Gini Dietrich

Do News Releases Have SEO Value When Distributed Via a Wire?

By: Gini Dietrich | February 28, 2013 | 

Do News Releases Have SEO Value When Distributed Via a Wire?During yesterday’s Facebook question of the week, Kate Finley asked if news releases have SEO value when distributed via a newswire.

This has been a long internal battle for me. I know the “coverage” isn’t really such, but it always seems to help search engine optimization.

Clients sometimes like to show their bosses the number of places that ran the news release so we don’t always fight the battle.

And, sometimes, it’s okay with us because the site needs a little SEO oomph.

But here’s the thing: It doesn’t help in the sense that the release in your newsroom ranks higher in search results. Rather, your home page does…or a page on your site where the keywords are used does.

Is a News Release on the Wire Duplicate Content?

In doing massive amounts of research for Spin Sucks (the book, not the blog), this doesn’t make sense to my little brain.

A news release printed verbatim on sites such as Yahoo!, Bloomberg, and the Wall Street Journal feels like duplicate content. It is, in fact, the exact, same content running on multiple sites. And, from where I sit, most is not super valuable…or at least valuable enough Google would want it to rank.

Which, I suppose, is why the news release itself rarely ranks, but it’s odd the company’s website does. We’ve visibly watched a site begin to rank higher for certain keywords days after a news release is distributed on the wire.

So, I answered Kate’s question as such: It’s not great for journalists using it to write their own stories, but it is great for search engine optimization.

Do News Releases Have SEO Value?

But guess what? I might be wrong (I say might because Google is about as clear as a day the fog is rolling in across the San Francisco Bay).

Last month, Matt Cutts (distinguished engineer at Google and a name I am getting to know very well during my research), posted in a Google forum “links from your news releases do not have SEO value.”

But, not wanting to take his word for it, SEO Consult did a test to see if that was, in fact, true.

They wrote a news release with a made-up word in it – sreppleasers – and linked to Matt Cutts’s blog (I guess to both be funny and to prove a point).

Within three days, they began to rank for the made-up word. In fact, if you do a search now, you’ll see it has the top three search results.

I asked Frank Strong, who most recently was director of public relations for Vocus and PR Web, what he thinks.

News Release on Wire Help SEO

Still, Sean McGinnis and I debated this for a couple of hours yesterday on our Facebook wall and he argues you should treat Matt Cutts’s word like the Bible.

My Advice?

If you use the wires for news release distribution, keep doing it.

If the client will allow you to tell a story via the news release instead of announcing the news (I know this isn’t always possible because we work with a Fortune 10 company that requires us to use a template), do it. That way, perhaps it will be picked up as the beginning to a real story that will help your search rankings.

Use a canonical link in your release so you don’t get a black mark by Google.

Keep an eye on your search rankings prior to and after distribution.

And keep yourself educated on the changes at Google so you don’t get slammed with a hit from them.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Here’s the main problem with the SEO Consult test they did. All they did was prove there was SOME value to a link from the release. They did not prove HOW MUCH value.
    SEO is a zero sum game. You need “more SEO” than your competition to rank for a phrase. They proved that a link with a nonsense word (for which there is ZERO competition in the world) is enough to get Matt’s otherwise very powerful site to rank for that nonsense word. They did NOT prove that links in releases can and do help in a real world situation. They still may.
    There’s a huge difference between a link that adds X value and one that adds .00000000001X value. The latter is all that’s needed to rank for a word that doesn’t otherwise exist, while you may need 578X to rank for a somewhat competitive phrase – again it’s all relative. I depends completely on what level of “optimization” your competition for that phrase has already achieved.

    • @Sean McGinnis great point!

    • @Sean McGinnis I don’t disagree. My point is that news releases DO have SEO value. At least right now. We’ve seen it in our own work and this experiment proved it. Would they have the same result for a non-made up word? Likely not, but the point is there is value. And, as a communications professional who stays on top of this stuff both for our clients and the industry, I think there is SEO value in using a wire for your news release distribution. Personally, I think the news value is lame, but it does help with search rankings.

    • belllindsay

      @Sean McGinnis I was thinking the same thing Sean: “It’s a made-up nonsense word, how hard is it to rank for that…? Not very I would think.” But then, what do I know? 😉 I’m learning so much lately with all these deep-dives into the machinations of Google. Crazy. In fact, it’s a little scary how much they control. Or is it?

    • @Sean McGinnis That was my point to the SEO Consult folks in a comment there – that it’s easy to rank for a word that doesn’t exist, because no one else is trying. They chose to believe my questioning that meant I didn’t understand SEO. I didn’t bother responding again.

