Press releases are an excellent way for brands to inform the public about exciting company news. But they don’t have a direct effort on SEO. However, having a PR backlink strategy is still key to building a robust online presence. There are ways that PR backlinks can turn into referral traffic down the line.
You wouldn’t be wrong if you thought PR backlinks don’t do anything for SEO. PR backlinks don’t have a direct effect on search engine rankings.
So why are we here?
We’re here to talk about how brands can turn SEO-neutral PR backlinks into a vital part of a linkbuilding strategy.
Modern digital press releases contain nofollow links only, meaning that there is no SEO benefit for them being there. In PR content, backlinks are there to boost your credibility. It shows that your brand is authentic, the news story is accurate, and the domain is not a fraud.
Plus, when used correctly, PR backlinks can give additional press coverage in other high authority online publications that will provide your backlinks that you may not have received otherwise.
Getting PR Backlinks: Everything You Need to Know
There are two kinds of PR backlinks in this world: white hat PR and black hat PR. White hat PR backlinks are backlinks that were earned within the guidelines set by Google.
Black hat PR backlinks, on the other hand, are spammy attempts at making a fake business seem real or just an unethical way of “earning” high authority backlinks.
This guide contains everything you need to know about PR backlinks, including how they work and how to get them. If you’re beginning to create a solid linkbuilding strategy or if you need to update your backlink knowledge, you are in the right place.
Let’s start super basic before taking a deep dive into all the details:
What Are PR Backlinks?
A PR backlink is any link from a media news outlet’s website. They are an essential part of a digital PR strategy because it shows search engines that the content that your business publishes online is trustworthy and comes from a reputable source. PR backlinks are one of the key things to get when getting B2B SEO services.
When executed properly, news outlets and press release publications can be the source of powerful backlinks.
Websites of this nature have high domain authority, so earning valuable PR backlinks in their publications is a big deal for SEO. Simply being mentioned on their website tells Google that your brand is a trusted source of information and raises your domain authority in return.
While Google has not shared its specific rubric for rating domain authority, there are many online tools and resources that help domain owners understand how authoritative and trustworthy their website is according to what we know about Google’s algorithm.
No one can definitively say what the effect of backlinks is on domain authority. But we all know how important it is to have a strong linkbuilding strategy for increasing organic traffic to our websites and proving to search engines that our organizations are legitimate.
White Hat PR vs. Black Hat PR
Backlinks are a core fundamental of practicing strategic SEO. Search engines such as Google use backlinks as a proxy for measuring authority, one of three key components (known as E.A.T.) to their ranking algorithm: expertise, authority, and trust. The more knowledgeable, trusted, and reputable a domain is, the higher it will appear in relevant search results.
These high authority domains will naturally have a larger number of websites that link back to them because of the value their website offers their customers. Becoming an authoritative website goes alongside executing an effective SEO strategy.
Before Google updated its algorithm to verify the authoritativeness of a particular website, many companies used unethical methods of stuffing articles with anchored keyword backlinks or buying backlinks without earning them. And back then, anyone could publish a press release anywhere online without going through the proper vetting process and using it as an advertising platform instead of a news distribution channel.
The Birth of nofollow
As you can imagine, this did not go well. The internet was still the wild west, and people started writing anything and calling it a press release. However, Google took notice when people started abusing newswires and online publications to generate backlinks to boost their search engine ranking.
As a result, the search engine began penalizing domains. If they exploited press release websites to grow their backlink profile and turn reputable news websites into link farms, their shape was downgraded.
To restore balance across the web, Google established that all links in press releases must be tagged ‘nofollow.’ Links with a nofollow tag are not crawled by search engines and are essentially neutral in terms of SEO.
If PR backlinks are SEO-neutral, then what’s the point?
While PR backlinks don’t directly affect SEO, they still play an important role in improving a brand’s online reputation. It helps keep investors and customers in the know about exciting company news and can help maintain a positive consumer perception.
No matter if you have an in-house marketing team or are engaging outsourced marketing services when a press release aligns with an overarching marketing strategy, there can be significant SEO benefits.
How PR Backlinks Work
When a digital PR firm sends a press release to be published on a newswire or other media channel, there is no SEO benefit for the organization. And we already discussed the ethical controversy that comes with press releases. So how do PR backlinks work?
After the digital PR firm sends off your press release, their work begins. They use their media expertise as well as their contacts and business relationships.
Some of the backlinks built using enterprise-level SEO strategies won’t affect page rankings of large sites but would generate new leads and traffic in a more direct way.
Through these sources, they can find other journalists and content creators that want to pick up the story and write it as a new story for a different audience. Outreach like this is where the actual value of digital PR exists.
