If you’ve written and distributed an online press release, you’ve probably taken some additional steps to optimize your content for higher SEO visibility, much like you would with any other form of digital content. The kicker? You might be unintentionally violating Google’s guidelines and tanking your search visibility.
Earlier this year, Google quietly updated its Webmaster Guidelines Link Schemes document, which highlights the types of linking that can negatively impact search results. One tactic to avoid? Placing “links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.” Google describes these “unnatural links” as “links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page.”
So what does this mean in practical terms? Let’s take a look at an example from Google:
Other examples of unnatural links include text advertisements that pass PageRank, advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank and links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites. I don’t know about you, but I hate those.
Here’s the kicker. When you’re considering what links to include in a digital press release, it’s key to understand the difference between navigational links and transactional links. Bruce Clay does a great job explaining that in his post: Press Release understand the difference between navigational links and transactional links.
Bruce Clay explains this nicely, “Navigational links use anchor text of a domain name or a company name or ‘click here,’” writes Bruce Clay. “They point to an entity. Transactional links use keywords in the anchor text, passing some additional information in the link.” For more on this topic, read Four Experts Weigh in After Google Calls Foul on ‘Optimized Anchor Text’ in Releases.
Continuing to stuff your press releases (or guest posts, for that matter) with keyword links will likely have a negative impact on your SEO. So please, just stop it. It’s spammy, it makes you and your company look bad and if any marketing or PR guru is telling you to do this, or if this is a tactic they are doing for themselves, they’re giving you bad advice.
The way forward is to be real. Add natural links in your content, press releases or otherwise, which lead to useful, contextually relevant information your website or elsewhere, not as a way to improve your search rankings. Those days are over. Think of linking as providing value to your readers. Period.
One thing’s for certain: with Google around, things are never boring. On the heels of the latest announcement about keywords not provided, there’s no doubt that SEO professionals and marketers will need to change the way they work, which is not a bad thing. The focus in the future will center on page quality and good content, rather than keywords.
And as a final note–if it’s not news, it’s not worthy of a press release. The sheer numbers of people using press releases as “fake news” in an effort to game Google is part of what led to their demise. What do you think?