Until July 2013, press releases were a great tactic for building high quality links to your website.
And the process was simple. Write a press release that includes links to your website, pay a press release distribution service like PRWeb, and then watch your search engine rankings improve as more and more legitimate websites posted the press release with links to your site.
Of course, that all changed in July 2013 when Google announced the death of press releases for search engine optimization (SEO).
But was it really the end of press releases as an SEO tactic? No, and in this case study I’ll prove there is still a lot of power in press releases (if you know how to use them correctly).
What Changed in July 2013?
In July 2013, Google announced they would now consider links in press releases as “paid links” and encouraged distribution services to use “nofollow” links in the releases. This change makes sense since businesses were paying press release distribution sites in order to get high quality links to their websites.
In case you’re not aware, Google does not count paid links or “no follow” links in their ranking algorithm. Those types of links are ignored by the algorithm. That means all of the links you get from the press release would not directly improve your search engine rankings.
Hence, the resounding cry that press releases were dead for SEO.
While it’s true the links do not directly improve your rankings, there is another powerful SEO benefit of press releases.
The Key Benefit is Citations
A citation is a mention of your NAP (business Name, Address, and Phone number) on another website. For example, if your business is listed in Yelp, then your profile on Yelp is a citation because it lists your NAP.
When drafting a press release, if you include your business NAP in the byline of the release, then when your release is published across the internet, each published page is a new citation for your business. You can see an example below:
That means you could issue one press releases and within a day or two have dozens or even hundreds of new citations.
That sounds great, but why are citations important?
Citations Are Critical For Local Rankings
One of the biggest factors in ranking high in the local “map” results is the quantity and quality of your citations. Sure, you can create accounts on business directories and build up a nice foundation of citations, but so can your competitors.
To gain a competitive advantage, you can use press releases to rank higher in the local results. To prove this works, let’s look at a case study…
How Our Client Jumped from #20 to #1
One of our dentist clients was stuck around #20 in the local “map” results.
We had already completed our website tune-up and set up all the relevant business directories, but the rankings would not improve beyond #20 for his top priority keyword, “Savannah dentist.” At this point we knew we had to take it to the next level to overtake the competitors ranking on the first page of Google.
Here’s what we did…
Over a 4-month period, we issued 4 press releases for our client. Of course, in the press release we included links to our client’s website, but as you know those links were “nofollow” so they did not directly help for SEO. The power was in the citations, or the mentions of our client’s business name, address, and phone number.
As more and more websites published the press releases, our client began to jump up in the Google local rankings. Eventually he was #1 on the first page of Google in the local results for his primary keyword.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the citations helped our client rank in the local “map” results on the first page of Google. When Google determines the searcher is looking for a local business, then often Google displays a map with local businesses listed below.
To rank high in these local search results, you must have citations, and that’s one of the reasons you should consider using press releases as part of your Local SEO strategy.
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