Is Google punishing press release sites?

Is Google punishing press release sites?

Summary: The latest Google algorithm doesn't like press release distributors and traffic has plunged.

TOPICS: Censorship

Google's latest algorithm update, Panda 4.0 appears to be punishing sites that host and distribute press releases, by demoting them in its search rankings reports Barry Swartz at Search Engine Land:

"...since Panda 4.0 hit..., PR Newswire, BusinessWire and PRLog all seem to have lost significant rankings in Google."

He published a series of charts that show traffic plunging down a cliff, as much as 71% in some cases. This could become a huge problem for companies trying to distribute news and other information.

It is also affecting the distribution partners of press release sites such as Bloomberg, which are paid to host the press releases.

Foremski's Take: Last year Google warned companies not to stuff too many links and keywords into press releases or it would penalize them in its search index. Press release sites had become a favorite way for companies to boost their standing in Google's index because they are distributed to many other high-ranking web sites, creating hundreds of back-links. Google's algorithm considers links from top sites to be a sign of trust and gives those pages a high rank for specific search terms.

Google considers PR firms and other marketing companies, to be similar to its hated search engine optimization (SEO) firms because they all work to boost visibility for their clients through paid activities rather than through merit.

Google wants search results that reflect the natural, "organic" popularity of web pages because they contain useful information. Anything that is done to try to game the Google algorithm is considered against its rules of service and can result in a ban from the search index. This means that traditional PR and marketing practices fall into the SEO category, in Google's view of the world.

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Topic: Censorship

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  • Finally......

    Honestly, I have taken to using Google as a last resort, as I get a lot of these sites with useless information on them. Hopefully this will help fix that.
  • It's not about punishment, it's about a better search.

    Have you ever seen one of these sites? Spammers' paradise; hardly a genuine press release in sight - and anyone who wanted it, would have had by email anyway.

    I suspect that - other than search traffic - their total genuine visitors are close to zero. They abuse Google by making out they are providing a service - but they're really about Page Rank.

    Good Riddance, and well done Matt Cutts & the webspam team.

    Let's see the other search engines dare to follow ...
    • "Traditional PR and marketing practices" ?

      ... nothing traditional about them.

      Genuine PR is NOT about 'press release websites' - never was, never will be. It's webspam.
    • except

      except that PR sites use "nofollow" which does NOT pass page rank according to Google themselves, otherwise your deduction is spot on.

  • Bing?

    I wonder how Bing handles SEO. Never seem to see articles about it.
  • Hmm

    So expect ZDNet to disappear from Google soon?
  • For once, Google has done the right thing...

    ...for end users. Otherwise, their usual priority was paid advertisers come,first, and the rest can go to hell.

    I sincerely hope this is the beginning of a new era for Google. Maybe they finally decided to LIVE by their motto.
  • Silly

    Sooooo I thought Googles algo was supposed to be able to detect spam and good content? :)

    Anyway a few flaws in the logic I believe. Some lost 90% of organic traffic or so I would estimate, I don't believe it has ANYTHING to do with internal links on the press releases.

    Press release companies have been using the no-follow attribute for a couple of years now, according to Google there is nothing wrong with that. I believe this was a either a payday loan algo hit or a manual penalty. Here is an article I read today that shows estimated traffic graphs.