      • @AmyVernon It’s a fun experiment and it does prove Gini’s point. The links ARE counted. All that means to me is that are are NOT totally discounted. I’d love to see Gini’s data that she is seeing.

        • @Sean McGinnis Definitely. I just got kind of annoyed because my questioning the full value of their experiment got him and his community to basically say I didn’t understand what they did, which was kind of annoying.

        • @AmyVernon  @Sean McGinnis I had the same reaction you did Amy. I also think it’s worth pointing out that the algo changes @ Google are very much to the advantage of smart PR / Comms folks like the ones here on SS because y’all understand the whole story of your clients, and that informs strategy. Separating SEO from Marketing from PR is no longer realistic, and co’s or professionals who do this are going to hurt themselves in the long run.

    • writingprincess

      @Sean McGinnis Dude you’re like Zeus sweeping down from on high with untold amounts of wisdom and fire! So true! WTH care if you rank high for purple frog eating alabaster? Seriously what does that do for your hot dog company unless you’re starting a new religion ala spaghetti monster! Rank is one thing, value is another and in SEO high value tactics are what count. You can do a million things and call it SEO but if you ain’t taking to the bank what value is it?

    • scott_benson

      @Sean McGinnis Hi Sean (& everyone), I’m the SEO over at PRWeb – You bring up a great point about the SEO Consult “test”.  There are so many other factors at play, including anchor text, co-citation, etc.  Is it the link that has value, or the repeated anchor text for a completely unique term? (something G is trying to control)   These are obviously tied together, but I do believe they can be completely exclusive “signals” as well.  So, I don’t believe we can conclude (outside the Google walls) the “link” is the exact source of value, or if other factors contributed.  At PRWeb we are trying to reiterate the “down-the-line” SEO value of news.  As discussed here and other places, the real measurable value is having timely, newsworthy content that’s picked up and written about my another site (& linked).  I’ll try to take some time to read through all these great comments.  Thanks Gini for sparking more discussion – I think it’s great.  – Scott

      • @scott_benson You hit on one of my main concerns Scott – and its something that used to manifest itself on the large SEO team I led for three years.
        It’s one thing to know how to do something for SEO. It’s quite another to know WHY you’re doing it that way. If you only know HOW and not WHY, you will not know to change if/when Google changes the rules of the game. 🙂

        • Claire Celsi

          @Sean McGinnis  @scott_benson Sean, exactly. But the wire services “posting” feature are not being marketed for SEO, they are still charging for sending the release to reporters. But they never share data like who opened it, who deleted it, etc. It’s a major ripoff.

  • I feel like it’s my birthday. Thank you so much! This issue has been bothering me for a long time and just wasn’t making sense.
    After reading through your research the first thought I had was that if the release is setup properly then Google, realizing that wire releases are frequent and a big deal, views the website within the release as the “parent” of the duplicate release content and therefore the content positively impacts the seo of the client website not the news release. But if multiple sites are listed (say a charity) it could boost both ao maye that isnt right. I guess either way it sounds like that is debatable …

    • @kateupdates If you use a canonical link (I linked to a site up there that walks you through how to do it), you’ll be able to manage the SEO value for your clients.

  • DickCarlson

    I’ve read Matt Cutts’ stuff for years.  But if I was a big dog at Google, and wanted to obscure how our algorithm worked, I’d print the FUD in Matt’s blog.

    • @DickCarlson Let’s link to his blog and see what happens to AES content!

  • prweb

    @John_Trader1 @spinsucks I literally JUST clicked on the link to read it!

    • John_Trader1

      @prweb Feel that the answer is still nebulous. This would be an interesting blog for you to explore. I’d love to read your thoughts & data.

      • jeffespo

        @John_Trader1 nice use of the word nebulus there…

        • John_Trader1

          @jeffespo Thanks man, been dying to throw that one out.

      • prweb

        @John_Trader1 We’re thinking the same. Will probably comment on @spinsucks and then write a little bloggy-blog 🙂

        • John_Trader1

          @prweb Look forward to reading that!

        • ginidietrich

          @prweb @John_Trader1 It’s driving me crazy there is no “right” answer. We’ve seen big SEO value for our clients, but Google says no.

        • RichBecker

          @ginidietrich @prweb @John_Trader1 Stop thinking about what search engines do with it and start thinking about what people do with it. 🙂

        • John_Trader1

          @richbecker But people wouldn’t be able to do anything with it unless it existed in search engines in the 1st place, right?

