Links in Press Releases Don't Help Your SEO? This Experiment Proved They Do
Short version: We created a press release containing a unique anchor text and linked it to Matt Cutts' blog. We submitted the press release and within 3 days the site ranked in Google for that unique anchor text, proving that for better or worse, links in press releases do have direct SEO benefit.
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Hmm, really? We were a touch dubious and wanted to test this claim.
A Quick Background on Press Releases
The 3 main reasons for this are:
- Disseminating information - Press releases can be used to announce great new products or interesting stories to the press - their original intended use.
- Brand exposure - People see your companies name and associate it with a certain product, or in a positive light.
And last but not least…
- Links! - Text links can be embedded in a press release with any anchor text and the link can be pointed to any page. Because of the wide distribution of press releases on some portals this can result in lots of links very quickly.
So we wanted to test if a press release can have direct SEO benefit to a site it links to. That is without the PR being organically picked up by a journalist and quoted in a real story.
- We drafted a press release (see it here) – ironically on the very topic of press releases not working any more.
- We included a made-up word in the PR - "sreppleasers" (an anagram of "press release"), and linked it to Matt Cutts' blog.
- The press release was published on 12th Jan. 3 days later this happened...
The anchor text "sreppleasers" has been "passed" to the target URL, making it rank for that made-up word. Why did we use Cutts' site? I just thought it might be funny really.
I'll be the first to admit the test press release was no masterpiece and doesn't even warrant a release in the first place, but that's kind of the point. An unremarkable press release that adds nothing to the story is still having direct SEO benefit to the target site – in this case, Matt Cutts' blog – simply down to the distribution and scraping that has occurred. In fact if we had created a really great press release we'd have run the risk of it getting picked up for real (i.e manually) which could have voided the test.
Googling a non-interesting quote from the release you can see it's on about 43 different pages already either due to the PR networks distribution or scraper sites that have picked it up.
Now I'm not saying this is a good thing and you should run off to pollute the word with poor press releases just for the raw SEO juice you can gain, but it proves that there is some direct SEO benefit to be had for those that want it. It also means you probably take what Google say with a pinch of salt sometimes.
To be fair to Cutts, he did only say he wouldn't expect links from press releases to benefit a site, not that they definitely wouldn't, so this is probably a work in progress for his spam team but at least shows us where Google is likely headed in the future.
So, what about you? Will you carry on using press releases for their raw SEO power and ability to control anchor text?