Google has hit the headlines many times in the past year or so for aggressive updates to its search algorithms. As a result, the world of SEO and Internet Marketing has never been in uproar. A quick online reveals that a number of fairly high profile sites were affected by the changes in algorithm, taking what is widely considered to be a fairly major hit in search engine visibility.
The Google Panda update in February 2011, the subsequent Penguin update in April 2012 and May 24th (
Google Penguin Update 1.1) and the many small releases in between aimed to discredit those sites indulging in black hat SEO techniques. The changes were widely thought to have targeted blog networks, article sites and others delivering perceived low quality. The results though have been somewhat surprising. Some sites felt the wrath far but they aren’t all admitting it. Demand Studios, owners of ehow.com, are thought to be have been hit fairly hard by the updates but the company consistently denies the claims. One of the largest paid blog networks, buildmyrank.com, is not being quite so coy about the matter. In a post titled “It’s been a great run,” the owners of the site have admitted that the majority of their networks have been de-indexed by Google. Customer refunds are pending.
Will press release distribution sites suffer the same fate? Will Google ever go so far as to completely de-index them? Considering up to 90% of journalists still look to press releases for a source of interesting news, it’s unlikely. While the new rules of search remain shrouded in mystery, it’s fairly obvious to conclude that the key is to choose your platforms carefully and focus on doing an honest job with your press releases. The onus of course will also be on the press release sites themselves to monitor submissions and accept or reject accordingly.
A Post-Update Guide to SEO Friendly Press Releases
Lose the links: Not all them, obviously. A press release written with the Google updates in mind should avoid over-optimization. While it used to be fairly common practice to include three or more links to the same website, typically implemented as anchor text keyword links, that’s a thing of the past. The new style press release should have just the one link and the text needs to be varied across your individual releases. It’s also important to link back to various parts of your site rather than always linking to the same page.
Mix It Up: Google is increasingly placing greater value on the concept of semantic search, that is to provide information about what the searcher might actually be looking for. Over and above that, they want to see more keyword variety. Primary and secondary keywords aren’t enough anymore. You’ll need to do some extra research here to find related keywords or other ways of saying the same thing.
Content Remains King: Pre-updates, it was deemed acceptable to rehash an old press release by making a few minor amendments to the first and last paragraphs. As is the case of websites themselves, the search updates require that each press release uses original content. Keep a focus on providing quality content each and every time you put something out there.
Is It Worth The Effort?
We know that some sites have been hit and hit hard. The link value of press releases may have diminished as a result of the update but if you are to follow Google’s guidelines of producing quality content and providing value to your audience, then press releases remains a viable way of doing just that. Google, in the meantime, will continue to do its own thing and will no doubt issue a press release to keep us in the loop.
Build My Rank: It’s Been a Great Run
Google Webmaster Central Blog: Another step to reward high quality sites
The Wall Street Journal: Google Gives Search a Refresh
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