        • RichBecker

          @John_Trader1 Oh right, how could I forget. I don’t connect to people, I search for them.

        • John_Trader1

          @richbecker Searching and connecting are two different entities, let’s not blur the lines between them discussing #SEO.

        • RichBecker

          @John_Trader1 How can you not? That is the point John, even if I was cheeky. SEO and social are becoming more blurred than ever. #SEO

        • John_Trader1

          @richbecker Sure, I see your point. Why don’t you go to the blog & comment? It’d be much more effective & impactful than a rant on twitter.

        • RichBecker

          @John_Trader1 I intend too, but I have to finish grading papers first. Hardly a rant, though, at least from my perspective. Cheers.

        • John_Trader1

          @richbecker We are all in this together but entitled to our own opinions. I get it.

        • RichBecker

          @John_Trader1 Sure, I’m a little more lighthearted than you might guess. Btw, our conversation is part of the post. Appreciate the chat.

        • ginidietrich

          @RichBecker I agree, but that wasn’t the question. It was do releases have SEO power? We think yes. Google says no @prweb @John_Trader1

        • John_Trader1

          @ginidietrich I was trying to say that, but I guess it didn’t come across.

        • RichBecker

          @ginidietrich I appreciate that Gini, and rounded out my answer in a comment. 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @RichBecker I appreciate that back…and I’m hungry.

        • ginidietrich

          @John_Trader1 I think you did, but I wasn’t cc’d on it. I see it now.

  • JodiEchakowitz

    This is really timely. Earlier this week, a client was considering his options for the distribution of a new product announcement, and I suggested a newswire purely for the SEO value. I also reinforced that media coverage comes from targeted media outreach (we never count newswire clippings as coverage). I plan to share your post with the client as a follow up, but It also gives me food for thought in terms of using a newswire as a news starter. I never thought of it that way, but I would love to experiment with it. I’d love to see some case studies of it being used to tell a story vs. news. Do you have one you could point me to?

    • @JodiEchakowitz I can’t think of anything immediately…but I’m going to do a test for the next 30 days. See me at the end of March.

  • RhondaHurwitz

    @ginidietrich @SpinSucks glad you posted this … been asking this Question for a long time. What’s the right thing to do for clients?

    • ginidietrich

      @RhondaHurwitz I think it’s really about experimentation. And releases HAVE to be part of a larger communications strategy.

      • RhondaHurwitz

        PR releases for SEO value? it’s complicated: excellnt convo over at @SpinSucks … … via @ginidietrich

  • LouiseT_PR

    @ginidietrich @spinsucks Some really interesting discussion there, thanks for sharing!

    • ginidietrich

      @LouiseT_PR My pleasure!

  • I own an online publicity company that distributes press releases online — including a package that features distribution through our newswire partner, PR Newswire. I have to beg to differ with your statement that the press release itself won’t rank with Google. 🙂 It depends highly on whether or not your press release was written with *only* journalists in mind or if you’ve also optimized it for SEO. If you have a keyword in your title, and the distribution site you are using has been structured with SEO in mind, your release has an excellent chance of ranking well in Google News and Google organic.
    As an example, I distributed a press release for my husband almost three years ago with the keyword “fort myers cfp” and it is still ranking quite well in organic search results.
    I agree with Frank that Google treats press release distribution differently and most reputable places include reference to the origin of the news release. What we have always told our clients is that distribution online doesn’t REPLACE traditional PR by any means. It is still recommended to hire a PR firm that has the connections and knows how to really position you and your company in such a way that you get the visibility and press you are looking for. BUT — there is no reason to leave out online distribution. It doesn’t appear to hurt to publish a press release online and there are plenty of stories and examples where it has helped tremendously — whether through SEO or even sales.
    Speaking of sales, the other reason to publish online has nothing to do with journalists or SEO. Oftentimes you can include a video, additional images, links to your sales page, etc… making your published release a secondary sales landing page for your product or business. If your PR happens to rank well in the search engines because you used it to target a long-tail keyword? Awesome! One more way for people to find you! 🙂
    Okay — I’ve obviously started a novel here. Online PR publishing is a passion of mine….

    • @TaraGeissinger And now you have some of your guest post written. 🙂

  • Seems like there’s a new “press releases are dead” or “press releases are great” argument every year or two. From where I stand, the press release as a form of communication is fine, and will continue to be fine when used as part of a smart content strategy. And that’s the point that I think M.C. and Google is trying to make, there is NO unequivocal “yes use them or no don’t” because at the end of the day good content is the most important factor.
    As for us using the wires for SEO….if your content is good/engaging and has a real audience and is part of a larger strategy, despite Google’s refusal to admit it my experience is that it does help SEO. If your content is bad it will only amplify the badness. (Full disclosure: I work for a multimedia production unit of PR Newswire, I’m not speaking for them here at all, simply offering my own observations).

