Do you have what it takes to create and distribute stellar content in the form of press releases without terminating your friendship with Google? It’s no secret that search engines work around the clock to ensure a flawless web experience for all categories of web users. This means that Google is constantly plotting against content creators who rely on less orthodox search engine optimization to bring their websites on page 1 in search engine results, boost their online visibility and fill their own pockets the easy way.
Unfortunately, the never-ending string of sneaky changes sometimes manages to puzzle even the most experienced webmasters and stop them from getting a good night’s sleep. What seems acceptable today becomes intolerable tomorrow. Google, can you please make up your mind and surprise us with a little bit of consistency? The bad news is that it is not in our power to control Google, its plentitude of algorithm updates and its endless list of surprises, which is probably longer than the one that Santa prepares for us on every single year. The good news is that even though we cannot anticipate or correct Google’s independent spirit, we can adapt to these new challenges and breathe new life into our old content marketing strategy.
You may be aware of the fact that Google has a real problem with bad link building strategies. And by “bad” we mean deceptive and designed to manipulate search engine results to the webmaster’s advantage. According to Search Engine Watch, Google may also be bothered by press releases that are created and distributed to help a certain website occupy a better position in search engines without actually doing readers any favors.
The same source mentions the fact that Google seems determined to squeeze every single drop of SEO juice from press releases; this appears to be a diabolic master plan that was rolled out quite some time ago. The most pressing problem that has recently come to our attention is this: Google is actually cataloging links in press releases as “unnatural”. As a result, it is compelling webmasters to nofollow them. So what does this major change mean for companies and organizations that depend on properly optimized press releases to highlight their mission, vision and purpose in business?
Search Engine Watch reveals that in 2006, press releases were a real gold mine for SEO experts who knew how to give wings to an inspired marketing message and optimize quality content for search engines at the same time. 8 years later, press releases are no longer considered the Holy Grail of search engine optimization. On the contrary, sloppiness and your refusal to comply with Google’s rules and guidelines while writing press releases can get you in serious trouble and expose you to considerable penalties. Don’t say you haven’t been warned: according to Search Engine Land, press releases won’t help your rankings. This statement is supported by Matt Cutts, who revealed that press releases cannot and will not improve your current position in Google.
So what’s the best method to keep risks at bay and still profit from the good that still lies in every single well-written press release? People who want to rely on press releases to spread the word about their companies by publishing their content via article websites or paid wire services such as Marketwire, Business Wire or PR Newswire are advised to nofollow their links, especially if they represent optimized anchor texts.
In this particular context, the rel nofollow attribute seems to be a life preservative that is your one and only hope when you are just about to sink in an ocean of gray hat SEO tactics and uncertainties. When in doubt, just use rel nofollow to stay in Google’s good graces. Rules may be created to be broken, but this is certainly not the case. The nofollow tactic seems a simple, easy to implement preventive measure that could enable many content creators to avoid penalties. But older press releases that have already been distributed and republished by countless sources are the real concern in this case.
In this particular context, one question is on everybody’s lips: will the ghost of already archived press releases that are all over the Internet haunt its creators and distributors? How much time will paid wire services need to clean up this mess and implement new sets of rules to avoid mishaps that could make Google really angry? At this point, nobody can provide an accurate answer to these 2 pressing questions that are on everybody’s mind.
What we do know for a fact is that nothing can stand in the way of clients who want to share their newsworthy facts with the whole world; not even Google’s mood swings. Businesses depend on press releases to boost their visibility, promote lines of products or new services, diversify their clientele and improve brand awareness. From this point of view, press releases are undeniably powerful allies and nothing can change this. There’s only one alteration that should be factored in at this point: links should be handled with gloves.
The rel nofollow alternative represents a viable option at hand for people who don’t want to let Google stop them from creating and distributing first-class press releases that have what it takes to inform and educate a broad audience. In other words, content creators shouldn’t exclude links from their strategy. On the contrary, they should include one or two to help readers land on a company’s blog or website and stimulate them to take action. However, the new changes made public by Google, related to link building strategies in press releases may bring us back to an old-school form of premium PR work, which is not necessarily a step back. After all, PR Newswire reminds us that we should write for living, breathing people, not for machines.
After all, press releases are the bread and butter of most journalists and respectable publications like The New York Times, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, for instance. According to Search Engine Watch, excellent press release wire services, like PRWeb for instance, feed the content hunger of more than 8,000 websites and give millions of people something to talk about. This is only one reason why press releases are truly irreplaceable.
