Should I Pay for a Press Release Distribution Service?

by Gradiva Couzin on April 22, 2015

Q: We’re thinking about putting out some press releases for our B2B using a wire service. What is your view from an SEO perspective on this approach?

A: Press release distribution has become much less effective as an SEO tactic in recent years, but in some cases press releases can still be helpful for SEO. Google tends to devalue links coming from press release sites, and has discouraged the creation of low quality/spammy press releases that have been overused by marketers in past years. However, there are some cases where a press release is great for SEO: If the information being distributed is truly newsworthy, the online commentary and links resulting from that interest can help your site’s ranks. Additionally, in some cases a press release can display in Google News results, which can feed interest and drive traffic to your site. A press release may also provide a short-term band-aid for a reputation issue in search results.

We don’t recommend spending a lot of money on frequent press release distribution in the absence of frequent newsworthy announcements. We do encourage our clients to engage in thoughtful PR efforts, because good PR often results in exposure that improves brand awareness, increases brand mentions, and increases links to your website, all of which can have a positive impact on SEO. Press releases don’t generally have this effect, but there are some exceptions as mentioned above.

I’m not convinced that having wire distribution is worth the money if you don’t have a talented PR or social media professional putting the tool to good use.

Generally the PR efforts that are good for SEO involve a good bit of time, ongoing contact with a network of influencers, and having a knack for identifying or manufacturing newsworthy items. These efforts, when successful, can result in things that are great for SEO, like an article featuring an interview with a company’s CEO, influential bloggers writing about your company and others sharing/discussing the story, or even offline events like charity activities or conferences that generate discussion and mentions online. In this way, there is a lot of overlap between PR and social media outreach.

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We’ve been helping customers improve their search engine ranks and conversion rates for over a decade. We consult on SEO and social media for major brands, one-person shops, and everything in between. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!

Our Favorite Spider Emulators for SEO

by Gradiva Couzin on March 6, 2015

Q:  In your book you recommended using a spider emulator to see what a webpage looks like to search engine robots. What tool do you use when you’re doing this?

A: These days, we use three different methods for reviewing a site with the “spiders-eye view.” Here they are in order of simplest to most complicated:

* Rex Swains HTTP viewer at  Type in any URL and see what a typical client (browser or spider will see).  This is a great tool for a quick and easy look at a page.

* Fetch as Googlebot. This only works for sites that you have a Google Webmaster Tools account for (so it can’t be used for competitive review, only for your own site).  Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools by following the instructions here:  Once you have your website verified, click Crawl > Fetch as Google and enter the URL of the page that you want to see.  This method has the advantage that it is an accurate rendition of what Google sees, according to Google itself.

* Microsoft’s IIS SEO Toolkit. This is useful when you want to crawl an entire site, and this is what we use for our site technical audits. It is a free crawler, requiring a PC platform to run:


We’ve been helping customers improve their search engine ranks and conversion rates for over a decade. We consult on SEO and social media for major brands, one-person shops, and everything in between. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!

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