Search Engine and Social Traffic from Press Releases

    August 27, 2009
    Chris Crum

Press releases are a form of online marketing that we don’t discuss very often. They don’t have the new and exciting appeal of social media or even search engine marketing, but they’ve been around a lot longer and are still working. In fact, they can play right into those other forms.

"Search engine rankings are arguably the most important small business marketing tool available today because it drives Web traffic — and potential prospects — to a small business’ Web site," a PRWeb spokesperson tells WebProNews. "However, because improving search rankings is desirable, achieving results can be both challenging and highly competitive."

PRWeb shared a case study with us, involving a firm that typically sees a boost in search engine rankings and a 50% spike in web traffic after they issue a release. In fact, for one release in particular, the firm saw a spike of 400% on two different Web sites, and the firm doesn’t believe they were from the same users. They also incorporate social media tools like Twitter to extend the "shelf life" of press releases, and say that drives additional traffic.

Peter Figueredo"If you want a release to rank highly in search engines you have to use key words and link those to your Web site," says Peter Figueredo, CEO of NETexponent, the subject of the case study.  "In addition, you need to put them in the release a few of times, for example in the headline, the sub-headline and again in the body. This is different from a traditional news release with a catchy headline where you may not have your key words included." 

"When we included a link to our press releases on Twitter and other social media networks, we saw these both expanded the scope of distribution and the extended the longevity of the announcement," adds Figueredo.  "With other news releases we saw an initial spike in Web site traffic on the first two days and then it dropped off.  With these features we’ve seen increases in traffic up to five days after the news release was issued."

Some have suggested that Twitter could actually replace the press release. I wouldn’t go that far, but it provides a complimentary service for announcing news quickly. The press release just has much broader potential. That hasn’t stopped at least one company from offering a service that provides one line "Twitter-style" press releases.

Muck Rack

When we think of press releases, we often think of distribution, which is a huge part of it definitely. But when using a newswire service like PRWeb, BusinessWire, PRNewswire, etc., don’t forget about your own website as well. Earlier this year I discussed how some companies’ own press centers are holding back some marketing opportunities for them.

Your site should have a section for press releases, and that should be up to date with the latest release when it goes out. You’d be surprised at how often these go without being updated even when a press release has been spotted elsewhere. It is also a good idea to link to any company blogs, Twitter accounts, or any other place where company announcements are made.

Another thing I notice is that many company press pages also do not have RSS feeds set up. Some offer different kinds of press alerts, but otherwise, they are relying on people to frequently check back to see what is happening. Google does this well. They announce a lot of their news via their wide range of blogs (which is a great strategy in itself), and while their press release section doesn’t get nearly as many updates, they offer a feed so that users know when it has been updated. They also provide links to other press-related resources where their latest info can be obtained.

The bottom line is that press releases inform interested parties of what is going on with your business. Despite their name, they’re not just about the press anymore. The web has made them available to anyone. Social media is an extension of this, and opens up the opportunity for sharing. Search engine rankings of course bring releases right to searchers. Make your releases good.

Do you get good boosts in traffic from press releases? Tell us about it.