I was recently reading an article put out by Search Engine Land entitled entitled “Did Google Panda 4.0 Go After Press Release Sites?” and without even the very revealing statistics on the drop of traffic they suffered, I would have answered with an astounding “yes”.  Google algorithm updates have historically been about sites not taking an easy route for building links, reputation, and optimization.  Years ago, sites would rank for simply flooding their meta information with keywords they wanted.  Then came keyword stuffing and cloaking.  Next came buying thousands of links from garbage sites and heavily duplicated directories.

Here we are in 2014, where Google is sophisticated enough to sniff out junk based on site authority and overwhelming outbound links, it gets a little more tricky to build reputable links without the effort.  In comes the press release, where admittedly when I centered an entire marketing campaign around releasing several of them a month, I was initially very excited.  Essentially, the concept was releasing news-worthy articles that would be picked up around the nation by local news sites, and they would in return the precious natural links to your site that everyone works tirelessly for.

The idea was right, but the actual result is iffy.  It turns out that a lot of press release related links act as if they’re no follow.  Many of the sites that supposedly say they return the link, such as Miami Herald and Boston Globe, actually are somehow embedded within the subdomain of another.  Here’s an example:


It seems a bit odd that it claims to be distributed by Miami Herald, but it is clearly FinancialContent.com.  So what merit would a press release still hold?

  • They’re still distributed to media groups whether you’re expecting them to link back or not.
  • They still get indexed under Google News pretty well for those searches, and often make their way to the typical web search
  • They are solid for including within press and media kits
  • They are easily integrated into newsletters, blogs, social, and press sections of websites

It wouldn’t be surprising for press releases offered by PRlog, PRweb, and other PR websites to begin dropping the cost of their services based on the fact that the SEO implications are slowly evaporating.  As stated in the press releases, Google has done a ton of algorithm work as far as site optimization and legitimate links go – they’ve been working on the “thinness” of content for quite sometime.  Press Release websites were positioned in a way where they had earned credibility for years and were, in a way, able to extend that credibility to businesses at a cost.  Google has taken steps to penalize these actions, and it is obvious because of their anti “pay to play” stance.

It seems reasonable not to be able to expect links from New York Times and AP if you pay 350 bucks for a deluxe article.  The art of link building and garnering site reputation just gets more and more complex.  Though there are still plenty of reasons for press releases, expecting high quality links and an SEO impact seems drastically less likely.

Want to know more about press releases and if they’re still a good fit for you?  Contact our experts at Market My Market today for a free consultation.