New Google algorithms have been widely predicted to kill PR agencies. We disagree. On the contrary, we believe that this change is a boon for good PR.
The new webmaster guidelines issued by Google affects optimised anchor text for link building within online news releases. Google states, “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”It specifically points to links with optimised anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites which is not good SEO practice.
Think of how Interflora fell foul of Google early this year in the buildup to Valentine’s Day. They bought ad features in regional newspapers containing links to their site in a way that was seen by Google as an attempt to artificially manipulate its search rankings. The result was that Interflora stopped appearing in search results.
In the same way, Google is now flagging any unnatural surge in popularity of a piece of content caused by placing press releases on free websites with link backs to your website to increase page ranking. It states that you must, “create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community.”
There is a growing cohort of ‘online PR experts’ who think that PR is the process of scoring links from sites that carry unedited press releases.
This is absolutely untrue. The job of a PR agency is to tell stories that ensure that clients are perceived in the best light possible by the public and that their message is delivered to the right audience in the right place.
SEO is a key consideration too. As an industry, we are becoming digital marketing experts and absolutely understand the need for businesses to embrace social media and other online media, and to generate good links back to their websites. We focus clients on ways they can encourage links from high domain authority sites, without falling foul of Google.
Using free websites to upload press releases does create link backs to your company’s website, however, from a credibility point of view, if a person is seeking an honest, reliable view of your company, an article written by a well respected, independent journalist is worth infinitely more and can significantly influence a reader’s opinion. Remember, it is not all about what is on your own site. What other well respected media – including online versions of high authority national papers such as Irish Times - say about you is at least as important as what people perceive from your own site.
The obituary column is unlikely to be featuring the PR industry just yet.