The Standing Dog content team, in concert with our in-house SEO experts, writes and distributes hundreds of press releases for our clients every year. When Google recently announced that all press releases are required to have nofollow tags attached to all hyperlinks, we acted quickly not only to ensure our process reflected these new guidelines but used the opportunity to refocus our efforts on writing for people rather than search engines.
Google first notified the public of these changes in an update to the webmaster guidelines at the end of July. A reflection of Google’s continued effort to crack down on individuals purchasing links to manipulate influence on the Web, press releases and other pay-to-play posts like advertorials were officially pronounced anathema.
In an interview with SEO Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz, Google’s John Mueller explained that press releases are considered little more than advertorials and thus had to be stripped of any ability to pass influence. Mueller said links are still allowed to be in press releases, but they must have nofollow tags attached or they could be subject to a Google penalty.
Does this mean the online press release is dead? Absolutely not. Google even acknowledges that these are a good tool to reach people. If a third party chooses to write an article or post a comment because of what is read in a press release, that citation has SEO value. It all comes back to writing content for people and not search engines.
Write For People, Not Search Engines
As they have been doing for years now, Google is encouraging marketers to distribute content about meaningful topics instead of producing information simply to gain rankings. The injunction against followed links in press releases reinforces this.
For those in the hospitality industry, engaging topics will most likely center on:
- Key personnel changes
- Community involvement and charitable events
- Accolades and awards received
- Renovations and changes to the establishment
For the last month, Standing Dog’s content team has been working even closer with account managers to make sure press release topics are newsworthy before pitching them to our hotel clients. Since Aug. 1, the team has produced quality content worth sharing on topics including:
- Hotels winning TripAdvisor awards. Because TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel website, these Certificates of Excellence that were presented to our clients are something to brag about — and something that could convert travelers into hotel guests.
- The influence of Marriott opening a Courtyard hotel in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico. With international travel slowly picking up as the U.S. economy strengthens, our team felt this was a timely and informative topic.
- Completed and upcoming renovations at multiple Marriott properties. Getting visitors and potential guests excited about new features and amenities can help generate great buzz on social channels.
Assuming the content is meaningful, social media will continue to be an excellent channel through which to share press releases. The content should be appealing anyway to real people, and every business will want these engaged followers to know about the great things going on.
Standing Dog’s Action Steps
To avoid any negative impact on our clients, we’ve pursued the following course of action that we’re confident will result in effective press releases without the concern of a Google penalty.
- We immediately contacted our press release distributor and were able to confirm that all would be syndicated with nofollow links. We will continue to work with PRWeb to ensure any of Google’s changes don’t negatively impact our clients.
- We are ensuring that our clients’ social teams know about press releases and are queued up to share them with their followers through Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.
- We plan to reach out to local media and bloggers where appropriate to tell them about the newsworthy content in our press releases.
Your news is worth distributing, so make sure all the details are accessible via links in your press releases. But make sure your distribution service is playing by Google’s rules or it could come back to negatively impact your site down the road.