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Guest post: The Myth Of Press Release Syndication: Kelvin Newman, SiteVisibility

FX: Fanfare

This the very first Guest Post on In Front Of Your Nose. And I’m delighted to welcome Kelvin Newman from SiteVisibility for this auspicious debut with his take on The Myth Of Press Release Syndication. His views on the subject are highly pertinent – not least because he knows what he is talking about when it comes to SEO – and the PR world on the whole has a very distorted view of what they can, could or should do with regard to press releases and search.

Kelvin is Creative Director at SiteVisibility (without question, one of the top SEO firms in the UK), as well as editor and presenter of  iTunes most popular marketing podcast (again, along with a sub to Econsultancy, people could save themselves a lot of pain and heartache by simply listening to this every week).

Anyway. I’ll shut up. Kelvin, take it away….
Guest post: The Myth Of Press Release Syndication: Kelvin Newman, SiteVisibility

“We all understand that Google’s algorithm is trying to mimic the real world. Google’s reliance on links to determine authority is based on what happens offline. If a trusted person or media outlet recommends a product, the more I trust the recommendation. And the more likely I am to believe them. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So why do so many people believe that Press Release Syndication services (who will shill for anyone who hands over the cash) are going to be good for your rankings?

In my opinion, rather than just being a benign distraction for the naive, I’m genuinely concerned that huge swathes of the PR industry think that in order to ‘get’ SEO they just have to start adding a few keywords into their press releases, bung them on a wire. And their clients will  automatically shoot up the rankings.

The links that have the most impact are those that are hardest to achieve; genuine editorial mentions on relevant pages of sites with huge trust. Press release syndication will never enable you to do that. All it does is get you a link from a website which no real person ever visits. There are no real editorial standards being used. So the chances are even higher that really low quality spammy sites are being linked from and tainting your clients by association.

Some people occasionally justify this process on the basis it might help a website get at least some links and coverage from journalists who subscribe to the release wire service concerned. Personally, I can’t see it. When I used to work on Zoo and Arena,  journalists were swamped with releases by email. I doubt they’re going to go out of their way to sign up to get more.

Some services even charge you more to get some shiny social media buttons on your release. What a complete waste of money. I can count on one hand the number of times a press release has been shared in my social networks. And in those cases, it was only because what was contained in the release was hugely news worthy. The latest “me too” product launch or made up survey is never going to get shared socially.

And do you think Google, with their sweat shops of PHDs, haven’t twigged that these websites will link to anyone who pays? It’s not a huge leap to assume that they might have tuned out any minor value that these websites might have had years ago.

So why do people still think it works? Well, it’s easier than actually wrapping your head around how link building really works. It’s a small nod to SEO without actually having to drastically change approach.

However, I can’t be completely against the technique.  It can be a great way to open up communication between whoever is responsible for PR and SEO. It shows that on both sides of the table, we’re starting to understanding that we’ll get better results if we work together.

Of course, it is beautifully ironic that in the area where you most frequently see collaboration between PR and SEO currently, the outcomes hardly justify the effort. The real value of PR and SEO working in unison is in creating stories and content that appeal to the people who have the power to link to – and influence – a site’s reputation in a positive way.  This is where PRs and SEOs should be concentrating their efforts.

In summary, my attitude is if the news release has already been written, it’s mad not to try to eek out a bit of SEO value by publishing it on a wire. It’s not going to do any harm. But anyone who thinks press release syndication is an important link building strategy needs their head testing.”

What do you think?

Comment below like your life depends upon it.

6 replies on “Guest post: The Myth Of Press Release Syndication: Kelvin Newman, SiteVisibility”

I agree with all of this – with one exception. In my experience, the ones turning to online press release wires in the greatest numbers are not PRs, but web design agencies/online marketing agencies/other digital disciplines etc. who are suddenly offering “online PR” services. Hurrumph.

Mind you, this is anecdotal rather than statistical. It would be interesting to see some stats on this.

I think the SEO part is not really focused on linkbuilding (and PageRank) but more about just having more indexed pages about the company/product in search engines. A lot of companies have a bad PageRank and use wires (that have a good PageRank) to get their message up higher in the results. That part really works, but it’s a temporary win.

Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this knowledge. I felt intuitively this was a boneheaded tactic, but I didn’t have enough evidence to defend my hunch. I get so many people asking about this and now I have some clear guidance. More proof that there is no magic bullet for generating media awareness on or off-line.

I totally agree, also the duplicate content comes in to play. I believe in placing press releases on your own site instead of syndicating it and giving some other site the credit for the content.

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