How to Use A Press Release For SEO & Maximize Exposure [+ Examples]

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Mandy Bray
Mandy Bray

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Can a press release boost your SEO? Yes, and no. Press releases harken back to a pre-social media, pre-mobile, and even pre-internet age. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re dead. They’ve simply evolved.

marketer using press release for seo

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Here’s our breakdown on why press releases still matter and how they impact your SEO and online visibility. While press releases aren’t a silver bullet, you can optimize your release to improve your chances of media coverage and online visibility.

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Why Press Releases Still Matter for SEO

You aren’t alone if you think of press releases as so… 1999. A press release is a statement, often with images, that companies share with media outlets to encourage pickup and coverage by the outlet. You need to write in a specific press release format with AP Style, which can sound very formal. But here’s why press releases are 100% worth the effort:

  1. They’re a starting point for expanded media coverage
  2. They’re indexed by search engines, meaning they will appear when someone searches your brand name or relevant keywords in Google
  3. They can drive traffic to your website and brand

How Press Release Distribution Works

The primary way to distribute a press release is by using a wire service like Business Wire, PR Newswire, or PR Web. When you send a release through a “wire,” your content is automatically sent and picked up by dozens– or even hundreds– of media outlets based on the parameters you choose.

In my experience, a press release pickup verbatim isn’t the same as a journalist writing an original story about your news. First, press release pickups don’t appear on the front page of a news site– they’re typically buried somewhere in the website. Second, search engines treat links in press releases differently than links in regular news stories.

Need help getting started? Download our free press release template.

Dofollow vs. Nofollow Links

Google gives press release links a “nofollow” designation, meaning that the links will not impact your domain’s ranking either way. That means that, unlike a backlink from an original news story or reputable partner site, a press release link won’t boost your domain rating.

While press release distribution alone isn’t a magic wand wave to raise your domain rating, it still impacts SEO because it creates new indexed pages with your key messaging. It can also result in expanded media coverage, brand exposure, and traffic to your website from search engines.

You can optimize your press release to improve your SEO and online visibility with these seven tips.

Free Press Release Template

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    SEO Best Practices for Press Releases

    1. Intersperse Keywords

    Like any SEO effort, keyword research should be the cornerstone of your strategy. In my PR career, I’ve found that most executives want their company name front and center. However, the truth is that many readers don’t know who you are, and your name can take up valuable real estate for keywords or hooks. Some of the best headlines are unbranded.

    Instead, use keyword research tools like Google Ads, Ahrefs, or Keyword Surfer to build a keyword list. Think of the descriptive words a customer would use to search online. They might search for “staffing agency [city name]” or “best recruitment agency,” for example.

    Place your most important keyword in the headline and again in the first paragraph of the press release. Intersperse other important keywords throughout the body of the release.

    2. Write a Compelling Headline and Hook

    When optimizing a press release, it’s tempting to prioritize the technical SEO aspects at the expense of quality content. Google weighs page engagement for rankings, so make sure your content has the power to engage readers.

    Write a headline that stands out and lead with a hook that’s more interesting than “Today, [company name] announced…” Write an interesting headline and use concrete examples and data to bring your story to life.

    Press release example, Shopify

    Image Source

    One brand whose press releases are never dull is ecommerce platform Shopify. From “Cha-ching! Shopify merchants break Black Friday records” to “Breaking news: Enterprise software does not have to suck,” look to their newsroom for inspiration.

    Your headline should be descriptive enough that the reader knows what they’re doing to get when they click. Headline length matters, too. PR Newswire found that headlines around 75 characters receive the most page views. It’s even better to keep it under 70 characters so Google doesn’t truncate your title in search results.

    3. Include Multimedia

    Press releases are stronger when you use visuals to tell your story. PR Newswire reports that 90% of its top-performing press releases include multimedia. This can be photos, videos, a logo, or embedded multimedia. They also found that releases see twice as much engagement with an image, three times as much engagement with a video, and six times as much engagement with multiple photos or images.

    Since visual search is growing in popularity, make sure to add relevant alt text to make your photos and videos discoverable on Google images.

    Press release example, Porshe

    Image Source

    Consider this release from auto-maker Porshe. I love the full album of stunning photos alongside its text. Another example is audio brand Sennheiser, who embedded images and social media posts throughout its press release announcing a TikTok launch.

    Press release example, Sennheiser

    Image Source

    4. Use First-Person Quotes

    Let’s be honest: most quotes in press releases are drier than days-old bread. Many are written in the third person and don’t add anything to the release except a pat on the back to the executive quoted. Challenge yourself to write a quote in first-person (“I” or “we”) and take an interesting stance or show the personality of the speaker.

    This humanizes the brand and increases the chance it’ll be picked up by media, but it’s also good for SEO. With its E-E-A-T update, Google rewards content with personal perspectives and “I” statements.

    splenda press release example

    Image Source

    To really stand out, you can take a page from Heartland Food Products Group’s playbook and write an entire release as a first-person narrative from their CEO. This bold move in the face of the 2023 Splenda controversy paid off, landing the press release in the PR Newswire’s top-read releases of the year (though I can’t condone their 35-word headline).

    5. Optimize for Geography

    Have you heard the story of the dental office named “Dentist Near Me”? While you shouldn’t overdo localized SEO, adding geographic tags is crucial for local businesses.

    If you’re expanding into a new service area or opening a new storefront location, a press release can gain key media coverage and land your announcement in search results. Be sure to include the metro area and other counties or suburbs you will service in your press release. If you’re sending a wire release, choose your target market and other nearby ones for the wire.

    6. Include Links, But Don’t Stuff Them

    As I shared from the outset, links in press releases aren’t a silver bullet for SEO. But if you’ve followed all my other tips to this point, you’ll have eyeballs on your content. You need a clear call-to-action and link to connect them to your product or service. Link to your primary landing page early in the press release, and again at the end. Link to your company’s homepage in your boilerplate.

    Just as you shouldn’t stuff keywords, don’t stuff links in press releases. It doesn’t work and can have the opposite effect on search engine rankings.

    Free Press Release Template

    A free guide and template to help you run your company's PR.

    • Company Announcements
    • Promotion Checklist
    • Guide to PR Best Practices
    Learn more

      Download Free

      All fields are required.

      You're all set!

      Click this link to access this resource at any time.

      7. Build a Distribution Strategy

      Last of all, make sure that sending a press release isn’t the end of your distribution strategy. Distributing a press release isn’t your end goal– brand exposure is. Build a comprehensive distribution plan that includes social media, pitching and following up with journalists, and creating and sharing content on your website.

      With these different tactics, you can build a multi-faceted approach to share owned and earned content and land your message in front of audiences.

      Incorporate Press Releases Into Your Strategy

      When done right, press releases are a powerful arrow in the quiver of your marketing and PR strategy. Plan your keywords, write interesting headlines, and vary your content with multimedia and quotes to pack a punch.

      Never underestimate the power of the press to boost your campaign and place you in front of new audiences.

      Editor's note: This article was originally published in March 2011 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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