Why You Should Forget Press Releases for SEO and Create Great Content

Posted by | December 29, 2012 | Marketing, Social Media | 5 Comments

Press Releases SEO Dead

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to build links for your website is through press release syndication. It’s easy because you simply write a release, add a few links to a handful of keywords and send it out. It’s easy and for the last few years it has worked…. That’s no longer the case.

Now it sucks. Press releases may drive back links but those back links won’t necessarily drive results. I could go on a little rant about why this isn’t as effective as it once was but let’s go direct to the source. Matt Cutts of Google said in a Google Webmaster Help forums that links from press releases shouldn’t have a positive impact on your rankings. He wrote:

Note: I wouldn’t expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however.

There it is folks.

Generating backlinks to your website isn’t the same as what it used to be. You can’t just send out a variety of different releases, create another website with links driving to your page, create a handful of mediocre content, and expect to rank well. These days you have to look at how you can ensure that the content you’re delivering is valuable, that the blog posts you’re writing are shareable and that the releases you send out, are worth sending.

Optimizing your website for Google is no easy job. Press release syndication was an easy for businesses looking to build thousands of links. It’s no longer that simple and will no longer drive the same results it once did. So how do you combat this information and build thousands of links naturally and get thousands of shares on social media? By creating great content.

If you’re interested in creating great content, I’ve highlighted a few thoughts that will make it easy for you to stand out in the crowd…Enjoy.

Create Share Worthy Blog Posts

The first step to creating a blog post worth sharing is developing a captivating headline. The headline should clearly identify what the reader will get from clicking your link. It needs to clearly state the benefit of reading your content and inject adjectives for an additional emotional punch. For example, 7 Effective Ways to Triple your Content Marketing Results is very clear about what exactly the reader will get if they click that link.From there, you need to focus your attention on ensuring that the headline is going to stand out in the crowd. More than likely, the post you’re thinking about writing has already been written by someone, somewhere. It’s time to do a quick Google search and see what you can do to stand out. See if other people have used this headline and identify opportunities to make it better. There have been tons of content written about business, not many have compared business to the movie American Gangster. Unique spins on content can give you a significant advantage.

One of my favourite types of posts for easy virility are those that are time sensitive. Take a few minutes to watch the news or scan the web for Google Trends and see what people are talking about. Take these ideas, thoughts and top of mind stories and develop content that is highly relevant and unique. As an example, whenever the New Year rolls around we see a huge spike in blog posts about Resolutions for Content Marketers and Resolutions for everyone else. When Barack Obama won the election I took a similar approach to creating timely content and wrote: 4 Content Marketing Lessons From The Obama Campaign.

Understand why People Share

Ross Simmonds | Blogging

While the tactics above are simple to follow, the biggest challenge is creating content that is worth sharing. You need to think about the motivations behind the idea of sharing a piece of content on Facebook, Twitter or even Redditt. Understand your audience and think about what is going to spark them to share this piece of content. I’ve found great results when I create content with this idea in mind. Thus,  I suggest you create content that will do one of the following things to people:

  • Inspire: One of biggest reasons why people like inspirational content is because it makes them feel better and want to be better. It’s a passive way to feel a dopamine rush and relate our personal issues to someone or something. Everyone has problems, whether it’s big or small, everyone has them and every finds their own ways to cope with it. For some people, they cope with their problems by reading inspirational quotes while others spend an hour doing CrossFit.
  • Think Differently: When someone can alter your perspective on life, business, relationships or anything you hold close to your heart with words; it’s going to be worth sharing. Quora is a resource filled with content that will challenge your perspective and constantly challenges conventional wisdom. If you can create content that challenges someones thinking and succeeds in converting; your post will be worth sharing.
  • Inform: People share content that provides them with new information. The reason they share this content is because they want to make an impact in being the source that others heard it from first. Whether it’s an announcement about the death of Osama Bin Laden or being the first to share a loop-hole in Instagrams photo policy; people crave the feeling of being a valuable source.
  • Cry and/or Laugh: Emotions can be difficult to manipulate. Yes, manipulate. When a website like BuzzFeed publishes a blog post that highlights 20 Moving Pictures Of The World Grieving For Sandy Hook or The 45 Most Powerful Photos Of 2012; they are aiming to manipulate emotions. They want you to cry. The same way they share a The 25 Funniest AutoCorrects Of 2012was to manipulate your emotions to make you pee your pants while laughing like a little school boy.