    • @JoeCardillo I agree. I think the key here is your statement “when used as part of a smart content strategy.” I love including press releases in our content marketing and visibility marketing. I feel like they fill a need that I can’t otherwise fill — but they certainly aren’t the ONLY things we’re doing!

      • @TaraGeissinger It’s amazing how people still think it’s magic, as if you can somehow just do one thing well and everyone will shower you with accolades. A news release is still a valuable tool, but forward thinking clients also distribute short and snappy text based on blog posts, white papers, research, etc…, and it’s immensely helpful to them too. Good content and good strategy is hard work.

        • @JoeCardillo We still laugh about a client we had a few years back who called to ask if we could let him know *exactly* when his press release was going to be published — so he could “man the phones!” 🙂 He was so positive that publishing that one release was going to flood his business with sales. *sigh*

        • @TaraGeissinger  @JoeCardillo Oh poor soul, lol

  • CourtJones_

    @gopage1 yes

  • writingprincess

    Matt Cutts is GOD…defy him at your peril…that said he is human so eh?! I think all content has SEO value – good and bad- but links to valuable content is the best. Who cares if you rank high for a made up word that no one but you are looking for WTH does that prove? Nothing. Besides ranking #1 shouldn’t be your SEO goal anyway-getting conversions should. Rank’s important but what people find when they click on your link is more important. Matt Cutts is not a boob, he and his pals at Google have figured amazing ways to get around goofy tricks. My advise stop the SEO shannigans, create great content, deliver stellar service, and offer an amazing product and garner the type of duplicate content that still trumps Google: NEWS COVERAGE!

    • @writingprincess God AND human!? LOL!

      • writingprincess

        @ginidietrich @writingprincess speaks to the duality of optimization…there’s solid dos and WTH??? Divine and ordinary, formula and fluke, they all have a place in SEO even wicked ways. E=mc2 it’s not!

  • It’s that thing about keeping yourself “educated on the changes at Google” that trips me up. Thank goodness I can come to this blog and read your take on it. #timesaver  😉

    • @allenmireles There are so many jokes to make…and so little time.

  • LouHoffman

    Here’s a subset to the question–
    Take a heavyweight media product like Reuters. Does the Google search algorithm have a way to distinguish between syndicated content and real journalism? Both hang off of
    This ends up being a big deal because Reuters isn’t the only major media property to stockpile news releases.
    My own read — with the caveat that I do not have SEO guru status — is these links end up being incredibly valuable because of the “juice” from the property.

    • @LouHoffman This is one I’m exploring pretty deeply in Spin Sucks. ALL of the major media sites do this. But it’s not seen as content farming or duplicate content that would take them down because they majority of what they publish is original. That’s why you can write a guest post for someone and then a few weeks later post it on your own site. Most of your content is original so that one every once in a while won’t hurt you.

      • LouHoffman

        @ginidietrich And I think the same dynamic takes place with news releases. Otherwise, why would books like the Journal and NYT stockpile news releases. Now, some of them will whitewash the links before storing the content which makes the discussion moot.

        • @LouHoffman  @ginidietrich There are other reasons why a big site would do this Lou. There is value added to their readers from an on-site search perspective. If I’m on the Times site and search for a company it helps their brand if there are those releases there. There’s ways to block those pages from ever even hitting Google’s index if needed, but as Gini pointed out there’s no real danger for those sites form a duplicate content standpoint.

        • LouHoffman

          @Sean McGinnis  @ginidietrich Thanks Sean. I hadn’t considered that point.

  • Claire Celsi

    I think this article and big news wire distributors like PR Newswire, Cision and the rest are entirely missing the point. I think the real point is…Who really cares that your news release is posted on a bazillion subterranian pages on massive sites? Unless there’s a headline or something taking people to the information (like you’d get with a reported story) then it simply doesn’t matter. It becomes just another piece of outdated cyber junk in a matter of days. My humble opinion, of course.

    • @Claire Celsi I don’t disagree…but there are lots and lots and lots of CEOs who DO care. They LOVE to see the number of sites that ran their important news release. We used to fight the battle and tell them, in the big scheme of things, it doesn’t matter one iota. But sometimes we just do it because it does help with search rankings, it makes them happy, and it’s an inexpensive way to do it.

