Use online press releases and be Google-proof: Interview with Joe Laratro

Joe LaratroJoe LaratroWith the latest updates and Google sharpening even more its link schemes[1], online press release distribution guidelines have also changed. So, now you might be asking yourselves: are PRs still a big deal? Or using them can get your website penalized before it gets optimized?

Since I had the very same question, I went to get some answers from one of the most experienced professionals in the industry. PubCon lead moderator and CEO at Tandem Interactive, Joe Laratro, who was kind enough to share some of his 10-years experience in the SEM industry in an interview for our blog, and offer great tips and insights on effective press release distribution nowadays.

Here are the questions we discussed, that shed a lot of light onto the new status of press releases, but if you have some of your own, just write them down below.

Let’s get started! ?

Q: Is online press release distribution as popular as it used to be?

A: If I were to guess, I would estimate 30-40% of online press releases were for some type of SEO purpose. I think that the online press release services had to see a decline of 20% since July. I would really like to see the stats of online PRs directly from PRWeb or another wire service since Google posted their changes.

Q: What’s the ideal submission frequency? How many press releases would you recommend during a month’s time?

A: A few years ago, one press release a month was a good idea to stay in Google news. I have always leaned more towards the strategy of putting out a PR when there was real newsworthy content. If your business has amazing news 30 days a month, put out 30 releases. If it only has amazing news twice a year, then put out 2 releases.

Q: In your opinion, what is newsworthy?

A: To me, newsworthy means content that someone else would be interested in learning about. That covers a broad range of interpretation. Are new hires newsworthy? Sure. Are new product offerings newsworthy? Sure. Is a page about nonsense that has a bunch of keyword anchor text links newsworthy? No.

Q: Tell us a few guidelines to help our readers figure out the structure of a PR copy.

A: I did an article[2] once with Lisa Buyer, on what should marketers do to survive Google’s update on press releases links. When deciding to write a press release, any marketer, either PR or SEO pro, should first ask himself a series of questions. Answering them defines the structure and purpose a PR copy should have. Here are the questions:

  1. Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  2. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  3. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  4. Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  5. Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  6. Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  7. Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  8. Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious
  9. Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  10. Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?

Q: Would you recommend using free PR distribution services?

A: No, I was never a fan of them. I have seen them rank, but if the content is valuable, pay for it to go out.

Q: Does press release distribution work in every industry? Let’s say, for example, you own an e-commerce website. How can you use PR to grow your business?

A: My old SEO answer would have been yes. My new answer is still yes, but not for SEO reasons. Any business that has a message (news) that needs to be heard has an opportunity to broadcast that message through online PR.

Q: Thousands of online press releases are submitted each day. How to make yours visible?

A: There are two main schools of thought here. The first one would be to use sensational headlines that will grab reader’s attentions so they write their own article (news writers), and the second would be to focus on great keyword content (keyword subject matter, keyword title, regular SEO tactics) and the PR itself may rank.

Q: A recent update from Google warns about “optimized anchor text” in press releases. Is this the end of PR distribution?

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