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Do news releases REALLY help with SEO?


In my perusing of Linked last week, I came across this post from Nancy Shenker, CEO of the ONSwitch.

In the post, Nancy makes a claim we’ve all heard thousands of times:

News releases are good for SEO and “Google Cred.”

Except, every time I hear that, I want to call BS.


Now, I’m not hear to get into a discussion about the ins and outs of technical SEO mechanisms.

I’m sure news releases–when properly “optimized”–do generate “traffic” to corporate web sites. I’m sure it can and does happen every day.

But here’s my question: Is it MEANINGFUL traffic?

And here’s my next question: Why does it matter?

And here’s one more: How does it move the needle in the PR and communications realm in terms or awareness or brand-building?

If you’re like me, you can’t really answer any of those questions well.

So, I ask again: Do garden-variety news releases really help with SEO?

The answer: Yes (technically), and no (I’ll explain).

You see, I think it’s high time we give up on this long-standing myth.

Here’s my reasoning:

News releases aren’t driving the *right* traffic (in most cases)

Again, I’m not arguing that news releases can’t drive traffic to your site. I’m sure many people have examples they could share. What I’m saying is this: Is that traffic meaningful? In other words, who are the people clicking through to your site, and what are they doing once they get there? In other words, are your customers really performing keyword searches, which lead them to your news release, which lead them to your web site, which lead them to eventually purchase something. Isn’t that what we want, ideally?

News releases are written for media–not customers

I mean, I hate to state the obvious, but aren’t press releases written for, you know, the press? I know brands share them on social channels. I know they share them in e-newsletters from time to time. But, if you’re looking at writing a press release, the media is usually your audience. The release is just a tool to convince media to write a meaningful story about your organization, its products, its mission, etc. etc. etc. So again, what kind of meaningful traffic are those releases driving if they’re aimed at the media in the first place?

Instead, put your resources to better use when it comes to SEO

Instead of relying on news releases to drive SEO value, why not put more time and energy into developing content that actually has a chance at driving true SEO value? Like a blog post on a niche topic that your customers actually care about in your industry? Wouldn’t that make more sense? Wouldn’t that drive the kind of traffic you want (customers who care about certain topics vs. random people clicking on a news release) within the actual marketing funnel?




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