Google Has Spoken: New Guidelines on Press Release SEO
The Rundown: Press Release SEO
For years, optimized press releases have been a great linkbuilding tactic to increase inbound link popularity and search engine ranking results. Press releases allow businesses to share timely news across the web and also include links within these releases that point back to their website. It’s a win-win situation. Not only can businesses gain more online visibility through press releases, but they can also potentially gain a quality link back to their site. Optimizing press releases is important, especially from an SEO perspective. Search professionals utilize the following practices when optimizing press releases:
- They write great copy and make sure the topic is newsworthy.
- They use keyword targets within the release headline, sub-headline and body.
- They add keyword-rich anchor text to all links.
The Change: Google’s Webmaster Tools Link Schemes Documentation
Some of the best practices listed above will no longer apply due to a recent announcement Google made. Basically, Google quietly updated certain guidelines within their Webmaster Tools Link Schemes documentation. Google also added new link scheme guidelines.
According to Google, "Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:"
- "Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links." This is referring to duplicated and "spun" content that is distributed across several online properties. This could be in the form of an article, blog or any other piece of content.
- "Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank." Creating links that weren’t editorially placed by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, are a violation of Google’s guidelines.
- "Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites. For example: There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress."
But what does this mean for the future of SEO and press releases? Are all of the old best practices obsolete? How should your company adapt to these changing rules?
The Conclusion: Implications on Press Release SEO Moving Forward
We can assume that Google’s main goal is to ensure that links are being built naturally, which will, in turn, help Google provide quality results within SERPs I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a consideration within their next Penguin update.
Should we be panicked about this? In short, no. While this does change the original set of best practices for optimizing press releases, there are still ways to optimize. At the end of the day, good content is the key. Instead of purposely stuffing keywords into a press release — which has never been a best practice — or trying to game the system by spinning content or writing or paying for advertorials that look like they are legitimate, focus on writing a good, newsworthy article.
Taking all of that into consideration, here is my new list of best practices for optimizing press releases for SEO:
- Write great copy and be newsworthy. (Yes, this one is the same as the old best practice.)
- Focus press releases around a keyword theme rather than specific keyword targets. This will ensure that your press release is written in a natural context, as well as ensure you’re not accidently stuffing keywords.
- Feel free to include a link back to your website; however, steer away from keyword-rich anchor text. If you feel the urge, you can try to "naturally" utilize keywords around your text link. But again, if it doesn’t work out or come naturally, don’t force it.
- Think of optimizing press releases as an indirect linkbuilding tactic. The possible relationships you may build through this quality content can actually help you gain more inbound links. In essence, focus on the relationships you can and will build by pushing good content out by way of press releases.
At the end of the day, we cannot let Google rain on our parade. When Google hands us lemons, we have to make lemonade and not just give up. I will leave you with these final words of wisdom: Don’t be discouraged! Keep press releasing. Just be smart about it.