Is a Press Release a Good Idea for a Small Business

If you don’t know what a Press Release can do for your traffic online and search engine popularity, you’ll find this post very enlightening.

If you are already familiar with the use of press releases in online promotion, you probably know they became widely overused as an SEO strategy in recent years and are not as powerful as they once were. But don’t overlook them entirely. Press releases are still an awesome tool that too many small businesses overlook entirely.

Press Release

What is a Press Release?

Traditionally, a press release is a written news story with a headline, dateline, media contact information, etc. You’ve probably read many press releases online not realizing they were press releases. You can see an example of a press release I published above.

Press releases have been around since the early 1900’s as a way to get noteworthy news to journalists and news agencies. It was a way that PR agents garnered publicity for their clients.

Old Press ReleaseThe internet has changed the landscape for press releases. You don’t need to know someone at a news agency to get a press release distributed. And you don’t need a public relations professional to submit your press release.

All you need to do is use a distribution service like PRweb to write and submit your own press release. With the ease of submitting press releases in the internet age, it obviously muddies the waters and makes it difficult to have your release stand out in the crowd.

 

Why Submit A Press Release?

Why submit a press release? In a word – Publicity. We all want more of it to grow our business. Submitting a press release is one way to attract attention to your business or organization.

Large corporations have PR departments on staff to manage their reputation and promote the company. Because big companies have so much popularity, their news releases will often be immediately reviewed by major news outlets. On the other hand, small businesses don’t have a PR department or the knowledge of how and why to submit a press release. Plus, press releases from relatively unknown press releases won’t get the same attention as a press release of a Fortune 500 company. Don’t let this hold you back though.

Here are a few of the top reasons to submit press releases if you are a small business:

  • Visitors to your website – Getting your press release distributed on major news-wire sites will get your story seen. You can include links and your contact information in your news release so people will visit your website or contact you.
  • Exposure to news agencies and journalists – News outlets and journalists search press releases regularly to find stories for TV, radio and the web. If your story is a good fit, it may get picked up for a story and you’ll get even more exposure.
  • Incoming links to your website – If you know anything about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you know links pointing to your website are an important aspect of increasing your site’s popularity and rankings. When you submit a press release, you’ll get links to your site from many reputable sites where your press release is published.

Because of the abuse of press releases for SEO purposes, Google has stated the SEO effect of links in press releases has been lowered. But because of the other benefits of press releases, this isn’t a reason to not publish them at all. And if you write high quality news releases and don’t just try to stuff them with keywords unnaturally, you will reap the benefits. See my results below…

 

What To Expect From A Press Release – My Experience

My Statistics for Press ReleaseBecause of the massive number of press releases seen every day, it’s doubtful that you will get featured in a major news outlet like local TV news or a newspaper article. If your news is compelling and the right journalist stumbles upon it, there is always a chance that this will happen. Basically, there is huge potential upside with a press release and no downside.

I submitted a press release recently (in October 2013) through PRWeb.com and after 2 weeks, here are some of the statistics:

  • 1,000 reads of my press release – 900 came in the first day
  • Delivered to 4,700+ media outlets
  • Release picked up by 114 websites
  • Hundreds of visitors to my site – see below

I get some decent referral traffic from other sites where I have links. It’s nothing huge right now but much more than most small businesses since I do all my promotion online. The press release was the highest traffic referrer for me in the month when it was submitted and it continues to refer traffic in the following month. See my screenshot below from the month when the release was submitted. This was only 2 weeks after the press release was submitted.

Press Release Referral Stats

 

Search Engine Benefits of Press Releases

Here’s what happens when you submit a press release:

The press release service (in my case, PRWeb.com) will host your press release on their site and many news websites will link back to the original press release page and boost that page’s ranking. Since your site has links on the original press release page, the expectation is that your site will reap the SEO benefit.

Press Release Links

When search engine optimization experts found out years ago that links in press releases had a huge effect on search engine rankings, it didn’t take long for them to abuse the process. They would do this by creating tons of low-quality press releases and stuffing keyword-rich links in them to manipulate search engine rankings of their own sites.

Search engines like Google have stated around 2012-2013 that press release links are now scrutinized and given less value or no value. It’s important to listen to what Google says but you can never really never be sure until you test it for yourself. Google’s algorithms are complex and always changing. The key is do what is natural and creating a press release when your company has news is a natural thing to do.

For a small business website with little popularity and few incoming links, the publicity and links generated by a single press release can be significant and produce a noticeable effect on search engine rankings. For large organizations who already have huge authority and publicity, press releases are probably used more for announcements and managing reputation but not for the search engine benefits.

The best way to use press releases is to submit real news and include links to your website . Write your press release as if you are writing it in the early 1900s before search engines existed. Get the news out to journalists, news websites, and other readers. And definitely include 1-2 relevant links back to your site. It can’t hurt your website’s rankings and probably will help.

 

Rankings from My Press Release

With all the links going to the original press release page from new sites, the press release pages usually ranks very well in search engines for a period of weeks or months.

In my case, the title of the release I’m using as an example is “Cutting Edge Web Design Company, Web Eminence, Caps Client Base at 200…

At the time of writing this post, the search “Cutting Edge Web Design Company” in Google shows my press release in the 3rd spot after 2 weeks. Sure, it’s not a super-competitive, high-volume keyword but it did outrank 123,000,000 results as you can see below. This shows you that a press release can rank well and if you optimize it for certain keywords, you can get some great exposure.

Rankings for Press Release

Let’s say you are a new cleaning service in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you published a press release with “Cleaning Service in Grand Rapids…” as the beginning of the press release title, there’s a good chance that your press release could rank well for people searching for “cleaning service Grand Rapids”.

It’s important to note that press releases are timely and Google know this. So press releases will typically rank well when they are fresh and new, but over time they will fade away in the rankings. A few months of exposure may be all a new business needs to gain local popularity and some new customers to kick-start their business.

 

How Often Should a Small Business Submit a Press Release

Press Release How OftenThe more press releases you submit, the more publicity and traffic you will receive. But since most small businesses are on tight budget and have probably never submitted a press release, my suggestion is to keep things simple. Just make it a goal to submit your first press releases. I believe the largest benefit comes from your first press release.

I recommend small businesses to submit 3-4 releases per year or as often as they have news and their marketing budget allows. Even 1-2 per year would probably be sufficient to create ongoing benefits for your website and small business.

 

My Updated Stats

I posted this press release in October 2013 and the stats I reference in this post were after 2 weeks of publishing. I’ll post updated stats here as I get them. If you’re reading this in the future and curious about updated stats, post a comment below and I’ll give an update.

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