Google Schools the PR Industry

Google schools the PR industry

A few weeks ago I wrote about how the Google Panda 4.0 update was affecting PR content.

One of the major effects of the Panda 4.0 update was the date-coincident drop in page views on newswire websites.  Several SEO experts opined that the reason for this drop was the proliferation of “spammy” press release content on these newswire websites.

PR Newswire has responded with a statement that they will be taking action against spammers posting “thin” content to their service. However, the statement in effect also acknowledges that there has been spammy content on their site.

“These guidelines are designed to reduce the distribution of low quality content over PR Newswire’s distribution network and the exploitation of press releases on its website to artificially manipulate search rankings.  Additionally, PR Newswire has taken steps recently to identify and remove low quality content from its website.”

Recommended press release content quality factors

Under the new copy quality guidelines, PR Newswire editorial staff will review press releases for a number of message elements, including:

  • Inclusion of insightful analysis and original content (e.g. research, reporting or other interesting and useful information);

  • Use of varied release formats, guarding against repeated use of templated copy (except boilerplate);

  • Assessing release length, guarding against issue of very short, unsubstantial messages that are mere vehicles for links;

  • Overuse of keywords and/or links within the message.

It’s a sad comment on the state of the PR industry when a search engine has to teach us how to write press releases.  Every first-year PR student should know that a press release must have newsworthy content, original reporting and offer value to the reader.

PR Newswire and other wire services know this.  They should have been policing the quality of the releases on the wire long before Google wielded the big Panda stick.


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