Google Changes to the World of News Release Distribution
For many years now marketing practitioners have been advocating people use news releases to improve their placement on search engines. The theory was that you could write and post a news release at a web distribution service and the optimized use of keywords and the links included in the release would result in oodles of incoming links all of which would help capture people’s attention and increase your page ranking on search engines as a result.
Google has decided to clean up the search results and do what it can to rid organic results of press release content that is really not bona fide news, but are instead, paid advertising in disguise. The requirements also have significance to sites that rely heavily on user-generated content.
The latest Google algorithm changes, known as Penguin 2.0, modifies how Google analyzes the role and utility of news releases posted at news release distribution services in a very significant way. The changes, adopted in late July 2013, include the following:
1. Press releases will be treated as paid placement by Google.
2. Optimized anchor text links in a press release distribution post will be considered as “unnatural” and will not be used in Google PageRank search result calculations.
3. Google now requires news release distribution services to add a “no follow” code attribute to all their outbound links in the news releases they post.
What this means is that if you now do a search for keywords on Google or Google News, your will now notice the near total absence of news releases, which used to account for fifty percent of more of what was the search engines produced in the top ten pages. No more. What is now delivered are articles from real media – newspapers, magazines, radio, tv, selected news services & syndicates, and the online versions, news web sites, and certain blogs.
The Google “no follow” and “anchored text” policies apply to”webmasters and directly impact services such as PR Web, Businesswire, PR Newswire, Send2Press, WebWire, MarketWire, OnlinePR Media, eReleases, and many more of the sites who used to be able to get top placement with their posted and archived news releases.
No more. Google has declared those days are over. The new moves by Google places the highest value on unique, quality content at real media sites.
The new search engine results highlight real media and focus on “earned media” and not subsidized links designed to simply weight and manipulate search engine results.
Google is also on the lookout to reduce the impact of large scale guest post activities and advertorials.
For several years now, SEO placement was driven by the use of “unnatural” backlinks and the heavy handed use of keywords in news releases. A variety of “black hat” SEO practices have been developed and used to push page placement. This will no longer be a viable strategy for businesses to utilize if they seek to improve their SEO ranking and the traffic they receive.
Natural links, directly to quality core content, expert or a company web site, are still acceptable.
What this means to publicity seekers is that a news release should not be written with the purpose of producing a sale directly. The news release should also not be written as an advertorial, or an infomercial.
The best view is that a news release is a pitch to a publisher (=media) to get them do publish or produce a story in the medium they utilize.
A news release, or a press release, is therefore a media proposal — a purpose driven communication that is delivered to media, or placed where they can find it, and which invites the media to do a feature story, an interview or a review (in the case of a book or product), and which contains an offer or the actual content and access to the people, needed to do that job.
So if you want real media coverage, write a news release that is truly designed to get you quality media coverage and send it to the right media. Instead of a post and pray web service. Then target your media carefully and send it to the right media directly. Reach out and contact real media people and offer them everything they need to do their job your way.
Help the people that you can help the most. The latest change means that quality content matters now more than ever before.
Good problem solving advice, news, value-added commentary, noteworthy public events, innovative products, quality books, and the best entertainment will get higher search engine placement, and hence command more value in the eyes of the searching public. Earned media coverage acquired by using targeted PR tactics and strategies will be one of the primary vehicles for gaining that status.
For additional reading:
Search Engine Roundtable article by Barry Schwarz July 30, 2013
Search Engine Watch article by Lisa Buyer July 26, 2013