Most of you have likely heard the news that Google updated their webmaster rules on links and keywords in press releases. Tom Foremski at ZDNet thinks this is going to create serious problems for PR agencies that add links and repeat words in press releases to drive traffic to clients’ sites.
Foremski states that PR agencies face three big problems:
- Their current and former clients could become very upset with them because of perfectly acceptable prior PR practices designed to promote their business — instead of the viral, organic growth based on happy customers, which is what Google now wants to see.
- PR agencies could be held liable for the damage they caused to the online reputation of client businesses through the execution of normal practices. It could lead to legal action and compensation claims on millions of dollars in lost sales.
- PR agencies have to wake up to the fact that Google is now their competitor. How do they promote a client when Google punishes any form of paid online promotion? Good luck with that one.
I know I’m not alone here when I state that, I don’t find this threatening to the results that we produce for our clients. Although there is a stigma that in PR all we do is distribute press releases, there is a lot more to this practice and the people behind it. Public Relations firms large or small, employ a very talented group of people who enjoy writing and are good at it, some even employ ex-journalists themselves. Within PR, we make each clients’ messages relevant to the audience they are looking to address. We at times even step in as the client themselves taking over their social channels and getting out the message they want into the world – and most of the time we do this without including multiple links and repeat words in our content.
PR in itself is some of the best marketing that companies can get. PR agencies know the trade publications, we know the business press and we know who writes about what and what they’re likely to cover. This gives us an incredible upper hand when working with upper management and C-level executives that employ our services. Most of the time, they simply do not have the background knowledge to know whom to reach out to and what to discuss. This is not a hard sell on you have five minutes to tell me everything about your product. We schedule the interviews and garner the interest by being clairvoyant in what the topic will address. As VentureBeat noted prior, the best buzz generator for media is to simply be yourself and tell your story – everyone else’s story has already been told, no need to try to be the next (insert company name here).
When we work with our clients we look not only at how to get the recent announcement the most pick-up via press release distribution. No; we look at the inherent mechanisms of the entire PR program. We discuss goals, metrics, quarterly and yearly dos and don’ts and work to educate our clients on the key factors we’ll need from them in order to give them measurable results that meet their expectations.
So will Google’s new rule that can actually punish companies that include too many keywords in the same article or insert links throughout hurt our work? There is some potential in that. But likely PR professionals will continue driving engagement with the media and delivering compelling content whose quality will likely speak for itself, and its SEO results.