      • Claire Celsi

        @ginidietrich  @Claire Celsi I know, clients love to see these fake meaningless “numbers” even though the PR pro is not provided with any analytics to see how many eyeballs landed on their content. Personally, I’d rather help my clients create meaningful content on sites they own so they can increase SEO organically and have real control over their own failures and successes. Plus, it’s way cheaper. Wires are a big ripoff. It costs wire services pennies to send out your release and they mark it up 1000x.

        • @Claire Celsi I’d rather that, too, but sometimes you pick your battles. For some clients, I’ll fight it. For others, there are bigger battles to fight.

  • RichBecker

    Sometimes I think we get carried away with asking what comes first, the chicken or the egg. The reality of search engines and social media is that neither exists in a vacuum. Of course you can use a wire service to distribute a release because the audience is there, and that audience might give seo value to that release when they share it (or other search engines might).
    So even if releases do not have seo value according to Google (I tend to think they do, in a much more round about way), the discussion is kind of wonky. Even if releases do not have search engine value, they still have a conversation value after they move beyond the distribution point (assuming they were any good). This is precisely why I love this experiment so much, even if it lacks a control that might find a different content platform might have produced the same results.
    The value is there, but I think the real lesson (the same one Google keeps trying to convince people is true) is that it will pay in the long run to think about people first and search engines second. And if that isn’t 100 percent true today (which it isn’t), someday it will be. For better or worse.
    Great stuff as always Gini!

    • @RichBecker Thanks! Will you make me a sammich now?

      • RichBecker

        @ginidietrich Come to Vegas Gini. I’ll make you an entire lunch, dessert included.

  • ginidietrich

    @LouHoffman LOL

    • LouHoffman

      @ginidietrich You know it just encourages me if I know even one person is paying attention.

      • ginidietrich

        @LouHoffman I totally pay attention. I think you’re hilarious!

  • jenzings

    Quick question that may or may not be related to this that I stumbled across today. I was reading a news release on PR Newswire, and after about 10 seconds (not enough time to read the whole release, I might add) it redirects to the company who issued the release’s web page.
    Is this a new thing that I’m just now being made aware of, and if so, what is its purpose?

    • @jenzings I hope someone who knows will answer that. I’ve not seen it!

      • @ginidietrich  @jenzings Well, I can certainly answer the last part of the question.
        It’s purpose is to maximize traffic to the web site of the client, which maximizes the value the client perceives is coming form their spend with PR Newswire. 😉

        • @Sean McGinnis  @ginidietrich  @jenzings Lot of services use iFrames, but I’ve never heard of that approach before. Sounds like a glitch or a bad idea.

        • jenzings

          @Frank_Strong  @Sean McGinnis  @ginidietrich I am kind of hoping it is a glitch, because the release was from a very large and respected marketing/ad/PR firm. That said, it happened on another release from them too, so if it’s a glitch, it’s across all of their news releases.
          And again, it’s wicked annoying to not even be able to finish reading the release before one is bumped to the website.

        • @jenzings  @Frank_Strong  @Sean McGinnis  @ginidietrich You mean you can’t read a press release in 10 seconds either? Whew. That’s a relief….for a while there I thought I might have, um, literacy problems;)
          Tara and Frank are probably right, it sounds like an iFrames issue. It’s not my area of expertise, but would you mind providing the URL or a keyword or two I can use to lookup? I’d like to pass along to our team.

        • jenzings

          @JoeCardillo  Sure–here’s the link:–mather-announces-further-investment-in-mobile-marketing-through-south-africa-acquisition-193831261.html
          Surely it’s a glitch, no one would want their release skipped. I use Firefox as a browser, just in case that piece of info is of any help.

        • @jenzings  @JoeCardillo muchas gracias!

    • TaraFriedlundGeissinger

      @jenzings Was there an iFrame below the press release displaying their website? If their website doesn’t allow for iFrames, it will automatically redirect to their homepage. Maybe that’s what happened?

      • jenzings

        @TaraFriedlundGeissinger  I think that might be it. Down at the bottom there is a site preview/close site preview option, but it just automatically diverts away from the news release! Super strange, and very annoying.

        • @jenzings  I think that is probably it. I have seen that happen quite a bit before. Usually there is something on the client’s site that a programmer can change to allow the site to be viewed in an iFrame. Can you tell programming is akin to magic for me? LOL

        • jenzings

          @TaraGeissinger You and me both! Dark forces, magic, etc.

