Businesses using digital press releases as an integral part of their web presence now risk penalties from Google, according to digital marketing specialist Darren Moloney, managing director of Highworth-based online marketing consultancy All Things Web.
Savvy companies have for some time been using online press releases, among other techniques, to optimise their website ranking. This is widely accepted as a useful component of a larger organic link-building strategy, and as such haw been successfully employed by a number of SMEs to compete with much larger competitors by intelligent online marketing, says Darren.
But Google recently changed its position and now companies publishing press releases, articles or guest blogs on their websites and distributing them through a paid-for wire service must make sure that all links are ‘nofollow’ if they are part of the anchor text.
Failing to do this could mean that a company website loses its page ranking as a result of penalties imposed by Google, explained Darren.
“The press release has moved from its original purpose in the pre-digital age, which was to give journalists information about the activities of a company,” he said.
“More recently, online releases have provided a means for companies to engage directly with customers and influencers, such as bloggers, thereby generating inbound links. Now press releases have come full circle.
“Google still accepts the validity of information generated by a company and validated by a third party, such as a journalist, but is terming links in directly-generated press releases
‘unnatural’, akin to advertising, and therefore not as valuable as traditional media relations coverage.”
The change means that while releases can still be used to drive site traffic, spark interest in a company’s products and services among bloggers and journalists, educate and inform, build relationships, and report on activities, they can no longer be stuffed full of keywords and optimised anchor text links without risking the wrath of Google.
The real unknown about the new ruling, added Darren, is what Google’s response will be to companies who historically have used anchor text links extensively? Are they required to trawl back in time to exorcise such links from all the material they have issued in the past in order to avoid penalties?
“What is certain is that companies will have to ensure all links in online press releases be set to ‘nofollow’ in the future,” he said
Over the past 10 years All Things Web has been improving rankings and traffic to business websites along the M4 corridor.