Press releases have been a way for small businesses to brand themselves and drive interest and traffic to their websites as long as the internet has been in existence.
Those days may be coming to an end however after the big G appears to have delivered a major slap to large and small press release companies alike.
Over the last two years press release distribution companies have apparently been bending over backwards to appease Google.
1st they stiffened their terms and approval process in order to make sure the content being published was worth publishing while trying to balance actually growing their distribution business. Make it too hard to publish, lose business. Make it too easy to publish, anger Google.
Next the press release companies submitted yet again to Google and started adding the “nofollow” attribute to their releases. This subtle change should’ve made press release distribution of little value for link building purposes which should have discouraged black hat SEO’s from abusing these services.
Those black hatters are a clever bunch though and are always looking for another way to exploit Google’s algorithm, and exploit it they did.
I recently had a conversation with an employee from an online press release distribution company, their name and the company will remain anonymous for their protection. While in this conversation they disclosed that this penalty started over the keyword “garcinia cambogia”.
That’s right, an over the counter supplement may have led to the penalty!
Let me explain, this keyword gets over 800,000 organic searches per month on Google according to Semrush, this is MASSIVE traffic for one keyword. The employee told me that somehow someone created a release that ended up on page 1 for that keyword making THAT press release the most viewed release in the history of their company!
Let me say that again, with all the wonderful, viral and important press releases that this company put out in their long history their most viewed release was about a suspect OTC weight loss supplement!
I am not going to go into how, why or what black hat tactics were used to rank that release as I would rather focus on the results of this action.
Here are three different press release companies of varying sizes, notice all 3 took a HUGE hit on estimated ORGANIC search traffic according to Semrush.
Now we know that some people will do whatever it takes to generate traffic but we cannot seriously believe that these companies spammed their own releases do we? They have made several concessions in order to appease Google over the last 2 years yet they still were penalized due to the action of others. This may be part of the notorious “payday loans” algorithm update which Google says may affect .3% of all searches however you can clearly see the traffic drop to these sites is much higher than .3%.
Now I want to show you another site that is heavily spammed and manipulated. This site also accepts content from the general public and businesses, notice how it did NOT take any organic penalties. That site of course is Youtube, a Google owned property.
Who here thinks that Youtube is not spammed daily by black hatters, raise your hand…..
Furthermore I found a Youtube video ranking at the bottom of page 1 for the keyword Garcinia Cambogia so I looked at its back-links and this is what I found.
As you can see the site has 45% of its links with exact match anchor text, this is a sure sign of manipulation. If you look at some of the sites, you can see posts with exact match keywords. I whited out the video url and the back-link url’s, its not my job to fix their algorithm or search results I just wanted to point out that they seemed to escape the wrath of their own algo and avoided manual penalties.
What do you think? Do you think Google is unfairly punishing these press release companies for actions beyond their own control? What do you think of what apparently looks like Google punishing a site due to the actions of others? What do you think of Google not taking action against another heavily spammed domain, it happens to own?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.