Link building with press releases is so easy. Just crank out a press release every time you land a new client, hire someone, write a blog post or make it through the day without dropping an f-bomb and poof: Instant links.
One problem: Those easy links may be getting you Penguin-ized. It seems like Penguin looks for, among other things:
- Over-optimized anchor text
- Link profiles with disproportionate numbers of links from a specific type of site
- Links from networks
- Links from spun content
Note: I said seems because really, I dont know, and you dont either. Im drawing my conclusions based on 15 or so reconsideration requests Ive handled (manual penalties), the link profiles of a bunch of other Penguin-penalized sites, and a few hints here and there.
When I look at the press release links many SEOs build for clients, they include:
- Over-optimized anchor text
- Disproportionate numbers of links from low-quality press release sites
- Vast networks of PR sites, like the oh-so-original state-name-press-release.com franchise
- And yes, releases that are rewritten and resent
Releases can be a great tactic for citation- and link-building. Just be careful:
Dont send out a press release every time someone sharpens a pencil. Theres no specific frequency that works or doesnt. Write a release when theres something newsworthy. For example:
- A public appearance/speaking gig
- A major hire
- A major financial or business milestone (one client does not count, unless the client name alone is newsworthy)
- A new finding or report youve just written
You know whats newsworthy and whats not. Well, hopefully. If you think publishing a blog post is a news event, you may want to hire a professional.
Minimize phrase links
Dont throw in keyphrase-rich links unless you can say, 100% honestly, that readers will find those links useful. For example:
Gibblegibbet, Inc., a producer of goat shaving devices, just hired a new CEO.
&screams Im a spammer. No normal reader is going to click on the linked phrase. On the other hand:
Foobar, Inc., a producer of goat shaving devices, just hired a new CEO.
&seems pretty normal. Its linking the company name, so folks can see the subject of the release. Linking names, brands, terms that require definition and such adds value to a press release. Theyre legit.
If, when you choose your link, youre thinking Score! Keyword-rich link! then dont do it.
If you treat your press release as a crappy candy coating on a keyword-rich link, search engines are going to figure it out. Write your press release like youre trying to get a reporters attention. That means tight phrasing, good grammar, punctuation, spelling, and enough real content to fully explain the story.
Use a decent network
I wish I had a fantastic list of good PR networks. I dont. I favor PRNewswire/PRWeb, but there are lots of others out there that Im sure are OK. You want a wire service that pushes releases to topical sources. Thats a sign of a serious service: Theyre publishing, at least in part, like a traditional wire service.
Whats not OK are networks that spew their press releases:
- To domains named for every state in the country
- To domains named for attributes like express or free
- Everywhere except legitimate publications and news sources
Theres no hard and fast rule here. Just take a quick look at a wire services distribution list. If the domain list has more hyphens than a medical journal, theyre probably not OK.
Think like a marketer
Press releases seem like an easy score. But you have to realize that, if we all know it, Google does, too. Use your marketing brain: Write press releases when you have something to announce. Treat the medium with respect, and youll get exactly the kind of citations you need.