Reprinted with permission from Optimize My Firm, https://optimizemyfirm.com/press-releases-seo/.
GENERALLY SPEAKING, BACKLINKS from press releases have no search engine optimization (SEO) value and do not help law firms. However, if there is actual newsworthy content in the press release which generates real media coverage, press releases are effective for both reputation building and SEO.
When Press Releases are Not a Linkbuilding Strategy
Some SEO agencies issue press releases as a way to obtain backlinks. This was actually a “trick” which did indeed work well. Back in like, 2006.
How it worked
- Someone would type up a press release.
- The press release contained a link to your website.
- The press release was issued.
- The press release ended up on sites all over the web.
- Tada! You have a whole bunch of links.
Of course, Google put an end to this long, long ago. In 2012, Google’s Matt Cutts stated “I wouldn’t expect links from press release websites to benefit your rankings”. In July 2013, Google updated their “Link Schemes” page to address press release spam specifically. Websites that employed press release tactics were penalized (Google would later move towards “ignoring” these links).
In 2018, Google’s John Mueller stated: “We try to ignore links from things like press releases, because we know, in general, companies put the press releases out themselves. So any links in there are essentially placed by themselves . . . I just wouldn’t rely on any [kind] of press releases as a strategy for building up links for a website because like I said we do ignore most of those.”
Real Press Releases Are Good for SEO
When a law firm (or any other company) has real news, issuing a press release is a great idea. It is important to get content onto your site in advance of issuing the press release. That’s because journalists want to write about real news. One law firm that we work with is frequently in the news thanks to their antitrust, class action and other high profile cases. They get information posted about the news onto their website, then issue the press release, then answer questions from the media or journalists find what they need right on the law firm’s site and they can easily link to it. In addition to the links, this helps them build their reputation. If you google their law firm’s name, you’ll see their site followed by articles about them from Bloomberg Law, Law360, Yahoo, New York Times, CNN and others in the search results.
Issuing Your Press Releases
There are several good companies you can utilize to issue press releases. We use Cision. In general, a press release should be around 500 words or so and quickly get to the point of what you’re announcing. The announcement should be “newsworthy” (a large class action, a big settlement, etc). Smaller firms can benefit from Press Releases, too, however, if they do not have big news, they’ll need a great story. Additional legwork may be involved to target the right journalists. Even in these cases, journalists may not choose to cover your story if they feel it is too self promotional (they have seen law firms issue PRs thousands of times now).
If your SEO agency is issuing press releases over Internet awards or as an SEO linkbuilding strategy, they’re living in the dinosaur ages of the Internet and I’d strongly advise against doing business with them and their ineffective strategies.