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Link building techniques for successful SEO

Using press releases to increase awareness and improve SEO

Using press releases to gain awareness and backlinks to your site was once a hot topic in SEO, but like everything that is hot in SEO, it is quickly forgotten about. But that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile - far from it! Online press releases are still an effective way to repurpose content you are already creating for traditional PR and use to your advantage online. I'm amazed when reviewing backlink profiles how often it's a tactic that's missed.

What are the benefits of using Online PR?

If you're not using this technique, here are 4 reasons why you should consider it:

  1. Help establish your business as thought leader & build credibility
  2. Create new inbound links through distributing your press releases
  3. Keep your customers & industry colleagues up-to-date on your business
  4. Create new traffic opportunities to your website through increased brand searches and traffic from the areas you distribute your release

Creating / Editing your Press Release

Without a doubt, the hardest part of the Press Release process is creating genuinely engaging content which is going to be liked and read by your audience. As with all content marketing tactics, you need to ensure:

You know your audience intimately - what they enjoy reading and find valuable etc.

  • You have a content / title plan to help you structure your content creation
  • You are consistent and stick to the process and deadlines

Depending on the size of your business and the roles you have you may already be creating Press Releases, if so you should edit these for use on the web and use them. If not then I am afraid you will need to write your own, one a week would be ideal but at a stretch one every two weeks should ensure its worth your time and effort!

I recommend thinking about how you break up and segment your releases so you release each to a limited readership rather than a one-size fits all approach.

Optimising for the web

Whether you are amending press releases that already exist or creating new ones there are a few simple rules to follow when writing for the web.

  • Ensure you use headings and sub-headings
  • Use bullets and images to break up long reams of text and make them easier to digest
  • Always have press contact information and a link to your website
  • This link is more effective within the body (an editorial link)
  • The first link should feature anchor (hyperlink) text including the keyphrase you're targeting (not just the web address!)
  • It's often best to deep link to a specific service rather than to the home page
  • Use words that people looking for the kind of topic you are writing about would use

Content ideas for your press releases

This is the creative part, where PR agencies often excel. Here are some ideas:

  • Interview industry experts
  • New product launches
  • Market research
  • Business performance (i.e. year-end results)
  • Reaction to market changes - (i.e. record number of unemployed graduates - your business launches an internship scheme)
  • Business activity such as participating in a community project

Launch Press Release onto your website's press area

The first place you should put your press release is into the press area of your website. Similar to blogs press areas are usually content structured by the date it was published and archived by month. Most press areas will include a media pack as well as contact details. Ensure your press release gets the appropriate exposure on the website and ideally allow people to comment on the press release once they arrive there.

Equally consider the traffic that land on this new press release page, what links, products, call to actions should be made available to visitors due to their relevance to the press release! Depending on your business you may want to include a snippet of the press release in your next email broadcast.

Don't forget to bookmark your press release with services such as DIGG & Delicious. Using a tool like Only Wire will make this straight forward!

Distribute your Press Release

A number of websites / networks exist that allow you to publish your press release into a relevant category on their site. Usually they then distribute this content to partner sites etc. Depending on the quality and pick-up of your press release it can sometimes work its way onto large news portals such as Yahoo News & CNN, not only that but other people use sites like this to find content for their own site.

Quite often bloggers will copy the entire press release to their own website, which in turn generates you a link and gifts your brand further exposure. This part of the process is key to generating links back to your website and the better the quality of content / idea the more effective it will be. Obviously, each website you publish to creates another opportunity for your content to rank in search engines, which ultimately will mean increases in traffic to your website.

To get your content onto these networks you simply need to create an account at any of the websites below as well as any I have missed and publish your release by completing their online form each time. Some sites will allow more flexibility than others when it comes to hyperlinks, please only create links where relevant, more links in a release does not necessarily mean it's better for your SEO.

Popular Press Release distribution websites

Some websites do offer the chance of further exposure if you pay a relatively small amount of money. I would not recommend using these premium services on a regular basis. However if you have a particularly strong story I would recommend trying it a few times to see if there are increases in performance (i.e. views, links, traffic and sales)

Analyzing your Press Releases

As with traditional PR, online press releases are hard to track effectively especially compared to other channels. However, as long as you are always consistent in how you report you will always be able to get indicative numbers to help you review your performance. Each website you distribute on will likely have built-in analytics which will tell you how many times it was viewed and clicked on. Overlaying your website analytics to see which website / network generated traffic, sign-ups and sales will help you complete the analysis.

Core KPIs:

  • Uniques direct from press-releases
  • Inbound links from quality sites
  • Social bookmark links
  • Visits / Sign-ups and sales

Happy writing & distributing!

By Chris Soames

Chris Soames is a Smart Insights blogger and consultant, he has worked in digital marketing for over 6 years with the last few years managing international web strategies for a leading travel brand. Now the Commercial Director at First 10, an Integrated marketing agency, he helps clients get clarity on their marketing strategy and create campaigns engineered to engage with their consumers to help drive sell-through. Most of all, Chris enjoys working with talented people who want to create great (& commercial) things not just tick boxes.

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