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Press releases have become a vital tool for PR, but when properly utilized, they are an invaluable tool for increasing a site’s search engine ranking.

Press releases serve many important functions in online marketing.  A well-written and thoughtful press release can be republished on news sites, RSS feeds and topical blogs, effectively raising public awareness of your news and your company, a process known today as “generating buzz”.  But press releases have become a vital tool in any Search Engine Optimizer’s toolbox for its ability to create any number of strong inbound links to your site.

A thoughtful, well-written and optimized press release should be interesting and provocative and be no longer than 450 words.  The most important keyword or phrase should be included in your title and in the first sentence of the first paragraph of your release.  There is no good reason to overuse your keywords in your press release.  If your release is optimized for two keywords or phrases, you only need to repeat them two or three times maximum in the body.  Include one link for each 200 words with your anchor text (the link text) pointing to your index and the other link pointing to an important interior page of your site.

Publish your release on you own website’s press pages and use Google Webmaster Tools to make sure Google indexes it on your site first.  Once it is indexed, use a third party distribution company to distribute your release to a wider audience.  You can choose between PRWeb, PR Newswire and MarketWire depending on your own preference.  Plan to spend between $200 and $500 per press release with the price varying depending on whether you include media, extra links, specific news digests and more.  Sign up for each service and perform your due diligence on prices and service offerings and choose which is best for you and your industry.

Once your press release goes live with a media service, any number of good things will happen.  If you use PRWeb, for instance, your release will show up as an article in Yahoo News, along with your links.  Any number of web sites, news feeds and blogs may republish all or part of your release (many will publish only the first paragraph, which is why it’s good to include your important keyword phrase and even a link in the first few sentences) with all your media and links to your web site intact.

Lastly, use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to promote your press release and spread the word.  Promote it on your newsletter or email list. 

Six press releases per year – one every two months – is a good goal to shoot for. Press release marketing is effective only when distributed frequently and regularly using SEO best practices. If there is justification to do one per month, that’s fine as long as it is legitimate news. Unfortunately, the salespeople at press release distribution services are aware of the power of the press release to increase a website’s search engine rankings. Their sales staff will aggressively try to sell multi-press release plans whereby you’ll get a discounted rate for 12 or more releases.

Beware of purchasing such plans unless you know for sure that there will be legitimate news to announce.  If you’ve already paid for a press release and lack something newsworthy to report, you’d be better off skipping that press release opportunity than being pressured to write a story about an employee cutting their finger on paper. Just as your company image and brand can benefit from the intelligent and creative use of the press release, it can alternatively suffer from misuse. 

After each press release distribution, you will notice a spike in traffic to your site that will result in some sales or lead capture, such as newsletter signups.  More importantly, however, you’ll achieve some good long-term backlinks from industry-specific sites that alone make your investment in the press release well worth the cost and effort.



Michael Garcia is a SEO and marketing executive at BrightBulb Solutions, a boutique marketing and web design firm based in Los Angeles. 

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