You have to no-follow those keyword-rich anchor text links now or Google will consider the press release much the same way they do spam. It applies to articles too.
Read this from SEOBook.com, Google Press Release Links
So, no, the press releases don't give you a lot of good back-links. Press Releases are for news announcements as they always were intended, not for SEO.
Came back to edit this to add this article to help people understand Google's new guidelines on press releases. http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2287902/12-Ways-to-Optimize-Press-Releases-Avoid-Google-Penalties
Press releases are great. Just keep the PR on topic and write it for the reader NOT for the search engines. Plus don't overuse PR's. Google definitely does not like redundant content or the same type of content being distributed in the same way over and over again.
I agree with everyone else in this thread, Press Releases are good, if you have some news worthy information about your business. Don't just shoot out useless information that no one would be interested in.
Also, make sure you do not use links (exact match anchors) within the body of the content. And if you must include a link back to your site, make sure it is using the rel="nofollow" tag.
This is recommended by Google.
SEO Website Designs
Yes! It's good to incorporate press releases into a your SEO strategy. Submit your press releases to quality, paid press release networks and make sure they're you submit only high quality content.
Press releases are a great way to expand your client and customer base. The main purpose of every release is to raise public awareness about your company. Successful releases to well circulated publications can give your business widespread recognition. Another effective use of press releases is to increase traffic to your website.
Short answer. They aren't. I've never sold press releases to clients as part of their search engine optimization. However, for a long time, there have been a lot of people using them as a link building tool, using keyword-rich anchor text, submitting to a ton of press release distribution sites, etc.
Sound familiar? That's article marketing. Just calling the article a press release doesn't make it so. I've always advised clients to spend money elsewhere if the goal is to improve SEO and reserve press releases for when you have a real newsworthy announcement to make.
See this post I made March 08, 2010 called Press Releases &; Social Media & and News Sources
Now read this announcement from SEO Round Table. There's a video, but it's 10 minutes long. Reading it only takes a couple of minutes.
I know it sounds like an "I told you so" post, but most good SEOs have always advised the same strategy. There are a lot of ways to improve your SEO results. Press Releases are just not one of them. If you get any SEO value from them, it's a side benefit, not the main purpose.
However, Press Releases are a great promotional tool that can get you a lot of targeted traffic and attention. It is and always was the purpose for doing press releases.
What do you think? Agree or Disagreee?