Press release backlinks: do they help SEO?
If you are into SEO – or even just into digital marketing – chances are that you have been involved in link-building on a scale that goes from frustrated to obsessed. Google rankings rely on over 200 ranking factors, but the undeniable truth is that link building and content marketing have much more weight compare to the other factors. You won’t reach the top three results in a Google search for your money keyword unless you have very strong backlinks supporting your site authority.
In this frustrating scenario, you wake up one morning and finally decided to check your spam folder, something you haven’t done for months. Among all of the commercial offers – most of them written in Hindi-English – there is that one promising to get your PR distributed to over 300 sites. Your first thought, of course, is “Damn! I’m going to get 300 links with just one piece of content.”
PR and link-building: the direct effect
Press releases have been, for many years, one of the top link-building sources. Of course, that’s of course before penguin, panda and all the other animals that have changed inevitably the course of SEO.
Is a press release a valid method of getting good backlinks valid for SEO?
Although I would love to say yes and see you running to my “contact us” page to order a bunch of press releases services, I have to admit that the short answer is, in fact, “no.”
Should I include press releases in my link-building strategies?
The short answer is yes.
Let me dig a little bit further into the contradiction of these two last statements.
Google has openly said that press releases don’t count us a source of backlinks for ranking. Matt Cutts said in a Google Webmaster Help forums that “I wouldn’t expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however.”
Also, to be noticed that press releases are published with no-follow tags, and no-follow tags don’t pass juice to your site, thus not helping SEO:
“How does Google handle nofollowed links? In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links. Essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web. However, the target pages may still appear in our index if other sites link to them without using nofollow, or if the URLs are submitted to Google in a Sitemap. Also, it’s important to note that other search engines may handle no-follow in slightly different ways.” Source
However, from my experience in publishing hundreds of press releases, I can tell you for sure that these do have an impact on improving your site metrics. So, let’s say that you have a domain authority of 15. You will definitely jump to a domain authority of 20 or 25 after you distribute your press releases to such a high number of sites.
Does this make a difference for Google?
Definitely not. Google doesn’t use Domain Authority, Majestic trust flow, SemRush authority, or any of those metrics for allocating rankings into their search results.
Does this help SEO?
Yes, a lot. Indeed, it will drastically help to increase the number of sites backlinking to your site with a do-follow tag. Exactly as you wouldn’t give on your site a do-follow backlink to another site with low metrics – mostly because you would feel like Google would penalize you – in the same way, other sites won’t link to you unless you have good metrics.
PR and link-building: the indirect effect
Let me get this straight: press releases don’t have a direct impact on Google rankings because Google has zeroed out their impact in terms of backlinking and because they normally come with no-follow tags. However, they do have an indirect impact on search results, primarily by increasing your side matrix and also by providing you with traffic, which is another important factor that Google uses in ranking sites.
Another angle to look at when we discuss press releases and SEO backlinking power relates to branding. “New SEO” – meaning that group of technics developed after Penguin and Panda bans –looks at branding and mentions as a valuable source of backlinks. I am not here to say whether you should give up links and focus more into mentioning your site name, but my personal point of view is that branding has a strong impact on your rankings. Of course, in SEO, and more in general in life, the best approach is a balance among these techniques.
Let me explain to you what SEO branding assumes: so, you are marketing online a new brand called “Namie” and let’s say that many people in the online world start mentioning your name. Of course, Google will notice it. Now, according to the “brand’s SEO,” you will be ranking higher than your competitors using old style backlinks and anchor texts. In this approach, branding your name would help rankings even more than acquiring a bunch of backlinks with spammy anchors and low metrics.
Now, let’s look at the let’s go back to the press releases scenario. It is obvious that lots of top sites mentioning your name and syndicating your article would obviously make a difference.
As SearchEngineJournal mentions, “Brand recall drives more clicks and sales than positioning. As Google SERPs shift more toward favoring big brands, it’s time for smaller brands to invest more of their SEO budget and strategy into building a memorable brand.”
PR and link-building: predicting the future
The first part of this title of this paragraph title PRN link building is different from the previous two. Can you tell why? I’ll give you five seconds.
Five, four, three, two, one, zero.
The acronyms PR of this paragraph stands for Public Relations; in the previous two paragraphs, instead, the acronyms referred to Press Release. If you haven’t noticed in the time frame given 5 Seconds don’t worry. It is a very common mistake and a very common misunderstanding.
A typical call I receive would sound like this:
Client calls: “Are you guys a PR agency?”
And me: “Yes indeed we are.”
And the client: “So you offer press releases?”
And me “Yes we do, among other services features and mentions.”
At this point of the call, most of the clients are really confused. That is because they think that a PR agency is a press release agency, but the truth is that a PR agency is a Public Relations agency. Thus, for a PR agency, press releases are/should be only one of the services they offer.
To help clarify this confusion, let’s say that press releases do help in building public relations and public relations do help your SEO. Many have gone so far as to affirm that public relations is the future of link-building, and, considering the huge efforts that Google puts in suppressing black hat link-building strategies, that could actually be true.
In an article titled “How PR Is the New Link Building,” author Becky Shindell says, “Link building has been a big focus for a lot of brands for the past few years. It allows their sites to get a boost in the SERPs and provides a new way to get more traffic back to their site. While link building is still important, public relations (PR) is currently taking center stage in the outreach efforts that can help build brand awareness, drive relevant traffic to your site, and improve your search rankings.”
To make a long story short, we suggest:
- Doing press releases with the firm goal of building a brand rather than acquiring a few links for improving your ranking in Google; and
- Using press releases among other strategies to increase your site metrics. Indeed, nobody will link to your site and much less give you a do-follow link unless you have a high level of authority and credibility; and
- Offering press releases as part of a more public relations strategy. Press releases indeed will help you build relevant relationships with journalists and influencers.
To make the best out of the strategies presented in this post, we suggest using the following tools:
Our planner lists all the media outlets we are connected with, thus were we can mentions and/or feature your site. You can now order placements for your brand for link building and branding. Of course, on here we have also listed our press releases services, feel free to order them once you have carefully read the pieces of advice and information presented in this article.
Without any doubt the best link building tool out there. I personally use it a lot in combination with other tools because, in my opinion, is the only tool able to retrieve all the backlinks that a site has. This is also a great tool for finding out the link building strategies of your competitors and, possibly, replicating them.
This is another great tool provided by Google that notifies you every time a keyword such as your personal name or brand name is mentioned on the web. However, from my personal experience, the notification is triggered only when “bigger” site mention you, when small site does it – even though they have got properly indexed – the notification is not always sent.
You can create an alert:
“Go to Google Alerts.
- In the box at the top, enter a topic you want to follow.
- To change your settings, click Show options. You can change:
- How often you get notifications
- The types of sites you’ll see
- Your language
- The part of the world you want info from
- How many results you want to see
- What accounts get the alert
- Click Create Alert. You’ll get emails whenever we find matching search results.
Edit an alert
- Go to Google Alerts.
- Next to an alert, click Edit .
- If you don’t see any options, click Show options.
- Make your changes.
- Click Update Alert.
- To change how you get alerts, click Settings check the options you want and click Save.
Delete an alert
- Go to Google Alerts.
- Next to the alert you want to remove, click Delete .
- Optional: You can also delete an alert by clicking Unsubscribe at the bottom of an alert email.“