Press Releases & Link Building

I recently wrote a post for the YOUmoz section of SEOmoz which detailed some findings from a quick survey I did.

The survey detailed what companies are spending on press release distribution services and 20 SEO’s from various UK agencies answered the survey. You can read the full post here – Are You Wasting Budget With Online Press Release Distribution?

The spend results were as follows:

press release distribution

As you can see, companies are spending a huge amount with online press distribution services, but the worrying trend was that this was their main link building strategy!!

I went on to test a press release service to see what kind of link value it might hold:

press release results

As you can see the results from a link building point of view were poor, out of 299, less than 15 were indexed in Google. As an isolated link building strategy this is seriously flawed.

Press releases can be useful as part of a wider strategy and if you use press releases or are planning to use them you should go read the post on SEOmoz, you can give it a thumbs up whilst you’re there 🙂


Tim Grice is the CEO of Branded3, a search marketing agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

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9 Replies to “Press Releases & Link Building”

  1. I have had mixed success with press releases, stating the obvious but the one that worked well for a competitive location based search term got picked up by a lot more sites than just the ones on the distribution list. I think this is the only way it can work, if you write something that is genuinely worth sharing, most press releases seem to be bland promotional material.

    But they should not be the basis of an entire link building strategy. I know some of the big SEO agencies like to use them for their corporate clients and that press releases are just a way to justify the SEO spend.

    In the same way article marketing has become less effective so I imagine will press releases as Google will of course not index multiple versions of the same, generally unnewsworthy / promotional content.

  2. Thanks for the input Simon.

    I found it surprising how many of the big media agencies use press releases as the sole source of acquiring links, but as you say many use it as a bolt on service never giving SEO the attention it deserves. Just posted a comment on Youmoz that backs up what you’re saying, in my opinion anything you’re paying to distribute should be worthy of link bait, if not it’s simply a waste to use this strategy multiple times.

  3. I think the reason some of the big agencies rely solely on press releases is that…

    -The type of clients they work with, for example if you work with THE biggest airline or THE biggest retail store online etc, these sites are so massive, aged, authoritative, building some press releases for a keyword will result in ranking improvements, purely as the sites are so powerful.

    -The client themselves is assured that their chosen SEO company is doing everything by the book / whitehat and they can see a full report of their link building activities (press releases). Also they like seeing the company on news wires and in Google news – looks great from a PR perspective and will please a marketing director who can show this to his/her CEO.

    -You don’t have to have an indepth knowledge of SEO, you just need to know how to submit to these sites, therefore it is cheaper / quicker for the agency.

  4. Hi Tim, I enjoyed your YouMoz post on this.

    Like you I do think press releases have a place in a link building strategy but I think where a lot of companies get it wrong is they use distribution services without a clear idea of what they’re actually trying to achieve. For me there’s 2 reasons to use a (paid) press release service and you need to be clear on which camp your release falls under:

    1) You’ve actually got some proper news which you think might get covered by a journalist and you want as wide a distribution as possible. In this case the press release site itself isn’t where you’re after the links from so I wouldn’t worry about anchor text or trying to cram lots of links into the release and it doesn’t really matter if the release gets indexed or not.

    2) You need large numbers of anchor text links to deep pages (i.e. top products for an ecommerce site). I personally find press release services still work fairly well for this kind of campaign when used alongside other tactics and on less competitive keywords. In this case what you’re paying for is the link from the (or wherever) domain as well as the scrapers who republish from those sites. In these cases I’d get as many links into the release as they allow, pick up permalinks for every site which republishes the release and make sure they get indexed.

    What I don’t understand are companies who repeatedly publish non-stories via the same services, using the same links – that to me is just money down the drain.

  5. I can understand why they do it, I just think the money can be spent more effectively on other activity.

    e.g. Company pays an extra £5k a month of a media agency to do SEO, media agency blast out press releases 3 times a week.

    It would be more beneficial doing one a month and linking it in with their overall marketing strategy, it would provide so much more value for money. We have lost a few accounts to big media agency’s who have claimed they do SEO and the client wants to put all their online activity in one place. They almost always come back to us in the next 12 months because the SEO side of the strategy isn’t working.

    I guess what I am saying is, if your budget is going towards sending out multiple press releases then invest it elsewhere.

  6. Hi John,

    Thanks for you input, appreciate it.

    Your spot on, and you’d be surprised how many companies are doing exactly that, £££’s every month thinking they will eventually rank for their term. Reallocate the budget and have some real SEO work done 🙂

  7. lol.

    We’ve never targeted that term before, even though this blog used to rank for it a year or two ago. We have tested it on PPC and can’t see the value in trying to rank organically, we rely on referrals for new business, and blogging 🙂

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