Online Press Releases and SEO in the Post-Panda Era

SEO-Search-Social-Media-PRIn the good old days of SEO (2010), cranking out an endless supply of online press releases was standard operating procedure.

Whether or not it was newsworthy, whether or not it was well written, and whether or not it provided any useful information at all, the online press release provided something of undeniable value: inbound links.

Knowing press releases were an easy way to generate links, spammers and well-meaning but overzealous SEO practitioners flooded online news services with content that was far from newsworthy. To meet the explosive demand, online services sprung up with editorial standards that were liberal, to say the least.

From Google’s point of view, no news was bad news.

Today’s guest post is by Brad Shorr, @bradshorr on twitter.

And so the value equation was changed.

Rolled out in February 2011, Google’s “Panda” algorithm update (so named for Google engineer Navneet Panda) was a major step in Google’s broad strategy of rewarding high quality content and penalizing spam.

As a result of this update and a number of other algorithm tweaks, links from online press releases are not as valuable as they once were.

This is a welcome development. With Google placing greater emphasis on quality, companies that publish useful information enjoy higher rankings, meaning that companies disseminating genuine news stand a better chance of reaching people who care.

If SEOs – and businesses – are smart, they will adapt to the post-Panda world by being extremely selective in what and where they publish. By limiting their press releases to actual news, companies offer something of real value to customers, prospects and stakeholders. Google recognizes this and rewards the content with higher rankings. The company, the searcher and the reader all win.

Right now we are in transition. Not everyone understands the new rules, so we continue to see content farm-quality releases and skeptical searchers. However, as time goes on SEOs will turn their attention to more productive techniques, and online press release quality will continue to improve. When readers recognize the change, press releases will be able to do a better job of generating brand awareness, leads and new business.

Furthermore, as content quality gains the upper hand over content quantity, Google will continue to increase the value of press release links. And then, he said cynically, we can start the process all over again …

But that’s the future. What can companies do today to manage their press release program?

  1. Cut back on volume. If it’s not newsworthy, don’t publish it.
  2. If you reduce your press release output, don’t reduce your budget; instead, reinvest in other, more productive PR or marketing activities. A slow economy necessitates as much promotional activity as you can possibly muster!
  3. If you don’t have news, make some! Perhaps the new SEO landscape is just the catalyst you need to bring something fresh and exciting to the market.
  4. In the eyes of Google not all press release services are created equal, so be careful where you publish. High caliber distribution platforms deliver much better link value than lesser ones.
  5. Continue to apply good SEO practices to your leaner and meaner press release content. Optimization may matter less, but it still matters.

Today’s guest post is by Brad Shorr, @bradshorr on twitter.

Want more information on Google’s Panda? Here’s a video about how Google’s Panda update changed SEO best practices forever for you.

And, if you came here looking for Po the panda, check out Kung Fu Panda’s Marketing Mastermind Moves.

What’s your take on this topic?

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