  • jfritsche

    A client that I’ve been doing releases for over the past year and change has seen an incredible SEO lift from the press releases–surprisingly, it has been a bigger lift than even our traditional SEO work in the content on their site. We started pretty much at ground zero, so seeing the work have an immediate, direct impact has been quite rewarding. That has just been a bonus side effect of why we started doing the releases in the first place, but it makes the client super happy, so I’ll take it!

    • @jfritsche Thank you for saying that. See @Sean McGinnis ?!?!

      • TaraFriedlundGeissinger

        @ginidietrich @jfritsche @Sean McGinnis Yes! That’s what I was talking about earlier. I love using them too – and not in an effort to “game” SEO, but in an effort to increase my client’s traffic, boost their SEO and continue to add to their credibility online. If you are creating and publishing news about your company that is engaging and utilizes multimedia, it’s a perfect complement to a robust online marketing campaign.

    • @jfritsche How confident are you that this “incredible SEO lift” is from the releases? Measuring anything over a year + allows for a lot of wiggle room in terms of what happens and when – which is what makes SEO such a tough nut to crack.
      I honestly don’t know. I’m not looking at your data (or yours either Gini).
      Over the past year+ there have been about three dozen or more changes by Google any random handful of which could easily explain any major rank and traffic changes, up or down. beyond the changes to the algo, there are undoubtedly other things that are happening to the site as well in terms of updates, further links, social shares, etc… Again, any one of these changes might have impacted.

      • jfritsche

        @Sean McGinnis  I’m confident because it shows up plain as day in our analytics. Whenever we send out a new release it gets pushed out via social and on their own site, as well as the newswire. We see all the clicks coming into the company’s site from those locations. When you search for this company’s name (I’d share if I could, but I can’t) you see their releases all over the results. They used to not really rank at all, even if you searched their own company name. It was BAD. I think the SEO from the releases really created a good foundation for them to build from, because their site redo wasn’t actually finished until months after the PR portion of their campaign took off.
        You’re not wrong in that lots of changes have happened that could easily have boosted SEO over and above anything releases are able to accomplish. And I’m not saying they’re the only thing that has generated good results for us. But I think it was really easy for us to see what was going on with the impact on the SEO for this client because they basically started with nothing. The way we implemented content for them was a very layered approach, so we’ve been able to monitor what works and what hurts quite well. 
        Every client is going to be different. I’m confident that this wouldn’t make nearly as much impact on some of our other clients who are very established online–but I do think it would make more of an impact than most people think. And with the right client, like the one we’ve seen such awesome results for, it can be an essential tool.

        • @jfritsche “Whenever we send out a new release it gets pushed out via social and on their own site, as well as the newswire. We see all the clicks coming into the company’s site from those locations.”
          That’s not SEO.

        • @Sean McGinnis I get what you’re saying Sean.  But traffic is a signal. Social sharing is a signal. As far as most of us can tell, none weigh so much as a backlink, but they are factors. And traffic is earned, in my opinion, not gamed.  Where am I wrong? @jfritsche

        • jfritsche

          @Sean McGinnis I know that…I mean, give me a little credit. 😉 That’s what I get for responding on the train. The point I was (poorly) making was that while we get traffic indicators from our process, we also get actual keyword boosts every time we put out a release. The analytics show as much. Like I said before, it isn’t all we are doing by a long shot, but we do see actual results and they are stronger than I’d have thought releases could provide. All I can tell you is the rankings are there, they weren’t when we started, and the releases have played a large role in that.

        • @Frank_Strong  @jfritsche You’re not wrong. But traffic coming from the releases proper is not SEO. At least it’s not necessarily SEO. if people visited those pages from anywhere other than a search engine, then it’s not even search related.
          That’s been part of my concern about this post and in fact the entire thread. “helps with SEO” is an amorphous thing. It’s important to me to nail down the perceived value we are all talking about here. Here are a number of possible “SEO values” associated with press releases:
          1. Adding the release to your site adds content related to a specific keyword not otherwise covered on other page of your own site.
          2. Links embedded in the release add SEO value to your site when the release is published to the news release domains.
          3. Links embedded in the release add SEO value to your site if/when the release is syndicated to other sites beyond the news release sites
          4. Links are embedded in stories written by a journalist who reads the release and decides to write/blog about the angle your release discussed.
          5. There is co-citation or semantic values to the fact your name appeared near specific keywords on the release.
          Sorry, but it’s important to me that we narrow down the value that is being touted by people who claim there is value. I’m not trying to argue against that value necessarily. I have no access to her data (or Gini’s). But what was said above is not, IMHO, related to SEO.

