Google Warns Not to Use Press Releases for SEO

Take care when using online press releases as part of your SEO program. They’ve long been promoted as a way to build SEO-friendly inbound links, even though Google made it clear some time ago that, no, those links don’t count for SEO any longer.

Now Google has gone a step further and warned via a recent update to their Webmaster Guidelines that they may be interpreted as part of a link scheme and therefore hurt your SEO.

There are a number of items that come under the definition of “link schemes,” but all refer to links intended to manipulate page rank or a site’s ranking in Google search results. In the case of online press releases, Google warns that “links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines.”

Included in this category is “Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.” Google’s example of optimized anchor text is:

There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.

You can try to avoid the optimized link trigger by using“natural” anchor text. That is, text you would use if you weren’t optimzing, such as “this video,” “this article,” or the once-maligned  “click here.”

But that probably won’t be enough without Google’s other suggestion: use the ”nofollow” attribute in the link tag, or redirect the link to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engine indexing using the robots.txt file.

That, of course, makes the links from the press release useless for SEO, which, of course, is the point.


About Lee Stral

Lee is a marketing consultant who has specialized in Internet marketing and Web site development since the Internet first showed promise as a marketing channel. Prior to founding Essential Presence, he was partner in an integrated marketing communications agency working with technology, professional service and non-profit organizations.