Over on ClickZ last week, Andrew Edwards asked, “Is SEO dead?” You can read his column and the 42 comments that it generated for yourself. Or, you can scan the infographic below that Aaron Wall of SEO Book published on Oct. 1, 2012, after the “death of SEO” had been previously declared after Google’s Florida update in 2003, Panda update in 2011, and Penguin update in 2012.
Over on the Hubspot blog last year, Dan Lyons asked, “Is It Finally Time to Bid Adieu to the Press Release?” You can read his column and the 21 comments that it generated for yourself. Or, you can read the article I wrote on Sept. 27, 2010, for Search Engine Watch after the “death of the press release” had been previously declared in 2007 and 2010. My response to that meme is entitled, “Rumors of the Press Release’s Death have been Greatly Exaggerated.”
Now, when people declare that SEO as well as press releases are dead, I feel like Miracle Max (Billy Crystal), who says in The Princess Bride (1987), “Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.”
So, let’s examine press release SEO closely and determine if it’s mostly dead or all dead.
Last year, Get City Dealz, a technology company in New Orleans that specializes in assisting merchants in promoting their businesses on its deal platform, SEO-PR, my content marketing agency, which pioneered press release SEO, and Business Wire, the global leader in press release distribution, won two different awards for conducting the same test. We wanted to see if an online video news release, a photo press release, or a release without multimedia would generate better results for three local merchants promoting their best daily deals in New Orleans.
Relatively few press releases include multimedia. The reason is obvious: The costs of creating, optimizing, and distributing a multimedia news release is relatively higher than a regular press release, but the benefits are unknown. So, Get City Dealz, SEO-PR, and Business wire conducted a test in February 2013 to find out if including a video or photo in a press release generated better results than a news release which didn’t include multimedia.
Get City Dealz created three similar press releases. Each one featured a different local merchant that offered a daily deal or local bargain in New Orleans on the recently launched Get City Dealz platform. Then, SEO-PR optimized each of the press releases and distributed them via Business Wire at 6:30 a.m. on successive Saturday mornings in February.
The first release for Jazzy Nola went out on Feb. 2 and included a video. The second release for Orleans Grapevine went out on Feb. 9 and included a photo. The third release for Glam 504 went out on Feb. 23 and didn’t include multimedia. The target audiences for all three press releases were more than 1 million tourists and 5,000 media members who were converging on New Orleans for two major events – “The Big Game” and Mardi Gras.
By April 1, the first press release with a video had 5,059 release views and 230 link clicks, according to Business Wire’s NewsTrak Reports. The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, also had 69 views. The second release with a photo had 3,406 release views and 181 link clicks. The third release with no multimedia had 3,255 release views and 169 link clicks. So, the release with a video had 55.4% more release views and 36.1% more link clicks and the release with a photo had 4.6% more release views and 7.1% more link clicks than the release with no multimedia. Together, the three releases had 11,720 release views and 580 link clicks.
SEO-PR used the Google Analytics URL Builder to tag the links in the three releases. This enabled the team to see that visitors from press releases visited an average of 3.12 pages per visit and spent an average of 2 minutes and 16 seconds for the duration of a visit. It also enabled the team to see that 72% of the visits from the releases were new, compared the site average of 42%.
Pat Hall, CEO of Get City Dealz, said, “We saw an 85% increase in referral traffic in February over January. This came from news sites like Yahoo! Finance and Reuters as well as social media like Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest. We saw a 407% increase in organic search traffic in February over January. Plus, the number of unique visitors to GetCityDealz.com on weekends doubled in February over January.”
I added, “The online video news release for Jazzy Nola featured some unique wine tumblers made in a distinctly New Orleans style with a gold fleur de lis imprinted on the tumbler. The release helped sell out of the order of wine tumblers, which were great for tourists and visitors wandering the French Quarter during ‘The Big Game’ or on the Mardi Gras parade route.”
Laura Sturaitis, Executive Vice President of Media Services & Product Strategy at Business Wire, concluded, “The online video news release also mentioned that Jazzy Nola was promoting their Roger Goodell voodoo dolls. At the press conference before ‘The Big Game’, the media asked Goodell about the voodoo dolls and he joked that he’d read about them. They also sold out in a matter of days.”
In October, our test won the award for the Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign, which was presented at the inaugural U.S. Search Awards during PubCon Las Vegas 2013. Holly Firfer, an Emmy nominated correspondent and anchor for CNN, who was the MC for the U.S. Search Awards, said, “This entry was very highly rated by judges who felt that it was a very worthy winner of this category and wanted to reward this solid campaign with impressive metrics and accurate attribution.”
In November, our test won the 2013 Excellence in New Communications Award in the Visual Media Category of the Corporate Division, which as presented at the prestigious SNCR Excellence in New Communications Awards in Boston. We created, optimized, and distributed press releases about both awards – and included a video, a photo, and an infographic.
So, is press release SEO dead? Well, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of Google’s guidelines. This includes links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.
However, links that are intended to help people find interesting, related content are still okay as long as they don’t pass PageRank. You can prevent PageRank from passing in several ways, such as:
- Adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag
- Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file
So, I’d say that press release SEO is slightly alive. If it was all dead, then there’s usually only one thing you can do: Go through its budget and look for loose change.
Latest posts by Greg Jarboe (see all)
- Recreating Viral Video Success: Squatty Potty - October 20, 2017
- Baby Boomers are the Audience Most Advertisers are Missing on YouTube - September 19, 2017
- KnowledgeVision’s Knovio 3.0 is Not Your Old School Online Video Platform - June 30, 2017
- Top 10 Super Bowl Ads for 2017 Depend on Which Metrics You Use - February 7, 2017
- Only 10% of Viewers Thought Last Year’s Super Bowl Ads Were Funny - January 17, 2017