With Private Blog Networks (PBNs) being all the rage again in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) game, 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
- Also find alternate sources for high quality backlinks
Backlinks have always played a strong role in helping search engines determine how high sites rank and what they rank for. Because the whole web only works as long as it is interconnected (interlinked), backlinks will always be an important ranking factor.
Google won’t eliminate backlinks from it’s ranking algorithm anytime soon. It will however get a lot stricter as to which sites it will recognize links from. Which is why Google has also started judging sites by their user experience and social popularity.
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!
The quickest way to get featured on a news site is to do…
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 used a super cheap done-for-you press release service.
I’m used to paying $99 to $249 for similar services, so I honestly did not expect much for $57. It proved to be a HUGE bargain though. Especially considering I did not have to write the press release myself.
Heck, I barely know press release guidelines, nevermind actually putting one together. So all I did was give them 2 minutes worth of information and they took it from there.
Do press releases work from an SEO perspective? Let’s find out!
Press Release Case Study #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 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 hyperlink 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 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 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 is a tremendous bargain.
The most satisfying moment though was when I seen that silly release show up in Google’s news feed. You know you’re getting Google love when 🙂
Press Release Case Study #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 from press syndication sites.
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.
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 – 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 this.
From an overall marketing perspective, these $57 press releases are well worth the money.
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. From an SEO standpoint though, the backlinks alone are worth the investment
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.
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?