Google Doesn’t Really Want to Kill Your Press Release

In case you missed it, the PR world agrees to disagree with ZDNet’s click bait freakout headline “Did Google just kill PR agencies?

OK, so what did the big guys’ changes to webmaster rules on links and keywords do? They forced PR pros to change their SEO press release strategies—and this is not a bad thing.

See, Google really doesn’t like what they call “link manipulation schemes” which provide “unnatural boost[s] to the popularity of a piece of content” via tactics like the dubious repetition of certain hyperlinked keywords/phrases which all go back to the same client’s address as well as the placement of press releases on numerous sites to improve search placement and “game [Google’s] algorithm.” According to ZDNet’s Tom Foremski, Google sees these PR practices as the equivalent of the “keyword stuffing” tricks that they hate so very much.

Their warning to publicists pushing clients’ content: If you continue doing this, your client company may well be penalized or even blacklisted.

Bad news, right? Not really…

As Porter Novelli’s Chad Hyett puts it, this move won’t kill PR agencies except perhaps “…the lazy ones.” Joshua Lachkovic of HotwirePR argues that the move simply means that, in the future, PR pros must go to greater lengths to ensure that their releases don’t resemble spam. For one, we should make sure to classify client links as “nofollow” to let the Google bots know that they’re not designed to unfairly influence search ranking. It’s a fairly simple HTML trick that everyone needs to learn immediately.

Kent Yunk of PPC Associates writes that:

Most optimization professionals and webmasters are well aware of how hard it can be to build quality, authoritative links. It takes time and serious effort to build these good links and can have a real payoff in the end.

In other words, Google doesn’t hate PR agencies, they simply appreciate a job well done. The lesson is quite basic, really: earned links are far more valuable than paid links, good content always trumps lazy linkbait, and everyone in PR needs to take extra steps to convince the new-and-improved Google that they aren’t trafficking in paid links. If you really think about it, the move simply forces us to do our jobs more effectively.

Clients will love this, by the way. And the change obviously doesn’t apply to press releases meant for journalists, so you should keep sending us those as long as you follow some friendly guidelines.

Speaking of linkbait, we wish someone would find a way to kill the “5 Signs You’ll Get Cancer” “Links from around the web” crap you find at the bottom of every blog post everywhere. We’re looking at you, Newsmax.