The press release is what is the most basic tools of marketing. It tells target audiences and the media what’s happening with a company, provides quotes for potential articles, and links people back to the company making the release. Since last year, press releases didn’t provide a strong SEO boost because Google devalued press release links due to abuse by spammers. Google has reversed course when it starts about press releases and quietly announced last week that they no longer devalue all press release links, and haven’t for a while.
This algorithm change in support of press release links comes as a result of two important factors. first, the move to devalue press release links hurt a lot of powerful legitimate sites such as PR Newswire. Second, the simple truth is that people are sometimes looking specifically for the press release from a company. Google actually made the algorithm change back in September, but they didn’t make the news public until recently.
In an statement quoted by Reuters, a Google spokesperson acknowledged the role that well-written press releases can have in search.
“The goal of search is to get users the right answer at any one time as quickly as possible – that may mean returning an article from an established publisher or from a smaller niche publisher or indeed it might be a press release.”
Though the information came a little late, this change is still welcome news to marketers, who can now get the full benefit from creating good press releases. However, this doesn’t mean that there should be a rush to exploit press releases for SEO benefit. When Google first started to devalue press release links, they cited an overabundance of poorly written releases the added little value to search. It is likely they have adjusted the algorithm to sort out such spammy press releases in future searches. However, for companies that post press releases that are well-written with newsworthy information, the skies the limit.
According to PRNewser’s Patrick Coffee: “[It] is good news for PR and bad news for major journalistic institutions like the Times and The Wall Street Journal, because whoever posts the announcement first will get top placement and clicks. It’s a symptom of our digital age, though: new distribution channels allow brands — and, by extension, their PR teams — to become publishers with greater power to drive the narrative.”
Some analysts and critics say this is a bad move and that it will steer people toward corporate statements and away from news articles. These criticisms seem less believable than usual since Google made this change over six months ago and it hasn’t had a major effect on the traffic of news sites. Most people are smart enough to know when they want to get information directly from the company or when they want to read a news article that would incorporate other sources.
Writing a good press release is significantly different love writing a good blog post. Blogs are largely informal and the rider can use any style or writing conventions they like. Press releases by design, are more formal. they should not be written in first person language, they should use an inverted pyramid style, and include news elements like quotes. If you are using services like PR Newswire to distribute the press release, there will be additional requirements for style.
This algorithm change only affects Google News, but that’s okay since this is the ultimate goal of press releases, to be released as news articles. Keep this in mind when writing headlines for press releases. Unlike blog posts, press releases will rarely involve numerical lists or include unprofessional words.
To make a long story short (which it’s probably already too late to do), if a business has newsworthy information they want to get out to the public, a press release is useful in a traditional sense and now once again in SEO sense.
For more news about updates to Google read this article about Google’s upcoming changes to the algorithm for mobile search.