The press release is a ubiquitous type of copy that exists somewhere in the no man’s land between hard news and editorial. It is a form of writing that has been around since the early twentieth century. What began as a means of disseminating important company news in a positive way has become an unlikely marketing tool for the online business of the twenty-first century.
Today’s press releases can be published on company websites or released independently to journalistic powerhouses such as the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! News, Reuters, and the BBC. Alternatively, companies can use press release sites that will distribute a company’s releases to the most appropriate channels. Whether or not press release sites are worth the time and investment is another matter.
How They Work
Press release sites come in two types: free and paid. Everyone likes free, so let’s start there. A free press release site allows a company to create and upload press releases covering just about any topic. Creators can use tags, links and other SEO tools designed to help the site know where and how to distribute it. Much of the process is automated to keep costs as low as possible.
Paid sites charge either a membership fee or a per-piece fee designed to cover the owner’s costs of distributing press releases. Each of the sites has its rules regarding press release structure and the use of tags, links, and other SEO tools. Some of their processes are automated as well, but there are usually human beings involved in making the most critical decisions.
PRs Are Not for SEO
Just a few years ago, we would have recommended using press release sites purely for their SEO benefits. That is no more. Google has made several changes to its search algorithms since 2013 that has all but nullified the benefits of SEO in terms of raw search engine results. In other words, a press release site may use SEO tools to analyse content in order to disseminate it properly, but that will have no SEO benefit for the author’s website.
A data survey done just after Google’s Panda 4.0 update during the spring of 2014 showed that the most popular press release sites suffered huge losses in terms of search engine ranking. That should be no surprise in light of a number of experts warning that Google was going after press releases a year earlier.
The point of all of this is to say that, while press releases are still an excellent tool that companies should make use of, creating them for SEO purposes only is a waste of time and resources. It is a practice that might even prove detrimental to SEO in the long run. Press releases should be created for their intended original purpose: to disseminate company news for the purposes of keeping loyal customers and others informed.
Using PR Sites
With all of that out of the way, let us get back to the question of whether or not you should use press release sites. In short, use them if you know very little about disseminating press releases and you have neither the time nor interest to learn. However, stay away from the free sites. If you are going to enlist help in getting your press releases out, go with a paid service that put time and effort into it.
If you do not want to use a paid service, you can employ a very simple strategy that increases the chances of a press release published on your own site being picked up by a major news source: embedding a link in an appropriate piece of anchor text. For example, say you are a financial services company with news you want picked up by Yahoo! and the Wall Street Journal. If you include both of their stock ticker symbols as anchor text, then link that text to the appropriate sections on the Yahoo! Finance and Wall Street Journal websites, it is likely both will pick up your news.
Whether or not you use press release sites is a matter of how much effort you want to put into disseminating company news to as wide an audience as possible. Nevertheless, before you ever get to the website question, you have to have a quality press release to start with. Connotations can help. We offer an affordable press release writing service utilising experienced writers. We can create a press release for your company that gets your news out while also presenting you in the best possible light. If you do use a press release sites, you need only let us know so that we can make sure the release we write conforms to the site’s standards.
For more information about our press release service, do not hesitate to contact us at your leisure. We are ready to produce the content you need for both your website and any press release sites you do use.