Long a staple of the public relations business, press releases have always provided an opportunity to distribute news and information through a wide network. Not so long ago, that network used to be limited to journalists and online pressrooms, but today press releases have the potential to generate huge visibility, and more importantly, can drive readers to your company’s website through links embedded within the body of the release. But, do these links carry any SEO value or help your company’s website rank higher on the search engines?
In late 2012, Google’s Matt Cutts insisted that there is no SEO value to a link placed within a press release. According to Cutts, links placed within a press release wouldn’t help a website improve its standing on the search engine results.
However, some interesting tests were run by enterprising SEO’ers to prove that there is some search-related value to including links within your press releases. Search Engine Land reports that Daniel Tan recently produced a press release in which he linked the odd term “leasreepressmm” to Matt Cutts’ own blog. Within a few days, Google searches for this unique string of letters started to return the link to Matt Cutts’ blog site. Tan has a screen shot to prove his results – although Google has apparently pulled the Cutts blog from searches for “leasreepressmm.”
Of course, only the search engine operators know exactly how much weight is put behind press release links, and they aren’t disclosing much, if any, of that information. But data, research and testing show that these links carry some value.
When a press release is put out on the web, the information and content are distributed through a wide network of news gatherers and distributors (sites that pick up the release and its contents). So while the actual press release itself may not carry any link building value, some of the other distribution points could allow search engines to recognize embedded links. This may account for Cutts’ statement that press release links carry no value, while also explaining how some of the search terms used in press release links seem to gain search engine strength.
Public Relations Impact
Press releases, like so many other initiatives undertaken by PR firms, do carry some SEO value. News releases, blog posts, media stories and numerous other communications efforts can be optimized to help an organization or company’s website improve how it is viewed by the search engines. And of course, improving search engine rankings also accomplishes a major public relations objective – increasing your exposure to wider audiences.
Keep this in mind: all communications are “optimizable.” Setting a searchable title in a press release or blog post can attract additional readers, and the links placed within a release can improve a website’s search engine results. Ensuring you have searchable article titles and strategic links within your content can improve the number of readers referred to your content via the search engines. Don’t miss these opportunities to connect key audiences with the content that you worked so hard to produce.