Develop Captivating Infographics

It’s estimated that 90% of the information we store in our memory is processed through visual stimulation. In fact, it’s thought that the majority of our memories are stored in a visual form. Thus, infographics present you with an opportunity to create content that is more likely to stick by increasing someones ability to mentally connect with the information you’re providing.

Infographics are extremely shareable and can drive thousands of link backs to your website. The ability to create unique and creative infographics has become challenging with the recent infographic boom but great infographics still have the ability to cut through the clutter. A simple search for social media infographics on Google will show you how much competition is out there. See:

Social Media Infographic

What one needs to realize, is that rich infographics are still rare and valued. Infographics that provide people with new ideas or changes their perception have the ability to go viral and boost a websites rankings significantly.

Implement a Guest Blogging Plan

Of all the tactics in a content marketers tool-kit; guest blogging is one of the most efficient, yet misunderstood approach. It’s not a new concept. It’s been around for as long as blogging but only recently has it started to stand out in the crowd as a great way to generate results for brand awareness, SEO, content strategy and social media marketing.

While Guest Blogging can present a wide variety of benefits; our focus is on how it can help your site rank on Google. When you’re looking to establish strong and valuable backlinks; it’s important to recognize one of the most important findings to come out of Google in the last few months. You need to target blogs that have a strong root domain authority. What does that mean? Domain Authority predicts how well a given domain is likely to rank in search results. You can pinpoint sites with a high domain authority using free tool: the SEOmoz toolbar.

The key is to find blogs that are in your niche and would have relevant keywords already existing within their titles, headings and tags. This is simply a way to ensure you’re blogging in front of a relevant audience and driving quality back links to your site. For example, if you are selling tailored suits, you will want to find fashion and style blogs with an engaged audience of trendsetters and people who celebrate fashion. The next step is reaching out to these blogs and creating content for their audience.

Don’t be afraid to send an email asking to write a guest post. Guest blog posts are a reciprocal exchange in value. They provide you with an opportunity to send backlinks to your site and you provide them with compelling content for their audience. The key here is compelling content. Share your best work when you write guest blog posts and be sure to include photos and anything else that can take your blog post from being simply “ok” to being something great.

Does this mean Press Releases are dead?

No, the press release is not dead.

What I’m saying is that the idea of sending a press release with the sole intent of generate back links is dead. Sending a press release can work if done with the intent of providing a news site or journalist with content worth talking about. As soon as we embrace the idea of sharing and distributing content worth talking about; the press release syndication services will once again provide value to sites looking for backlinks. I mean think about it. If you send a press release out and the story you tell is actually worth writing about and gets covered by someone like CNN or TechCrunch; that’s huge.

SEO and content marketing has changed a lot with the recent Google updates. One thing that we can’t ignore is the fact that great content and social media is truly starting to shape the way rankings are determined. Yes, press releases are still an important piece of the puzzle, it’s just not as important as it used to be.

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  • Ross Quintana

    Nice post Ross, From one Ross to another :] Very solid content. The fact is that Google is getting rid of what we think of as SEO. I think this has two reasons, the main one is then it drives people away from systems and people who can get their site ranked to more PPC ads which make them money. Second is that by leveling the playing field they may get a better look at real quality. In the big scheme writing your own press release with backlinks helps mediocre content and sites rank well.

  • http://www.rosssimmonds.com/ Ross Simmonds

    Thanks for the comment – You’re spot on. I think the second point is really the underlying factor for this move. Google is realizing that people are finding more and more great content with social and are trying to do their best to ensure that great content lands into the result pages of their users instead of content that was created through a system.

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