Many companies, especially PR firms and uninformed SEO companies will go on and on about how PR is one of the building blocks and foundations of SEO. Although PR can be extremely helpful for SEO, you should not rely solely on it and you should also know how to use it. PR can be your best friend because it builds your brand, sends you customers and builds trust for your site; but PR can also cause damage and may not be building the links you want or need. Here are 5 things to remember if you are using PR or your SEO firm is using PR for building backlinks and SEO.
1. Newswires. Newswires are awesome. I love them and use them. I do not however include them in my SEO plans. I use them for PR and if the site has enough solid backlinks to where a wire won’t cause damage, I will include them. With certain newswires, you have an upgrade to become SEO friendly. Usually that just means you are guaranteed a backlink from the wire’s site. Although the links appear on numerous other sites, if you check the source code you may find that numerous major sites, especially the authoritative ones have all either no followed your links, given the backlink to the newsire’s url with a redirect to your site, or just removed the links all together. The SEO upgrades with certain wires or SEO friendly features which come for free, at one point may have been beneficial for SEO; now, especially after farmer, they can cause damage and are more of a buzzword to sell their wire instead of an actual SEO benefit. You could essentially be seen by the search engines as buying a guaranteed link from the wire site and getting spam links from the others who just take the article from the feed and don’t write an actual one for you with a legit backlink.
2. Always define the terms for giveaways. If part of your PR strategy is giveaways for reviews, make sure you define the terms of the giveaway. You don’t want to tell the site or Blog owner what they can or cannot do with the content, but you can request that there is a backlink and give them a list of keywords and landing pages or ask to see the post and pick the link before the post goes live. This way you can guarantee you’ll get the link and it will be off of the keywords you want or need and it lands on the pages you want them to land on.
3. Make sure it isn’t mass article marketing. If your press release is more of an article or a Matte Release, sending a pre-written article ready for publishing, make sure that you know certain search engines frown on article marketing for backlinks and massive distribution of duplicate articles. One thing I have come across on numerous newswires and with PR lists is that the article gets published through a feed on a ton of major sites. In my opinion, this can look just like submitting an unspun article to a ton of article directories. It used to work great, then the engines got smarter and you can potentially be penalized for this.
4. Mapping of articles and guaranteed delivery. Just like it can appear that you are article marketing, the search engines can map out the sites picking up stories from a feed easily. Not only can they map this, but the money you spent on the release can work against you if they find the patterns of backlinks and sites, see the words you are trying to optimize for and then see your actual linking structure for those pages. Don’t forget, the original use of a link in a press release is to source information or to show an example, not build a backlink. Because the distribution can potentially be easily mapped, you do risk penalizations, being placed on the search engines radar as grey or black hat, or even worse, loose certain rankings because you are not building legit links.
5. Change it for your site. The last tip I’ll remind you of is to change the version for your site when you put it on your site. Don’t keep the same exact release you submitted to everyone else. Give yourself a unique version with unique copy. On your site’s version, include an internal link as a source so that people who actually want to write about the release will know what types of words to link from and where to send the link to.
There are a ton of other things to remember with PR and SEO like educating your firm or PR person and knowing how to get more do follow links from your releases, but I’ll save that or another post. PR can be great for SEO as well as hurt your SEO. Make sure you think about each aspect of SEO and you evaluate your PR plan. Compare your PR plan to your SEO plan so that you can ensure the two will work with each other and not against each other. PR can be a great compliment to your SEO, you just have to make sure that you are using it correctly.