You’ve tried social media. You’ve written blog posts. You’re generating a modest amount of traffic back to your company’s website, but you want more.
Have You Considered Press Releases?
They’re great for creating backlinks to your site, boosting SEO (though there is debate on that), and generally creating interest in your company.
You Don’t Need Big Guns if You’re Armed Properly
You might think only giant corporations use press releases. While they’re a part of most big companies’ marketing and PR strategies, press releases aren’t restricted to brands with bigger budgets and branding than yours. Many small businesses aren’t using press releases to drive traffic, and therein lies the benefit to you. If your competitors aren’t reading this post, you’re one step ahead of them.
The Shotgun Approach Never Works
Many small business owners falsely assume that a press release will get the attention of major media. That rarely happens, so please adjust your expectations. When you distribute a release online, it gets your name on dozens of news and industry websites. And as you know, the more places your brand name or website are found, the more traffic you can send to your site.
Another option you have for distribution is pitching a journalist or blogger directly. Here’s the secret to that: start building media relationships long before you need them. Six months or more before you issue your release, you should be identifying journalists that cover your industry or competitors, following them on Twitter, and commenting on their articles. Link to them on LinkedIn. Find a reason to connect, without needing anything.
Then when you are ready to pitch them your news, they should have an inkling as to who you are. That saves you from being immediately dragged to the Trash bin in their email. From there, it’s up to you to sell a journalist on why her readers care about your news.
Do Press Releases Make a Big Bang, or Do They Shoot Blanks?
If you dig deep enough, you’ll find a debate on whether Google ranks websites higher when they publish press releases on multiple sites. Matt Cutts, a Search Quality guru at Google, made a comment on a forum that people shouldn’t expect links from a press release to benefit rankings. This single sentence from Cutts, which doesn’t explain why press releases wouldn’t help search results, set off a firestorm, resulting in SEO experts proving Matt Cutts wrong.
My theory is this: if you use what Google deems spammy press release distribution sites, it won’t help your placement in search results. But if you work with reputable press release distribution sites (my go-to is PRWeb), then you may see your company rank higher, as long as you use the keywords you want people searching for to find you in your release.
Let’s say you want to be found when people type in “San Diego marketing firm.” It makes sense that you should use that phrase in the press release, right? Just don’t go overboard and stuff more than two or three keywords in your release.
Also, if you put out not-so-newsy press releases, Google will take notice. I like PRWeb (and curse them at the same time) because they adhere to stringent regulations about what constitutes as news. Don’t even consider putting the word “free” in a release, because it sets off the site’s spam triggers. With press releases being reviewed for quality, you have less to worry about with the better distribution sites.
Tracking the Kill
After you issue a press release, take a look at your analytics to see which sites that published it sent your site the most traffic. Take a look at where you ranked for specific keywords before you put out the press release, then check it afterward to see what movement, if any, there was.
Assessing this information, you can mold your PR strategy to get maximum results. If every release you issue about a business study you conducted gets mega hits, do more of those. If your announcement about relocating your office resulted in yawn-worthy traffic, stick to what your web visitors want more of.
Ready to start writing press releases? DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant can help. For just $2.99, you can get the instant Kindle download and learn how to write a press release, how to distribute it, and how to get journalists to write about your brand. Download now!
Editor’s Note: This was originally published by Susan Payton on Chamber of Commerce.