Truth be told, we can’t imagine how gigantic, prestigious newsrooms like Reuters and AP would manage to function without healthy feeds of quality press releases in their system. The problem is that some content creators craft and distribute content just to generate inbound links, which is precisely the thing that drives Google crazy.
To overcome this obstacle, writers, marketers and SEO experts should refresh their memory and remember that press releases are not mere SEO tools used to push a certain page on a privileged position in Google. Press releases should be perceived as high-value content pieces designed to generate authentic reads and clicks and enhance the online visibility of a brand in a natural manner.
Engaging, informative content is the key to success in what press releases are concerned. First-hand newsworthy facts are mandatory, not optional. The one or two links accompanied by the rel nofollow attribute are just the icing on your cake. If all this fuss created around links has made you feel confused, just take a closer look at the 5 foolproof ways to optimize your press releases without exposing yourself to any penalties coming from search engines.
1. Keep the Essential Links to Drive Traffic. The nofollow alternative sounds like music to our ears. Let’s be serious: you cannot ban the usage of links in your press releases. This radical decision would basically defy the purpose of this type of content pieces. How would users be able to spot the company behind the amazing technological breakthrough, the new affordable line of products or the innovative concept that you’re describing with so much enthusiasm in your press release?
2. Convert Press Releases into Useful Inroads to Killer Content Posted on a Blog or a Website. Raise the curiosity of your readers by creating short, concise, compelling press releases that represent the bridge between readers and a company’s blog or website.
3. Come Up with an Intriguing Story Idea. When it comes to stories that could be easily assimilated by the media, new is good. But new and memorable is always better. Try to present a certain fact from a different perspective. Thinking outside the box always pays off. This doesn’t mean that you should feel encouraged to lie or exaggerate facts listed in your press release. It just means that you have craft a compelling story around the news that you are getting ready to serve on a silver platter. Journalists have a nose for interesting facts that could capture the attention of their readers and boost their engagement. This is precisely why they are more likely to pay attention to press releases that come up with a genuine story with a twist, while avoiding dull content pieces that are mostly based on fabricated facts and nonsense.
4. Perfect Your Distribution Strategies. If youalready count on an amazing wire service, like PRWeb for instance, to distribute your press releases, this doesn’t mean that the job is done and you can just cross your arms and wait for miracles to happen. You may not like the news that you’re about to hear, but here it goes: in order to connect with a large segment of readers/prospects, you have to play on multiple fields.
If you rely on a wire service, this means that you are already one step ahead of your main competitors. Keep up the good work by expanding your content distribution strategy. Post your press releases on some of the most popular social media platforms, where they could be read, filtered, assimilated, liked and shared by your fans and followers. Don’t neglect the enormous power of social networking websites. They are extremely valuable channels that enable you to interact with your targeted audience, inform and educate your readers, become a leader in your field of activity and build and maintain solid relationships in the long run.
5. Rely on Multimedia Content to Broaden Your Horizons. In an era in which the Gangnam Style clip managed to go viral and raise almost 2 billion views on YouTube, it becomes more than obvious that press releases based solely on text fragments are so yesterday. Step up your content creating strategy a bit by including multimedia elements in your informative piece. Videos, infographics and images correlated with well-balanced, short paragraphs increase pageviews and keep your readers on your side for the longest period of time (yes, even the ones with a very short attention span).
Create and embed stunning video content to convince journalists and bloggers that what you have to say is actually important, relevant and newsworthy. Remember that the Internet is highly polluted by junk and overly optimized content with very little substance. This is precisely why you have to rely on 5-start multimedia elements to prove the worthiness of your press releases and let the readers know that your content pieces could become the nucleus of high-quality, reader-oriented articles and blog posts. Furthermore, inforgraphics are hotter than ever. Turning your press release into an infographic will only support your content distribution efforts. Many newsrooms are crazy in love with this type of content, so they won’t hesitate to use it and link back to its original source.
These 5 suggestions reflect the fact that press releases are still alive and well. They may no longer be able to help you generate inbound links, create and implement more or less shady link building strategies, boost the link juice of your current optimization campaign, but this doesn’t mean that press releases are useless artifacts. On the contrary, optimized keywords, great attention-grabbing headlines, proper social media strategies, hashtags and stellar multimedia content can and will reward your legitimate SEO efforts and bring your message in front of a large audience who is ready and eager to take notes.
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