An Overview of Press Releases
Press releases are a great way to bring your website extra traffic, improve your domain authority, and provide increased brand recognition, as long as they're used appropriately. When press releases net any of these "bonuses," it can be tempting to increase the frequency of distribution. After all, if one press release can bring in over thousands of pageviews, what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, press releases also can bring negative attention to your website, hurt your domain authority, and decrease trust when written on less newsworthy items. Below we'll break down the reasons why press releases should be seen as "bonus content," and not a dependable avenue for growing your website.
Press Release Best Practices
So, if press releases improve your website, how can they also harm it? Every negative aspect of press releases are manifested in three distinct ways: oversaturation, perceived value, and repetitive links. Let's take a look at why this happens, and how we can work together to avoid them.
Oversaturation & Perceived Value
When the benefits of press releases become obvious to companies, it makes sense to release them more often. Shouldn't this mean that potential clients, investors, journalists, and industry insiders will more often see your business as an essential resource?
Releasing press releases too often results in oversaturation, making it less likely that a reader will follow a link to the website. Consider press releases in the context of the exclamation point. When a sentence is followed by an exclamation point, it adds additional weight to the sentence, and makes it seem important. For example, "Blue Fountain Media publishes a new blog!" In this context, the exclamation point serves to make the reader excited about what Blue Fountain Media may have published.
However, consider this sentence: "Blue Fountain Media publishes a new blog!!!!!!!" Not only do the additional exclamation points undermine the authority of the statement, but each exclamation point also undermines each previous exclamation point, until the value has decreased to such a degree as to make each following exclamation point ineffectual.
The same is true of press releases. When released too often, no matter how newsworthy the press release is, each subsequent press release undermines not only the authority, but also the importance of the following release. This is reflected in both "Reads" and "Pickups" through measurement platforms like Vocus. For Blue Fountain Media, in months in which two press releases were published, the number of pickups on each release was noticeably lower than in months where only one release was published. In months where two press releases are sent out, our first press release of the month averages about 300 pickups:
Compared to about 250 pickups for the second press release of the month:
The best practices for frequency are as follows:
- Only release press releases for newsworthy events, such as new product offerings, new statistical information on your business, and relevant news in your industry directly affecting your business or products.
- Release no more than two press releases a month, though one is preferable.
For a long time, Google viewed links from sites like PRWeb as valid links to your website, which increased your domain authority, page authority, and your website's position in organic search results. This, however, is no longer the case. Google now views PRWeb releases as "paid links," and while this doesn't result in negative SEO when used appropriately, they're best used in moderation for the following reasons.
- Google grants higher domain authority to websites with a varied backlink profile. This means that the sites Google sees as most important are the ones with few links from many sites, as opposed to many links from few sites.
- Press releases link to your website. If other inbound links aren't present, this looks bad to search engines. It means that the only sites in your industry or otherwise willing to give you a link are the sites you've paid to link to you.
This doesn't mean that press releases in moderation will negatively affect your SEO and organic search results for relevant keywords. In fact, press releases can bring limited SEO value when used appropriately, even though they're no follow links. However, what's most important is to also focus on creating great content, like infographics, blogs, and slideshares, which other resources and industry experts may link to, creating a varied backlink profile. This tells Google that you matter in your industry, and that you more than likely have information on your website that would be valued by users.
As with almost every aspect of content, it's important to remember that quality beats quantity. While publishing press releases regularly is essential to get your brand out there and receive additional traffic, your readers come first. Don't simply publish something because you haven't put out a press release in a while. Ensure it's something that reflects your brand, ensure it's well written, and, most importantly, ensure it's newsworthy.