        • @jfritsche   Sorry. My skeptic hat is constantly covering up my manners. I’d love to give you more credit, but we just met. 😉
          If you say there’s value, then I suppose I’ll have to take your word for it. See my note above. One of the things that’s really important to me is to understand WHY things are happening. I’ve seen it far too many times that people who think they understand things believe THIS is happening because of THAT, when oftentimes THIS is actually happening in spite of THAT.
          Even if they ARE helping, I’d want to see more so I can try to determine WHY they are helping. I’ll have to run some test of my own one of these days.

        • @Sean McGinnis I understand where you’re coming from.  I get the same way about PR.  I’d add a sixth bullet to your list — it’s one that’s overlook:
          6.  How are people finding that release? 
          The answer will lead us right back to where this sub-thread started.  I don’t want to debate what is and what is not proper SEO (And I think you mean that in an academic/professional point of pride sense vice white or black).  

        • jfritsche

          @Sean McGinnis Heh, no worries! When I went back and read my reply to you, I realized how it sounded. 
          I would actually love for you to run your own tests and see what happens, and then report back. I would probably nerd out over that.

        • @jfritsche More to the point, if you read what Matt Cutts actually wrote, it’s fairly targeted in scope. I believe his point (so far as I can tell) is that the links from the news releases that are published on the release sites themselves are probably not helping with rank – Or number 2 in my list of potential benefits above. That still leaves a lot of potential value  – value that is optimized when we write valuable releases.

  • News wire.
    When PR people say it, they are thinking PR Web, Cisions’ service, market wire, etc.
    When I hear it, I’m thinking AP, Reuters, etc.

    • @ClayMorgan Isn’t that funny!? Different strokes…

      • @ginidietrich What you talkin’ ’bout Gini? Sorry…couldn’t resist.

        • @ClayMorgan Yesterday I said to Mr. D, “You should listen to your wife.” He said, “What?”
          Oh funny man.

    • belllindsay

      @ClayMorgan Me too Clay. #oldskool

  • ninagrenningloh

    Good question… RT @ginidietrich News releases distributed on the wires… are they duplicate content?

  • Wow. Didn’t see that coming. 
    Flipping through the comments here and notice a lot of them steer away from the original question. I’m with @Sean McGinnis and take Matt Cutt’s advice as gold. The consequences of gaming are simply too severe to gamble.  Further, why game SEO?  Gaming is akin to spin, which this blog and community is staunchly against.
    Do press releases help visibility?  Do they drive traffic?  That’s a different question.  No doubt they do.  Beyond question.   Over the years I’ve seen so many small businesses able to make news that would have never seen the light of day without a release. 
    Do they need to be well written?  Yep.  Are headlines important?  No doubt. Does timing matter?  Of course.  Should you hyperlink key words?  Absolutely.  Other things that press release writers should do:
    – embed YouTube videos when possible; ensure it’s properly tagged and has a good description.
    – use photos, and set the ALT tag categories with key words relevant to the content
    – just like a blog, don’t overdo the links — about one link for every hundred words
    – focus on good clear writing, link to relevant sources that provide additional information
    – good old fashion pitching, when an announcement merits it
    It’s the combination of these things that increase visibility and tend to *earn* links from bloggers and reporters.  Good content that helps prospective customers will always find a reader.
    Finally, track the referral traffic in GA.

    • @Frank_Strong  Sorry – I didn’t mean to surprise you. I just really like what you said and thought it was valuable to the conversation.

      • @ginidietrich No worries!   Was just going through my Google+ feed and fell out of my chair. 🙂 
        It’s a good discussion.  Lot of people have these questions.

        • @Frank_Strong LOL! I should have sent you a heads-up. I didn’t think you’d mind because we had the conversation on G+

        • @ginidietrich I don’t mind.  G+ is public.  I try not to say things that would embarrass my grandmother. 🙂

  • Frank_Strong

    @itsjessicann Gin’s incredible. Love her like a sister. @ginidietrich

    • ginidietrich

      @Frank_Strong I love you back!

      • Frank_Strong

        @ginidietrich Yah! #hugsforeverybody!

  • ginidietrich

    @itsjessicann Thank you!

  • Mededitor

    @profkrg We’ve been operating on the assumption that pushing something out via PR Newswire gives it more oomph. @ginidietrich

    • ginidietrich

      @Mededitor From what we can tell, that assumption is correct @profkrg

  • wearestargazer

    @markwschaefer @ginidietrich We would say directly not much but indirectly yes.

