If you’re a business owner and you’ve stumbled around the web recently, you’ve probably encountered a number of ads for PRWeb – a service that offers to promote your business through press releases. About once a week, I get a call from someone at PRWeb who describes their offerings – and I’ve always politely declined, but their business concept always sounds interesting to me: their prices start at $99, and it’s always good to get some buzz going on news sites. I decided to investigate their services a bit more closely and report my results to you, my dear friends on the internet. Here’s what I found:
How does PRWeb Work?
It’s pretty simple: write a press release about your business, and for $99/pop, PRWeb will get it published for you on news sites and tech blogs. For a little extra, they’ll send your release to journalists and bloggers, in the hopes that they’ll publish it for you on their sites too.
The important part is that, in each release, there’s a small link included to your website (a.k.a. a backlink) – the likes of which are supposed to increase your search engine rankings (Google likes to reward websites that are linked to by reputable blogs and news sites).
Sounds great, right?
It would be – if it worked. It just doesn’t.
Is PRWeb effective?
The short answer: probably not.
Despite PRWeb’s sales pitch, way back in 2005, Google came out and explicitly said that PRWeb backlinks don’t count towards your site’s credibility. In other words – for SEO purposes, they’re entirely useless.
PRWeb press releases still show up in Google News results (Google’s platform for breaking news), but very few Google users ever see news results, and the PRWeb results they do see aren’t likely to generate sales: after all, the most a potential customer is going to see about your business is a simple, half-hearted press release about a new product from your business. Even if they like it, you’re still betting that they’ll find the all-too-tiny link at the bottom of the post.
And, to really top it off, the folks at PRWeb don’t even write the press release for you. You do that. So what are you really paying for? Poor-quality promotion.
Credibility of releases
PRWeb also doesn’t do much to check the validity of the releases they receive – in fact, they do so little that at one point they published a release stating that Google had purchased a tech company for $400 million, when, in fact, the company hadn’t been bought at all.
To add insult to injury, companies who pay for PRWeb’s services, starting at $99 for the basic package, may actually be hurting their credibility – as many of the websites PRWeb publishes to are filled with nothing but press releases (exactly the sort of site that Google identifies as being a bad content provider) that a lot of potential customers will inevitably associate the marketed client’s business with spam and scams.
What about for legitimate press releases?
If your business genuinely has a press release with something genuinely important to say – PRWeb isn’t a terrible option for getting the word out. For your $100, you’ll get a bit of minor Google News publicity, and you’ll undoubtedly elicit a few reads from browsers on tech news sites – maybe 100 views total. However – there are far more effective (and far cheaper) ways to publicize your business – ads through Google, Twitter or Facebook, or even a simple article on your website.
If PRWeb worked the way it was supposed to, it would be a tremendous asset to small businesses. But it doesn’t. Google doesn’t care that you spent $99, unfortunately. A more realistic outlook leads to the following brief list of some healthy alternatives:
A More Realistic Approach
- Build relationships with other website owners. More relationships means more opportunities to provide one another with back links, direct traffic to each other’s websites and more. Incredible opportunities can result from a single relationship if the situation is right. Find businesses that compliment your own. Put yourself out there and people will respond accordingly.
- Guest post on other blogs and websites. If you already have relationships with other website owners, then start making them mutually beneficial. Offer useful articles in exchange for back links in the articles’ signatures. A regular exchange of SEO articles and back links is a highly efficient, two-birds-one-stone sort of relationship to have. The more blogs you can forge such a bond with, the more quickly you can affect your own search rankings.
- Create viral content. If you can create unique content that inspires people to share it, then you can distribute your business’s name with unmatched speed. A really interesting article, a truly entertaining video, or any other sharable medium can be a great way to direct people to your brand. It doesn’t even necessarily have to relate to your brand. It’s just about getting attention. At that point, you’ve already made a huge impact, and consumers are ready to hear what else you have to say.
Ready to turn your website into a sales-machine? We’d love to help. Talk to us now – we don’t bite!