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Can the SEO-PR Love Affair Survive After Panda & Penguin?

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seo-pr-love-affairThe SEO industry has been in bed with press releases since online links and keywords were born. It was more than dating. It was a hardcore relationship that was sometimes viewed as abusive by the search engines.

Some called it a match made in heaven; SEO and press releases went together like peanut butter and jelly.

And then a scandal erupted.

Google’s latest Penguin and Panda algorithm updates hit, turning the online marketing world upside down...or maybe right side up. Gone are the days of SEO “press release” strategies of write it, optimize it, distribute it and take an SEO power nap.

SEO + PR = Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

“We distributed press releases and picked up thousands of backlinks,” said one Internet marketing consultant.

Cool, but what is the big picture? Are we looking at quantity or quality? Google is asking the same thing and the answer is quality, relevant, newsworthy content.

“The big danger to issuing SEO press releases post-Panda/Penguin is that today it matters where your links and press releases end up. If you generate links from 'bad neighborhoods on the Internet' you can end up with the SEO equivalent of a black eye,” said Mickie Kennedy, founder and president of eReleases.com. “That's why I say focus on the press release for what it was intended: the media.”

So if SEO and PR want to continue having a healthy relationship, what’s an online marketer to do? The optimized press release is still a good candidate for online marketing, but the peace, love, and SEO days are over on Google.

Technically, Google is the media in this case, but this doesn't mean press releases won’t work on the search giant. There still is an SEO value proposition and component to press release distribution that deliver newsworthy stories to targeted media and users in a well-written fashion.

SEO Press Release Tips

  • Stick to higher end distribution services that issue the press releases over a true newswire such as Marketwire, PRWeb, PRnewswire, BusinessWire, e-Releases and social PR hybrid services such as PitchEngine.
  • Work with content partners and sites Google considers to be good neighbors.
  • Remember the traditional press release has the main purpose of garnering the attention of a journalist from a bona fide media outlet that can tell your newsworthy story to his or her audience.
  • Write for the journalist, the search engines, the customer, the prospect and the social media news networks. This might require several versions of the same press release.

One way to look at it is like this: The online media outlets are the search engines and social networks. If you look at these channels as media outlets, the websites or users are the potential writers or editors. You want the most influential media to cover your news within that search engine or social channel.

The New Media Outlets

  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Bing
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn

Is there hope for the over-used and abused press release when it comes to an online marketing strategy? Yes, professional online marketers share new press release SEO strategies that are actually not so new, according to SEO expert Joe Laratro.

Google’s New Rules and SEO for PR Old Rules

Press releases for SEO have always had a set of best practices for search marketing, but with Google’s new updates it is more important than ever to follow the rule book and avoid the possibility of Google’s duplicate content issues.

Press Release Distribution Tips

Avoid duplicate content by having multiple versions of a press release.

  1. Wire version
  2. Website blog version
  3. Social media version

Each version should be at least 20-30 percent different from each other and ideally contain different links.

Link Building with Press Releases

  • Don’t go crazy with 15 links. Include one or two links in the wire version, and different links in the blog/web versions.
  • Use different distribution services. Mix it up so the content is coming from different sources - not always the same.
  • “Instead of just using exact match anchor links, better to diversify anchor text by using branded and non branded keywords,” says Peter Leifer President and CEO of PrimeView Interactive marketing agency.

PR’s New Lover: Google Authorship

Laratro also pointed to Google’s authorship tag as a press release strategy. TechCrunch’s Rip Emerson said it like this:

There are a whole mess of reasons why Google Authorship is important. For starters, it lets those who create the web’s content (author's note: this could mean press release content) claim that content by allowing them to add their name and image next to the byline of their articles, blogs, (press releases) etc. That content stands out in the search results.

SEO and Press Releases - Still a Happy Couple

Press releases are a key vehicle for link building strategies for many companies, noted Sharon Virtue, SEM Strategy Director of Marketwire.

“While Penguin doesn’t change that, online marketers need to be more mindful of the quantity and quality of links inserted into a press release,” Virtue said.

To avoid getting caught in the algorithm, here’s a few quick tips for the post-Penguin world of creating press releases:

  • Fewer and more quality links; meaning relevant to the subject of the release, from authoritative sources.
  • Avoid using the corporate boilerplate as a means to systematically insert several links, always using the same anchor text.
  • Have no more than one link to the same URL.
  • Avoid using the same anchor text more than once in any release.

Well, you could say that the relationship between SEO and press releases is in a healthy state of rehab. With Google’s blessing, the relationship will continue to work.

Catch up with Lisa Buyer at SES San Francisco on the panel Social Media that Won’t Break the Bank.


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