  • NaushadSaboor

    “Do News Releases Have SEO Value When Distributed Via a Wire? via @ginidietrich @markwschaefer @SocialBuzz”

  • jasonkintzler1

    We should chat, Gina. Times are changing and so is content discovery. We’re doing communicators a disservice if we keep steering them to more easy buttons – those don’t exist. PR isn’t about just garnering impressions – it’s about relevant exposure. We have to begin to take the lead role in brand journalism or else journalists (or someone else) will. It’s a golden opportunity and press releases aren’t going to cut it.

    • @jasonkintzler1 Hey Jason. Thanks for the comment. A couple of things: My name is Gini, not Gina. Secondly, we never steer anyone here to more easy buttons or impressions. If anything, I’m one of the loudest voices in the industry against that type of thinking. In fact, it goes against everything we do and the vision of the blog (kind of evident in the name). This is *one* tactic underneath a very large umbrella and the question was, “Do releases have SEO value?” There seems to be an ongoing discussion about how Google looks at releases – some have anecdotal evidence it works while others say no way. My point of this one blog post was to add to a larger discussion about how to use releases on a wire. By no means are they dead, but they do have to be thought about differently. You’ll notice today we further the discussion with a guest post from someone at one of the wires. That’s how we provide service to the industry…not by giving them easy buttons.

      • jasonkintzler1

        @ginidietrich Sorry for the typo, Gini 😉

        • @jasonkintzler1 Thanks! I’m a bit sensitive to it…like fingernails on a chalkboard.

  • MikeToner

    I agree with Jason below- things are changing and so is content discovery…no doubt about it.
    I spent several years as one of the SEO leads at Business Wire and for a while there was no better way to boost organic SEO than press releases. All that changed with Panda and Google basically shutting down the content farms overnight.
    My recommendation is to focus on the true, targeted content created and distribution- via YOUR OWN channels whether it’s a blog, or social media sites.
    Newswires still have value but you have write the press release for the reader, not for the search robot. This means you have to provide quality content and quality links so that user clicks on them they will enjoy what you’ve shared with them- not because Google will reward you for it.
    Tell a good story first.
    If you write and distribute crap you are never going to get to the top of google anyway right>?

    • @MikeToner I love this —> “Newswires still have value but you have to write the press release for the reader, not for the search robot. This means you have to provide quality content and quality links.” I agree 100%.
      There are always going to be people who try to scam the system and push out sub-par press releases in an effort to gain more links and boost their SEO. Google’s updates are targeting exactly those users. Assuming that we AREN’T those users and we are producing quality news announcements, then I still like publishing them online — in addition to all of the other marketing strategies I am using.
      I think the idea that press release publishing is either “right” or a “wrong” is flawed. You said it yourself, they work. I’ve seen them work firsthand. When a quality message is tweaked with SEO in mind, the results can be pretty impressive. That’s why I will continue to include them in my visibility marketing plans.

    • @MikeToner By no means did I write this with the intent of saying you should write for robots. I 1,000% agree with you ALL content has to be written for humans and not robots. But that wasn’t the point…the point is DO releases have SEO value (if they’re written well and all that) if distributed on the wires. We have data that shows they do. Google says they don’t. My research in writing a book has found what you said – with Panda and Penguin, the juice is gone. But we keep experimenting with it and have found the opposite. Perhaps we’re just really good at storytelling through releases? 🙂

      • @ginidietrich  @MikeToner This all makes me think that we should:
        a) Always keep in mind that what Google says and Google does are very separate things. They are a company w/competitive interests, not an impartial agency, and they have public, semi-public, and private agendas. Nothing wrong with that, simply means we don’t get easy answers for everything and have to be flexible and creative in our thinking.
        b) Consider the possibility of taking Google at face value when they say they are truly trying to provide good content. IF this is true, then part of how they structure search means they don’t write off duplicate content / stuff that goes over the wire automatically (despite what they say), because humans wouldn’t do so. When a press release goes over the wire and is widely shared on social networks/linked to or used in part or republished in part on other reputable sites, these signals indicate good content. It’s not just about the content itself, duplicate or not, it’s about what it means and what it compels people to do. I would think that is what matters the most to Google because that’s what puts the dollars in their pocket.

  • rustyspeidel

    What about creating a short release that links back to the bigger story on your company site?

    • @rustyspeidel I don’t know why that wouldn’t work as long as you’re smart about the canonical link, you’re writing something for humans, and you test, test, test.

  • rimmkaufman

    @rustyspeidel press releases should be part of a marketing strategy, not SEO per se. They can lead to press coverage, and that can help SEO.

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