Press Releases and SEO

We’ve been getting some questions lately as to the SEO benefits of using a news distribution service like PRWeb so I’d like to take this opportunity to address some of these questions.

Search Engines and News Distribution – The Basics

I’ll begin by underscoring the fundamental role of search engines and news distribution services: In my perspective, it is the goal of search engines to help people find relevant content online including news content. It is the role of services like PRWeb to help people disseminate relevant news-oriented content online – search engines as a consumption facilitator, news distribution services as a production facilitator.

Now, everything else really stems from this core symbiotic relationship between search engines and news distribution services.

Tactically, search engines use different types of algorithms to determine what is relevant to a query. What distinguished Google in the late 90s was the PageRank algorithm, which placed a lot of value in the importance of back links in determining the relevance of a page.

Now, since then, the algorithm has changed quite a bit. These changes have been spurred for proactive reasons (breakthroughs made by Google’s über-talented engineers) and reactive reasons (to combat black hat SEO tactics). For instance, the practice of selling links or ‘link farming’ has compelled Google to make tweaks to their algorithm so these types of practices result in negative and not positive gains for perpetrators.

Anchor Text

Now let’s take this one level deeper and look at the concept of PRWeb’s usage of anchor text as a tool for search engine optimization. As the Google Webmaster blog states, “Writing descriptive anchor text, the clickable words in a link, is a useful signal to help search engines and users alike to better understand your content.” In other words, the anchor text helps explain to search engines affinities that may exist between keywords and a Web site.

On a simplistic level, PRWeb takes content from an originator and then moves it around the Web and gets it to people who consume that content and then often do something with it (like write about it). When they receive this content it includes the anchor text and when they discuss the content from the news release, more often than not they will include that anchor text in their hyperlink. Over time, the aggregate of all these individual bloggers, Web sites, etc. using anchor text and linking back to a destination site will have benefits for that destination site.

Keywords

Now, let’s look at another of our recommendations: to focus on a limited set of keywords or keyword phrases. Think of each news release that goes out in isolation – there is a compelling story that is behind that news release and the goal is to catch the interest of others out there on the Web – people who will consume and people who will push the story further through some means. All those behaviors (consumption and republication) have search benefits. Now, loading up on keywords on the other hands can have zero or even in some cases negative benefits. For instance, Google is pretty explicit about the practice of keyword stuffing.

Why? Because the goal of search engines is to help people find relevant content. So, if there is an indication that humans think that content is interesting because they are clicking-through or because they are blogging it, then a search engine will recognize that as good content. If it is obvious that the content is just loaded with excessive keywords and an attempt to game the system, then people will not click-through and people will not blog it – and the search engines will also most likely ignore it.

Hyperlinks

A final point about hyperlinks. Just like with keywords you should really use hyperlinks when they are appropriate. Too many hyperlinks can have a negative impact on your release. If there are too many hyperlinks, it runs the risks of not getting indexed in Google News. Furthermore, bear in mind that there is a lot of evidence out there to suggest that excessive links will dilute the PageRank conferred through individual links on a page. Just something to bear in mind.

Conclusion

Here is the best piece of advice I can give to those who want to gain search benefit through PRWeb: write a compelling story that people want to read and write about. Offer them the content needed (images, video, etc.) to make it easy to share your story with others through their Web sites, blogs, etc. Don’t focus as much on the little elements but instead focus on the underlying story. Now, you still want to follow best practices such as using anchor text, high-volume keywords, etc. but these should be a secondary focus after the primary focus of creating great content.

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3 Comments

  1. on October 22, 2008 #

    Jiyan , well done.

    mario

  2. on June 15, 2009 #

    It really can be the school of hard knocks working in the SEO industry, and learning that the most important thing for rankings is effective link-building. when links can be hard to acquire. Managing client expectations also is a crucial factor. A site with quality content, and good on-page SEO is the vital first step, but the links must also follow.

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    The SEO Value of Press Releases…

    Jiyan Wei, a product manager from PRWeb, posted this week on his blog a great overview of press releases and SEO.  He runs through the history of SEO as it relates to release distribution, and gives a number of recommendations on how to write a releas…