Are Press Releases Still a Successful SEO Strategy?

At this point, it's well-documented that search engine optimization and content marketing go hand in hand. However, certain types of content are more effective than others at driving traffic to a product landing page.

Press releases are often considered an important part of a robust content marketing strategy. But do they still stand up in 2014?

SEO has become more complex in the past few years with the constant evolution of Google's algorithms. The search engine giant has made it more difficult for businesses to skirt its rules and will penalize offending websitesLow-quality links or spammy content can cause Google to drop a site down in the rankings, Business 2 Community stated.

SEO needs to be diverse to succeed, and this means utilizing multiple forms of online marketing to drive traffic to your website. Employing more Internet advertising channels can also spread SEO risk around instead of containing it all in one place. Relying too heavily on one channel can be problematic if you don't adhere to Google's rules.

One way to diversify SEO and increase website traffic is through press releases because they can generate excitement about new offerings. While these can result in good links, most SEO professionals do not recommend using press releases only for these purposes.

Are there drawbacks to press releases?

Press Release can benefit SEO

The benefits of press releases are mostly indirect, according to several SEO experts interviewed by Authority Labs. Appearing in the news section of Google can drive more organic traffic to your website and generate buzz.

However, press releases contain some risk as well. It's important to only use this tactic when you have something newsworthy to say. Small businesses often fall into the trap of writing a press release every time anything normal happens, and this can be detrimental in the long run and undermine credibility.

"Most of my experiences with press releases for search have been with SMBs, and, unfortunately, what that often means is people becoming over-reliant on blasting out every tiny announcement they have and calling it 'news,'" said Pete Meyers, marketing scientist at Moz.

"I think it's pretty clear at this point that Google frowns on that practice. At best, it's a problem of diminishing returns. Having 500 links from (invented to protect the innocent) isn't really going to accomplish more than having five links from a site like that, even if those links are never penalized."

If you do have something newsworthy to say, you can benefit if other people link back to your press release. Additionally, brand new businesses can use press releases exclusively for SEO, but this approach should not be taken for well-established companies with a strong Internet presence.

In general, press releases should not be seen as an SEO strategy, but rather an online marketing strategy. Some experts believe SEO is really becoming a marketing strategy anyway.

It's important to lead with valuable content: If you don't have anything new to say, you shouldn't be writing press releases. In fact, this tactic often fails because businesses aren't presenting an interesting piece of news or it isn't sent through the right channels.

The bottom line

Press releases can be effective at driving genuine traffic to your website, often from visitors who may not have encounters your brand otherwise. However, it's important to use this tactic only to express newsworthy content.

In addition, press releases should be viewed as one element in a larger content marketing and SEO strategy. You can't accomplish all your SEO goals with one strategy, and Conversion Rate Optimization is still an important consideration.