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February 25, 2015
There was a time when creating electronic press release that were search-engine optimized with a bunch of key words was a great way to get your brand to appear at the top of search engine results. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case, for a number of reasons we will discuss. But don't get discouraged. As it turns out, well written press releases are still one of the best and most cost effective ways to build brand awareness and effectively tell your brand story--and they result in good search engine placement.
First, let's discuss why the old method of loading your press releases with key words no longer are great generators of front-page search results. In the early days, when search engines were beginning to become extremely popular and useful, savvy marketers and PR professionals figured out techniques for search-engine optimizing their communications. They primarily did this by inserting lots of key words into their communications. The problem was that while key words could result in higher search engine placement, there was no way to control whether or not the content of these key word-laden materials was of any real value. The reality was that much of this search engine optimized material that made it to the top of search engine results was poorly written junk.
Still, companies were anxious to get listed at the top of search engine results, because they would drive more traffic to their website. That's why a plethora of SEO companies were launched. They used SEO techniques to generate material with a lot of key words that search engines would respond to. Companies would pay these firms well, because they achieved front-page search engine results.
When the search engine companies realized that their search results drove people to a lot of amateurishly written and poor content rather than quality websites, they started to wise up. After all, who was going to continue using a search engine that provided links to a lot of worthless junk information that was only on page one because someone embedded a whole bunch of key words into the content?
Google was one of the first to find a way to keep this useless junk information off the top pages of search results. In 2013, they came up with a technique called Panda. Panda was an algorithm that could identify and remove information that was cluttered with key words simply for purposes of SEO. Google then took it a step further, by using rules that pushed quality content to the top of search engine results. Using Panda, Google was able to better ensure that its search engine found and listed useful information. This, in turn, enhanced the Google brand.
What do we mean by the term "quality content?" We're referring to content that is attractive because it is well-written, content-rich and useful--in short, information that people actually wanted to read.
Which brings us to the value of electronic press releases. Panda likes the mentioning of brands in content as well as well written content. That's because Panda assumes that if brands are mentioned, the content will have a higher probability of being useful and credible. Press releases, by their nature, typically provide high-quality information that is well written, credible and mentions the brand quite a bit. Which means that electronic distribution of press releases will result in good SEO, even if that isn't the primary reason for distributing it.
Let's say it another way, just to make sure we're clear: Press release distribution is one of the best ways to gain SEO, as long as the press release is well written, informative and mentions the brand often but not frivolously. You don't even need to use the brand name as a link. Just include it in the content. There is no need, and in fact it is detrimental, to clutter your press release with key words that are there only to gain SEO. This will backfire.
Our advice? If you stick to the basic rules of good press release writing, you will be pleased at the SEO results, and you may wind up with good editorial coverage as well.