It seems like I've been flooded with emails over the past few weeks from small businesses that have seen the bottom drop out of their sales when an algorithm shift dumped their site so far down in the rankings that they've become virtually invisible. Many of these businesses are summer-seasonal and risk going bankrupt if they can't find a way to drive traffic to their site quickly. I'll save the lecture on relying on a single search engine for all of your sales for another day and focus on giving you a few ideas that you can try to implement immediately in order to keep your business afloat.

Some of these ideas are easier to implement than others and some require a bit of creativity on your part, but all of them rank as among the fastest ways I've found to drive traffic and sales to a Web site. In this article, I'll focus on how press releases can give your site a much-needed shot of adrenaline.

A well written press release is a great way to get some incoming links to your site because there are so many places that pick them up and run them. This can give you a nice PR boost and can drive some decent traffic. There's also the obvious chance that someone will pick up your news and run with it, thus driving some traffic via viral marketing. (more on this in the next article in the series)

Here's the thing to remember with press releases though. You can't just issue one for any old thing, you need to have a selling point. You have to take the time to come up with a strategy, otherwise no one is going to care what you have to say. Your press release can focus on a case study that showcases your services in a compelling way. It can spread the word that you'll be donating a portion of your sales to a specific charity for a limited time.

What you decide to promote is up to you, but you've got to have more of a "catch" than "hey, come see our web site!" I can't count the number of press releases that I read each morning either on the wires, or as they filter through my inbox. More than 90% of them are so dull that there's no reason to get past the first paragraph. The lesson? If you want to use a press release to boost a troubled business, take the time to do it right.

As with anything marketing related, contracting with a professional that is experienced in SEO-related press releases is your best bet. For those that simply cannot afford to out-source the project, there's still hope. Take a few moments to read these two articles.

Getting Free Publicity - How To Write A Press Release
How To Write A Press Release For Google News

Once you have your hook developed and your press release ready to go, you'll want to get it submitted via some distribution outlets that actually get picked up be placed like Google News. There are many out there, but here's a collection of free and low-cost wires that you can submit your press release to.
PR Leap
Press World
PRN Direct
PR Web

It is important to remember that your work doesn't stop with submitting the release. You need to make certain that you follow through and find out where it has been posted, that you answer any inquiries that come in as a result of it and that you track to see if it drives any sales. You'll need this information to help you make decisions about the next press release you decide to issue and also to help determine the direction that the rest of your marketing efforts go.

Above all else, keep in mind that issuing a single press release isn't the cure for lost organic search rankings. It's simply a band-aid to help your site heal while you get back on track and come up with a plan of action. Assuming that the press release push helps put you back in the black, make sure that you set aside some of those funds to either improve your existing organic efforts, or to hire someone that can.

In the next article in this series, I'll look into how pay per click advertising can help drive immediate traffic and sales to your site.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
July 14, 2005

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Saving Your Business from an Algorithm Shift - Part 1: Press Releases