UPDATE: Although I wrote this post 8 months ago, it is still very much relevant today. I have since gone and written a more indepth review post of this press release service over here.
With Private Blog Networks (PBNs) being all the rage again in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it’s only a matter of time before Google comes out with another update designed to slap them.
This means two things:
- Stay away from sloppy PBNs
- Find alternate sources for high quality backlinks
Backlinks have always played a major role in helping search engines decide how high or low sites rank and what they rank for. Because the whole web only works as long as it is interconnected (interlinked), backlinks will always play an important part in Google’s search algorithm.
I think it’s safe to say Google won’t eliminate backlinks from it’s ranking algorithm anytime soon. It will however get a lot stricter as to what type of sites it will recognize links from. Which is why Google has also started judging sites by their user experience, load speed, social popularity, etc.
Essentially what it comes down to is: the less trustworthy a site is, the lower it will rank and the less trust it will pass on to the sites it links to.
Hence the question: Aside from quality PBNs, what websites can you still get “trustworthy” backlinks from that won’t trigger Google’s spam filters?
We still have many options, but the one I’ll go into in this post is: News sites. Or more accurately, press release syndication websites.
And the quickest way to get featured on a news site is to…
Submit a Press Release
I always experiment with different types of backlink building. It’s part of what I love doing and it is how I stay current with what is working and what isn’t.
Which is why I recently started experimenting with press release submissions again.
Before you run screaming “too much work” or “too expenses” or even “press… what?!?”, let me clarify: I use a super cheap – completely done-for-you – press release service.
I also did an in depth review of the press release gig over here.
If you’re anything like me you’re used to paying $99 to $249 for similar services, so I honestly did not expect much for $57. I mean… seriously… what can you expect to get done for $57?
This legitimately proved to be a HUGE bargain though, so I was pleasantly surprised. Especially considering I did not have to write the press release myself. All I did was give them 2 minutes worth of information and they took it from there.
Case Study: Press Releases for SEO
Now that you know where I got the press release from, let’s look at the real question: Do press releases still work – today – from an SEO perspective?
I know a lot of so called SEO gurus that claim they no longer work, so I think it is important to do actual tests.
Press Release #1
I pointed the first one at a post on my wife’s food blog, targeting a keyphrase she ranked #35 on Google for.
By targeting I mean I used the 3 word keyphrase I want that post to rank for – as hyperlink text (anchor text) within the press release.
Backstory: I had pointed a couple PBN links at the post a few weeks earlier, but always used generic keyphrases as anchor text. Just the PBN links alone managed to bring it from ranking #84 down to #35. It stayed at around #35 for a week before I decided to point the press release at it.
As is generally the case, the closer to #1 you get, the harder it gets. Which is why I wanted to throw some extra strong backlinks in the mix. This press release did just that.
Almost overnight the post jumped to #24 for my target keyphrase.
The press release was boring. All I wanted was the backlinks from the press release syndication sites. I didn’t care much for it to go viral or for it to drive traffic to the site.
If I had wanted that, I would have extensively focused on a hot trending topic and piggybacked off of it to attract a larger audience. I know a lot of marketers do that and consequently generate a lot of traffic with press releases, but it simply wasn’t what I was after.
The release was submitted and published on over 300 news syndication type sites. I was VERY impressed. For a one time $57 investment, it’s not bad at all.
Considering the strong SEO metrics some of the sites have and that the links on some of them are dofollow, it was a tremendous bargain.
The most satisfying moment though was when I saw that silly release show up in Google’s news feed. You know you’re getting Google love when 🙂
Press Release #2
The second site I pointed a press release at was this blog, SEODagger.com. Unlike the previous case study, I used a very generic keyphrase.
It wasn’t about ranking for any particular keyword on this one. All I wanted was to boost the overall linkjuice and trust going to this blog.
I made a slight attempt at having the press release writer talk about a semi hot topic (the economy), but not as much as I should have now that I think about it. I definitely should have gone for some traffic as well, but didn’t.
Same as the previous press release, it got published on over 300 fairly powerful news syndication sites. It too made it into Google news, which I was super happy about.
Because I had them use a very generic keyphrase as hyperlink text, none of the keywords I am tracking made quick jumps in their Google rankings like they did in case study #1.
It’s now a week later and I’m seeing the overall rankings (for the keyphrases I’m tracking) move up. So – although slower – it did have the intended effect, and I know it will continue going up as time goes on.
Traffic from Press Releases
A lot of marketers are mainly concerned about traffic they get from press releases. I am not. I probably should be a bit, but for $57, I’m happy – even if all I get is a bunch of backlinks for SEO purposes.
Did they generate some traffic? Yes. It wasn’t anything crazy though. We’re talking double digits. Not even a hundred visitors per release. At least not in the first week. As the press releases start ranking in Google, I’m sure there will be – for many years to come – a trickle of traffic coming from them, but it’s not something I am counting on.
I should mention though that, as a result of the press release I did for my wife’s food blog, she was contacted by a big brand, saying they are interested in working with her.
Brand related contracts on her blog range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand USD – not to mention the cool “free” stuff that they send her to try out. No idea if anything will come of it, but – in talking to my wife – we were joking it may be worth doing a press release monthly if it yields cool opportunities like that.
UPDATE: Press releases are now a regular part of my offsite SEO. In fact, I’ve submitted dozens of press releases in the last few months alone, and the benefits keep outweighing the costs greatly. I talk more about this in my recent press release syndication service review.
From an SEO perspective alone, these $57 press releases are worth the money just for the backlinks they get you.
The one thing I would recommend however is trying to find a trending topic and leverage that to try get the press release to go viral or at least have it generate traffic. Might as well, right?
Whether you use the keyphrase you’re wanting to rank for or a generic keyphrase, your site will benefit greatly from these links.
NOTE: If you plan on doing press releases regularly, I would recommend focusing on a different keyphrase for each release. The last thing you want is for Google to look at your sites backlink profile and say “wait a minute… every backlink over the last 4 months uses the exact same anchor text. Something smells fishy here!”.
Unlike another press release submission service (NewsWire) that I once submitted dozens of press releases through, I don’t have to worry about these sites taking my releases down if I don’t renew my membership with them a year from now. I remember it being extremely frustrating. So, yet another huge plus for this gig.
As you can tell I am pretty stoked with what I have seen so far from this service and have already started ordering more gigs for some of my other sites.
Have you done press releases in the past? If so, what proved to be the best way to do them? What service did you use?