I’m sure most of you saw a piece written by Tom Foremski on ZDNet last week that led with the headline “Did Google just kill PR agencies?” This was in response to the changes that Google has made to its webmaster rules on links and keywords in press releases.
In essence, if you load a press release with anchor words you will be penalised. If you post content such as the same press release with backlinks on multiple sites you will also be penalised.
Does this kill PR agencies? Only the lazy ones in my view. In fact I actually think it gives more power to a PR agency with top-level contacts and the ability to secure top level coverage with great content.
The ones that I think who will be scared are newswire distribution agencies. One of the big selling points for putting a press release on a newswire for the past few years has been the SEO value of doing so. By posting your press release on a newswire with a few backlinks you could help your SEO campaign by generating links with content created by your PR team (Watch this space for a response from the newswires tomorrow).
Now if you include links you will be punished unless they are unfollow links. This does however raise a couple of questions as to the value of newswires bar simply noise.
At Berkeley PR we never count newswire coverage as coverage. Why? Because any idiot can pay between £250-£1k to get your press release cut and pasted onto a few news sites but will anyone actually read them? Probably not, because they are clearly just a cut and paste job.
We use newswire for noise to let the market see that a client is being busy – set off a few Google alerts and to help with SEO strategies but this is obviously about to change and will be advising our clients appropriately.
Google is now looking for unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the internet community. This is what public relation professionals have been doing for years. Build relations with the right journalists and they will write some unique content about you on their site. Alternatively, you have to produce some great content that is unique to a site. This has always been more powerful than a press release being cut and pasted onto a few non-descript websites that no-one reads.
Tom ended his article saying that how do PR agencies promote a client when Google punishes any form of paid online promotion? Er…isn’t that advertising? Any PR agency that is paying for coverage is a waste of space in my view.
PR agencies that help introduce and nurture great coverage opportunities and generate content that is both thought provoking and original will prosper. PR agencies that position themselves as SEO providers will struggle.
On our own site, we talk about understanding the relationship between the content created by a PR campaign and the work a trusted SEO partner should be doing. This is more important now than ever before to ensure that Google doesn’t think you are trying to trick their spiders. A lot of PR agencies give their content to the SEO partner to be placed far and wide. This will have to be managed more carefully moving forward and the relationship between PR and SEO agency needs to be far closer than ever before.
It is also important to also take a step back and remind people that PR agencies do more than just online work. It is obviously very important but so is broadcast (TV and radio), hardcopy coverage in both newspapers and magazines, exhibition work and stunts. All of these need to be managed carefully and are vital to any lead generation/brand awareness campaign that a business conducts.
Now more than ever PR is about quality rather than quantity, which is simply music to my ears.