There has been a lot of debate the last couple of weeks about Press Releases and their value since Matt Cutts made the comment that they have almost no SEO value

This was, of course, followed by “tests” that showed that they did work. The test used a nonsense word on arguably one of the more powerful personal blogs out there. (Matt’s blog). Since the blog now ranked for that term they declared victory and moved on. Too bad they were wrong too.

We’ve used press releases for years, not for SEO (although that was a great perk) but for real traffic and outreach. For example, a few years back Elkhart, Indiana, was declared the white hot center of the economic meltdown and was even visited by President Obama. The RV industry had been nearly destroyed in less than a year. Unemployment for Elkhart county crossed 22%. But the jewelry store I was working for was doing as well as ever because of our website.

So we took the opportunity to put out a press releases of our own. Being successful during a white hot meltdown. We talked about the local economy and how we were managing to not only survive, but grow in the middle of it. We made sure it got proper exposure on PRWeb, and then mailed copies to WSJ, NYT, the president, and the writers who had all picked up the ‘white hot meltdown’ talking point.

Within a week we had radio and tv wanting interviews, newspaper writers everywhere were writing about us, and giving us links. But the traffic, and sales, from that press release were worth more than anything else.

When Matt says there is no SEO benefit from a press release, he is only half right. Any links you get from press release scraper sites probably have little to no value, but the links you get from people that talk about you BECAUSE of the press release do have value.

This is your task the next time you want to run a press release for ‘SEO’ reasons.

1. Find someone talking about some aspect of your business. The more famous / popular the better.

2. Find a way to take a counterpoint to whatever they are saying.

3. Do it.

4. Let them know about it directly.

Like every other form of marketing press releases are about engagement. Don’t just put out a release about painting your walls orange and then stuff anchor text links in the footer. Publish real news and try to engage with real people. That is the REAL value of a press release.