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The topic of press releases is near and dear to me since I have spent the last two years experimenting with about 20+ sites and the impact on search marketing.  The key starting point in this discussion is to first determine the goal of the press release.  There are many goals that could be possible and I have just listed a few:
  1. To be picked up by offline media news
  2. To stir controversy or break news
  3. To block competitors from Google Page One for valuable keywords
  4. To create a basic link from a highly rated website
I have focused my research on numbers 3 and 4 and have found that my opinions conflict with traditional advertising agencies.  Most traditional agencies think of a press release in offline terms and that the message has to be very important.  Traditional agencies scratch their heads when I tell them that car dealers should put out press releases at least every month per brand. As an Automotive SEO consultant, I have a standard "goal" of owning the first 10 free organic search results in a Google SERP.  I want to eliminate competition for certain search phrases for my clients.  So my spin on press releases is that they are part of an offsite SEO toolkit.  They are not the solution to search dominance, but they are part of the toolkit I use.  They work well because the content is posted on a highly rated website.  Other tools in an effective off-site SEO strategies include blogs, forums, commenting on high page ranked articles that don't have a "no follow" tag, videos, document posting services, social communities, and the list goes on.  In today's competitive market, once dealers have a good website platform in place they need to consider the off-site SEO work that needs to be done each month.

Why You Need Many Tools in the Toolbox

Type into Google "Ford Transit Connect New Mexico" and you can see how free press releases services can help create SERP entries that block competition and drive traffic to a dealer's website.  Normally press releases can optimize well for 3+ word keyword phrases.  There are many examples I can give, but the concept applies to any phrase you want to optimize. Content targeting keywords is the heart of SEO.  Type into Google "digital dealer conference Nashville"  or "digital dealer Nashville" and you will see that 50% of Google page one is dominated by articles that talk about my seminar or the conference.  That is a direct decision to promote my brand.  This is the same strategy can be used for car dealer names, the cars they sell or the promotions they plan.  These press releases build SERP visibility and also good links.  Tip: When you create links in a press release hyperlink the keyword phrases that you want to promote and link to an appropriate page on your website.  Do not always create links to your home page. Press releases and their impact can vary based on which site you decide to use to publish your press release.   Spending more money on expensive press release posts ($300-$700) in most cases do not justify their costs from page one rankings.  They may generate more calls or offline copy but a $25 press release can often beat the $700 release.

Measuring ROI

The ROI is hard to measure unless your website platform has the ability to capture referring URL'swhen someone completes a lead form.  Those platforms that capture referring URL's on all forms can demonstrate easily the ROI of press releases.  Many releases that I post get anywhere from 500-1,000 visitors and cost about $100 to write and implement. Dealers that have the right platform in place can spend a few hundred dollars to create and publish a few press releases to determine ROI of this medium within 30-60 days.  This goes for any off-site SEO strategies; blogging, car forums, Facebook,. etc.  Dealers need to demand from their platform vendors to have the ability to track form submissions to the referring URL that drove that consumer session to their website.

Press Release Training

Writing and Posting Good Press Releasescould be a topic at the Automotive Marketing Boot Camp.  The session would show attendees tips on creating and posting press releases, in real-time for their dealership.  Do you think this is needed skills building exercise?  We could probably write, review and post 3-4 press releases for each dealership in attendance on four different website portals in a two hour session.  Let me know what you think...

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