimized press release can bring relevant traffic on your website.