Your PR content can be turned into any number of blog posts, explainer videos, and other pieces of content geared to engage audiences and drive referral traffic to your website.
At this point, the article is no longer considered a press release, and the content will be backlinked to you by the authors and creators that use your story to write their content.
Additionally, these newly published backlinks are do-follow. The site where the article is published gets an SEO benefit from linking to your authoritative brand, and you get SEO benefits in the form of high-quality backlinks and brand awareness. All of these factors combine to give your PR and SEO boost in the end.
How to Get PR Backlinks the Right Way
As you can see, getting PR backlinks is only half the battle. Optimizing your press releases so search engines trust your content is another factor. So how do you ensure that your PR backlinks help your SEO efforts rather than hinder them?
1. Don’t Focus on SEO
That’s right. Press releases are one type of content that you do not want to over-optimize. Press release content should be thought of less as an SEO asset and more as a brand awareness piece.
The goal of PR isn’t to drive traffic to your website; it’s to get the word out about new and exciting things that your brand is getting involved with.
If you focus too much on SEO, crawlers might flag the content, putting your credibility down the drain. Instead of focusing on SEO when writing PR content, focus on what you say and how it reflects on your organization. Companies that offer professional marketing services know how much SEO is too much SEO.
2. Say Something Meaningful
It takes more than just distributing a PR piece to as many publications as possible. You need a good piece of content that tells a story. Don’t just write a PR piece to throw your brand into the news cycle. It will quickly get lost in the noise of accurate news-worthy content.
Instead, your PR content needs to have a purpose. Say something that has meaning for your audience. Then people will want to share your PR piece, spread brand awareness, and wonder what killer moves your brand will make next. Say something meaningful, and quality backlinks will follow.
3. Write Effectively
Writing a PR piece differs from writing an engaging blog post. It’s not meant to generate leads or end up at the top of search engine results. A good PR piece will be structured, and organized and give readers the information in a professional manner.
Your objective should be clear, with correct grammar and usage, and written for an authoritative audience. That way, when high authority websites see your content in the future, they will remember your brand and trust that it is a reputable source of information.
4. Know Your Audience
You’ve heard it a thousand times. Know. Your. Audience. No matter the content you create, it must be geared toward a specific audience. Otherwise, it’s in danger of falling flat and getting lost with all the other low-grade content in search results.
While a PR article is not meant to make sales or drive traffic, it does have a specific purpose for a specific audience: investors, industry authorities, competitors, and your most loyal brand evangelists.
Unless your PR content goes viral, it probably will not generate very many new leads. Give the reader another reason to connect with your brand by directing readers to additional information that can be found on your website.
5. Go Easy On Keywords
Anchored links with keywords are not suitable for PR content. Using too many keywords without anchored text is equally as harmful to your brand. As we discussed earlier, PR content is not meant to hit the top spot of search engine results.
PR content should create interest and spread awareness about your brand. Too much keyword optimization can end up penalizing your website. Instead, use general company-related keywords.
6. Find Quality Distribution Channels
Don’t send a PR piece to every channel you can think of. Choose PR distribution channels with care to ensure that the latest news about your brand reaches the right people and shows search engines that your company has a history of appearing on quality domains.
Plus, getting your PR content featured can be costly. Many PR news websites require a fee for pictures, hyperlinks, videos, and other media used in the press release, so you’ll need to choose wisely to get the most value.
7. No Follow All PR Backlinks
Finally, as counter-intuitive as it feels, tag all backlinks in the press release as ‘no-follow.’ This tells search engines that the purpose of the PR content is to share news and not to build links unethically.
Marking your backlinks as no-follow might hurt inside, but it will pay off in the long run. It helps boost your brand’s credibility in the eyes of search engines like Google and ensures that your domain is not penalized for black hat SEO practices.
Digital PR Is What We Do
BlueTree offers expert digital PR services to create unique, linkable content that your customers want to read about. Our industry authorities and news publications can help your brand get viral backlinks to enhance your brand’s organic search engine traffic and increase growth. We help you build a loyal following that is dying to hear about the latest news from their favorite brand: yours.
Earning PR backlinks that contribute to your SEO goals is an uphill battle. Nofollow policies and ethical standards are important to keep the news free from misinformation, but they make it difficult to find reputable PR backlinks that drive traffic to your website.
BlueTree’s digital PR strategy does more than just get the word out about your brand. We also develop different types of content to help your PR piece get noticed by all the right people.
BlueTree offers digital PR services that include SEO to boost your rankings with a white hat linkbuilding strategy. The results are long-term, organic, unstoppable growth.