Is News Release Distribution for SEO Dead?

The days of pseudo-news releases that are purely SEO tools are dead and should be buried.

The public relations and SEO PR worlds are still reeling a bit after the big changes that came in Google’s latest algorithm update, dubbed Penguin 2.0.   Simply put, they have changed the role of the news release, or at least altered it once again.

google-seoFor years, many (including myself) have advocated the use of news release distribution as a search engine optimization (SEO) tool.  The strategy was that by embedding links and sending releases out via distribution networks like PRWeb, Businesswire and OnlinePRMedia, you could increase the number of inbound links to your website and thus increase its search rankings.  A secondary, but also very important, benefit of this release distribution was discovery.  By having your release available in multiple locations, you increased the chance of someone finding it.

Penguin 2.0 has changed all of that.  There are two new and important rules from Google that relate to news release distribution:

  • Press releases will be treated as a paid placement by Google.
  • Optimized anchor text links in a press release distribution will be considered “unnatural” and will not pass PageRank in Google search results.

Essentially what this means is that those links in news releases won’t help you anymore.  In fact, they could hurt you.

So, does this kill news release distribution for SEO?  I don’t believe so.  However, it does change it and perhaps reduces its impact. I checked into what some of the distribution firms are doing.  A quick survey of Businesswire, OnlinePRMedia and PRLeap shows that they all made the change to give outbound links from their news releases a “no-follow” attribute.  This means that Google will ignore them, and thus not “ding” your website for having a paid or unnatural link.

What this change in Google also means is that quality content is even more critical. In an email discussion with Christine O’Kelly from OnlinePRMedia, she agreed:

“To win in search today is to have substance — not just a good SEO company. There are companies with substance that have seen a drop — but from what I’ve experienced, it’s because they aren’t doing a great job of conveying that substance, getting others to talk about them, and making a presence for themselves. That’s what a PR firm does — and press releases are one of the tools that PR firms use.”

A blog post from Fred Godlash and John Leung at Businesswire echos that sentiment:

For example, if the Associated Press picked up your press release and did a national story, you would not gain links simply from having your story on AP, but from the subsequent results of that story. The benefit happens when millions of readers discover your story and engage with your company or brand. They may choose to link to you or share that information on their social networks.

So, what do you do?  Should you stop paying for online distribution?  No .. you shouldn’t.  However, while content has been king for a while, it’s now the grand high emperor for life.  Well thought-out and well written and executed content that is interesting to your audience will be retweeted, posted on Facebook, and even posted on Google+ (if you do that sort of thing).  It will also be blogged about (like the Businesswire post I quoted above) and news organizations will write about it.  That’s how you gain links in the current Google environment.  Using online release distribution will increase the number of people who can potentially find your content, and thus is a tool you should consider using.

5 Ways to Engage And Grow Your Facebook Audience

Facebook?If you manage a Facebook Page for your business or organization, you’ve surely noticed that not all of the people who “liked” your page see every update.  Even taking away the fact that not everyone is on Facebook on any given day when you post, the amount of people who have your update show up in their news feed can be as low as one percent of your total fan base or even less.  You can thank Facebook’s drive for more advertisers for that.  What can help boost that number, however, is engagement.  It’s a fact that if more people “like” or comment on a post today, more people will see it, and that engagement can even boost the number of people who see your next post.  Because of this, it’s crucial to select material to post that is designed for engagement.  Here are 5 ways to engage and grow your Facebook audience:

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Why Do Facebook Ads Bother People?

Why do people worry about Facebook advertising?

Facebook

Currently, there are two types of Facebook ads.  One is a small ad that promotes a Facebook page or possibly a regular non-Facebook website.  These can be found on the right side of your news feed.  The second type of ad is a promoted post.  This appears in your actual feed and looks like a regular news feed item from one of your friends or “liked” pages, but is labeled as advertising.

Every time Facebook rolls out an update, people clamber to discuss whether advertising will become more “invasive” into the experience.   Every time Facebook shuffles things around or come up with new ideas, there is a huge outcry from people who would prefer it stays the same.  The biggest concern is that the ads become bigger or more distracting, but plenty of people complain loudly about them the way they are right now.

The question is … why?

We don’t pay for Facebook.  Even if we did, it might still have ads.  For hundreds of years people paid for the privilege of reading newspapers and magazines.  There are a lot of us who haven’t cracked one of those printed publications recently, but if you can get your hands on one, I urge you to flip to any page and look around.  Chances are you’ll find an advertisement, and it might even take up the whole page.

Yes … that’s right … we PAID for printed publications AND had to look at ads.

So, why does it bother people that a free social networking site that has to answer to shareholders is going to display ads, and they might not be small and easy to ignore?  Think about it and give me your opinions in comments below.

A Primer for Instagram: Social Media for Elementary Schoolers

I went down the Instagram rabbit hole today.  I figured it was just time.  Previously, I’d learned enough about it to be able to speak semi-intelligently about it if needed.  However, I’d never felt the need to use it and its use never came up for a client.  I never like being a late adopter, so today I dug into it.

InstagramInstagram was launched in 2010 and was purchased by Facebook last spring.  The service currently claims 100-million active monthly users.  They lost quite a few users after an unfortunate decision to change their privacy policy late last year.

Using Instagram is pretty simple, really, particularly if you’re already a Facebook and/or Twitter user.  If you think about mobile Facebook with only pictures, you’ll get Instagram.  Take a picture, apply filters and frames to the picture if you choose, and then post it.  You follow people and hope they follow you, and you can comment on each other’s photos.  You can adjust your privacy settings so only your friends can see your pictures, or anyone can see them.  Like Twitter, you can apply hashtags to photos so they can be categorized.

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Who Are the Millennials?

As a member of the Generation of X, I feel like I know a little bit about people my age.  The generation before us, the Baby Boomers, have been written about far too much, so everyone knows about them (and is probably sick of them).  However, who are the Millennials?  This generation, whose parents are mostly Baby Boomers, are hard to define.  However, given that they are now in their 20s up to around 30, we marketers can’t ignore them.  Yahoo News recently re-published a story that tried to define them, and in my view did a pretty good job.  Here’s how Yahoo describes the Millennials:

  1. They’re natural entrepreneurs…
  2. …But they aren’t acting on whatever entrepreneurial instincts they have
  3. They’re spendthrifts…
  4. …And they’re broke
  5. They’re socialists
  6. They’re narcissistic
  7. They’re politically engaged
  8. They’re less religious
  9. They’re stressed out

You can check out the full article for more explanation of that list.  Obviously each of these doesn’t describe EVERY Millennial, but overall I’d say it’s fair, based on my observations.  I might add one more — They’re connected.  More than any other generation, this one is likely to be found with its eyes glued to a smartphone or tablet.

What do you think?  Let me know in comments.

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