Google Gives Higher Priority to Press Releases

Photo of author

( — March 31, 2015)  — When a company publishes a press release on the internet, that company is relying on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! to spread the word by indexing their story, and making it available to people that are searching for related content.

According to Reuters, businesses that use online press releases will now be able to spread their stories even further as result of a little tweak by Google in its ranking formula.   As usual, Bing, Yahoo! and the other search engines are expected to soon follow suit.

Business organizations are now taking advantage of this opportunity to draw more attention to their announcements.  The change comes as result of Google ‘quietly’ altering its algorithm to increasing the presence of press releases in Google News search results, according to a Reuters article.

Not long ago, search algorithms couldn’t distinguish “advertorials” (a term used by Matt Cutts to characterize poorly crafted advertisements veiled as press releases) from legitimate company news announcements.  As a result all press releases from some of the major distributors were penalized. Some writers have abused these distributors by submitting with zero news value to in an effort to boost their own search rankings.  This practice lead to a traffic drop of at wire services, such as Business Wire,  PRNewswire, and PRWeb who failed to properly screen the content that they published on behalf of their clients.  

However, the value of distributing press releases and a business news online pushed companies to write even more. Corporations realized the real value of publicly shared information to their target audiences

Apparently, Google realized the growing value of this content, provided by companies, despite various “black hat” search engine optimizers’ endeavor to boost rankings with advertorials.  Google now ‘teaches’ their algorithm to distinguish spam from the legitimate press releases on an page by page basis, once again giving more authority to media outlets. Reuters reported it was done ‘quietly’ because the move was directly opposite, from what the head of Google’s web spam team Matt Cutts stated a couple of years before.

In an article on Business 2 Community website, author James Gerber stated that corporate announcements tend to portray their own news in the best possible light, adding that even independent journalists sometimes have biased opinions. Sloppy journalists often use a company’s official statement as the sole source of information in an article.

Gerber explained  Google’s reasons behind the change by quoting Google’s representative, “The goal of search is to get users the right answer at any one time as quickly as possible – that may mean returning an article from an established publisher or from a smaller niche publisher or indeed it might be a press release.”

Referring to last year’s Panda 4.0 update on incentive of quality content writing, Gerber argued that the change shouldn’t be seen as “volume over the content” measure. Instead, the change is that the story, not the source, “will increasingly drive its visibility on Google.”

So as Gerber asks, “Is your brand producing content worth reading?”   If not, it’s time to do something about it.