Guest post: The Myth Of Press Release Syndication: Kelvin Newman, SiteVisibility


FX: Fanfare

This the very first Guest Post on In Front Of Your Nose. And I’m delighted to welcome Kelvin Newman from SiteVisibility for this auspicious debut with his take on The Myth Of Press Release Syndication. His views on the subject are highly pertinent – not least because he knows what he is talking about when it comes to SEO – and the PR world on the whole has a very distorted view of what they can, could or should do with regard to press releases and search.

Kelvin is Creative Director at SiteVisibility (without question, one of the top SEO firms in the UK), as well as editor and presenter of  iTunes most popular marketing podcast (again, along with a sub to Econsultancy, people could save themselves a lot of pain and heartache by simply listening to this every week).

Anyway. I’ll shut up. Kelvin, take it away….
Guest post: The Myth Of Press Release Syndication: Kelvin Newman, SiteVisibility

“We all understand that Google’s algorithm is trying to mimic the real world. Google’s reliance on links to determine authority is based on what happens offline. If a trusted person or media outlet recommends a product, the more I trust the recommendation. And the more likely I am to believe them. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So why do so many people believe that Press Release Syndication services (who will shill for anyone who hands over the cash) are going to be good for your rankings?

In my opinion, rather than just being a benign distraction for the naive, I’m genuinely concerned that huge swathes of the PR industry think that in order to ‘get’ SEO they just have to start adding a few keywords into their press releases, bung them on a wire. And their clients will  automatically shoot up the rankings.

The links that have the most impact are those that are hardest to achieve; genuine editorial mentions on relevant pages of sites with huge trust. Press release syndication will never enable you to do that. All it does is get you a link from a website which no real person ever visits. There are no real editorial standards being used. So the chances are even higher that really low quality spammy sites are being linked from and tainting your clients by association.

Some people occasionally justify this process on the basis it might help a website get at least some links and coverage from journalists who subscribe to the release wire service concerned. Personally, I can’t see it. When I used to work on Zoo and Arena,  journalists were swamped with releases by email. I doubt they’re going to go out of their way to sign up to get more.

Some services even charge you more to get some shiny social media buttons on your release. What a complete waste of money. I can count on one hand the number of times a press release has been shared in my social networks. And in those cases, it was only because what was contained in the release was hugely news worthy. The latest “me too” product launch or made up survey is never going to get shared socially.

And do you think Google, with their sweat shops of PHDs, haven’t twigged that these websites will link to anyone who pays? It’s not a huge leap to assume that they might have tuned out any minor value that these websites might have had years ago.

So why do people still think it works? Well, it’s easier than actually wrapping your head around how link building really works. It’s a small nod to SEO without actually having to drastically change approach.

However, I can’t be completely against the technique.  It can be a great way to open up communication between whoever is responsible for PR and SEO. It shows that on both sides of the table, we’re starting to understanding that we’ll get better results if we work together.

Of course, it is beautifully ironic that in the area where you most frequently see collaboration between PR and SEO currently, the outcomes hardly justify the effort. The real value of PR and SEO working in unison is in creating stories and content that appeal to the people who have the power to link to – and influence – a site’s reputation in a positive way.  This is where PRs and SEOs should be concentrating their efforts.

In summary, my attitude is if the news release has already been written, it’s mad not to try to eek out a bit of SEO value by publishing it on a wire. It’s not going to do any harm. But anyone who thinks press release syndication is an important link building strategy needs their head testing.”

What do you think?

Comment below like your life depends upon it.

Monitoring Social Media event – Boston: 5th October 2010. 20pc discount on all tickets.


Update: 16/10/2010 Discount now 20pc. Post amended to reflect this.

The folk at Influence People have a got a number of good events coming up in the US over the next few months. If the quality is anything like the Social Media Marketing event I attended in London in June, then US attendees are in for a treat.  One of our clients (Glide Technologies) will be participating in the Monitoring Social Media event in Boston on the 5th of October (more details below).  A 20% discount on any ticket price is available to anyone using the promo code ‘GLIDE’.

Enjoy.

Monitoring Social Media (Boston) will bring together leading brands, PR and marketing experts to discuss the latest ideas, trends and techniques in social media monitoring and measurement.  Though a series of presentations, panels and expert-led discussions, we will explore the critical issues that marketers and PR professionals are facing in their efforts to monitor their social media interactions.”

Tuesday 5th October

John Hancock Hotel & Conference Centre

40 Trinity Place at Stuart Street

Boston, MA 02116

 


Exclusive! 4 step process for PRs to gain backlink building expertise in 30 mins. Guaranteed!


Kelvin Newman of Brighton-based SEO firm Site Visibility posted a great piece on EConsultancy recently in which he claimed that PRs can be better link builders than SEOs.

Of course, the important word in the title to his blog post is “can”. The implication being that PRs currently aren’t better link builders.

On the back of this, I have spent a lot of effort over the last few weeks to come up with the following foolproof process for PRs who feel they are lacking in their backlink building skills and want to get one up on the competition:

Step One: Click this link
Step Two: Spend 30 mins to one hour reading the articles here.
Step Three: Go back and read them again
Step Four: Remember what you’ve read before embarking on any kind of link building exercise.

Seriously though. Eric Ward talks a lot of sense.  He’s been banging the “great backlink building is synonymous with good PR” drum for longer than anybody.

Pick any one of his articles, and you’ll usually find a pearl of wisdom eg:

It is not the link itself that the engines trust. It is the person behind the link.

The ultimate credibility of the content will be determined, from a linking standpoint, by the credibility of those giving out the links.

Web marketers should not ignore the significant role this human algorithm will play in their link building future.

There seems to be a growing consensus that relationship building and content are the keys to successful backlink building (and by definition, successful PR and SEO). If so, then the door remains firmly ajar for the PR sector. However, it needs to make the effort to grasp the opportunity.

The problem of Information Obesity


I believe Tim Ferriss of Four Hour Work Week fame coined the phrase and concept of a “low information diet”.

According to Ferris: “It’s not enough to use information for ‘something’ – it needs to be immediate and important. If ‘no’ on either count, don’t consume it. Information is useless if it is not applied to something important or if you will forget it before you have a chance to apply it.”

It occurred to me that you could extend Ferriss’ diet/food analogy. In other words, we are all consuming too many information calories. And, as a result, we are suffering from information obesity. Our brains are getting fat with useless information.

However, what we don’t have is any equivalent form of food labelling for information.  The food we buy has meta data regarding its nutritional content – in other words, we have the opportunity to decide whether to consume based on prior information.

However, with information itself, rather than be able to determine in advance what “info nutrition” the content has, we tend to have to consume it first to find out – by then, it is too late.

Stretching the analogy to breaking point,perhaps  trusted people, media and brands will  become the information nutrition filters that our bloated minds surely crave.

Or do I want my cake and eat it?

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