Press releases have long been a preferred (and now a patented) part of optimizing sites; when done well, they can be a good method for link building on steroids. Larger corporations often use the medium effectively, while it doesn’t occur to many local businesses. Here’s why you should consider it for promoting your local company online.
I’ve written in the past about using press releases for improving PageRank, and as a vehicle to get reporters to promote businesses. Press releases are nearly a throwback to an older time period — they follow a moderately standard format and have been used for over a century to announce new developments to newspapers and other news media.
Perhaps it’s this semiformal nature of the press release that makes many small businesses overlook it when planning ways of promoting themselves. But, press releases are not just for large, national companies.
Press releases are a great source of links (when links are included in them). The websites that host press releases can be worthwhile for link weight, and newspapers or other news sites may sometimes publish the entire release as well. In the past, this near-instant PageRank value conveyed by issuing PR was considered very worthwhile.
But incorporating press releases into your marketing mix includes other compelling reasons that go beyond the value of links you might get. (And, as Google and Bing have become more sophisticated, it could be that press releases are no longer high-quality sources for links, and some sites may be “nofollowing” links in press releases when redisplaying them, negating their link value.)
Press releases are a promotional vehicle that can help you gain more attention for your company. When done effectively, they help you attract attention you might then be able to translate into more customers and sales.
Releases can still function in the classic way, by getting the interest of a local newspaper reporter, who could then choose to do a story about your company for his or her publication. In this day and age, press releases can also get paraphrased or reported on by bloggers, too – I’ve had press releases picked up by specialized industry blogs, bringing attention to my topic from communities interested in the subject matter.
For local businesses, press releases can be an effective source for local citations, particularly since they can get picked up by geo-authority websites such as local news.
Finally, press releases can coordinate well with social media, so using services like Facebook and Twitter to push the PR can help generate more overall buzz about your business.
Tips For Using Press Releases For Local Online Marketing:
- Be sure to cover the basics — specify the who, what, where, why and when.
- Naturally, mention the city and other locality names for the “where” to target your local market, and to help develop relevancy in local search relevancy algorithms. Local businesses should include their full street address and phone number near the end of the press release to get any possible citation value from it.
- Tell a story with each press release! Providing a human interest narrative can help get your publicity distributed. Go beyond a terse listing of the facts; write with a wider audience in mind to better appeal to those who might be inclined to push mentions out via their social media accounts.
- Perform keyword research and include the local phrase combinations that best match what more consumers would be searching for when seeking the topics you’re writing about.
- There are many press release sites/services out there. Some free PR sites can be worthwhile, but some of the paid options have advantages as well. Will the release be permanent? Are links allowed? Will it get distribution through news search or major news sites?
- Include images optimized for local search, for press release distribution services that allow it. Some of them allow embedding a video, which is also helpful.
- Including an optimized PDF version of the press release can also help — it can result in multiple pages linking to your site versus one release, and PDFs sometimes get copied and re-hosted elsewhere, resulting in more link options.
- Include a press releases section on your website, and archive copies of your PR in there. This is yet another valuable keyword content source for your own site.
- Include a few links to your site in your press release. You could also include links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts instead of a couple of the links to your site.
- Promote the press release itself once it’s issued, by linking to it, mentioning it in your own social media accounts and sending it directly to local reporters and hyperlocal bloggers in your area. Just exercise due diligence beforehand to be sure you’re sending it only to people who might be interested in it. A press release about a cool new hamburger is not going to be of interest to reporters who only cover city council politics or bloggers who only focus on the local music scene.
- Here’s a tip borrowed from Matt McGee: Only issue a release when you have something newsworthy to report — don’t waste journalists’ time. Since journalists are not the only consumers of press releases any more, let’s take this a step further and avoid issuing press releases that wouldn’t interest your target audiences of consumers, journalists and bloggers.
- Avoid PR fatigue in the public by not issuing releases too often. Also, use different distribution services over time to diversify where your releases are appearing.
Using these techniques can help you in promoting your local business. However, the best press releases are planned with sophistication, savviness and good writing. It can take experience to do a good job of it. If you haven’t done it before, it can be helpful to hire a professional to do it on your behalf.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.