Google Updates: Press Releases and In-Depth Articles

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How can you encourage visits, engagement and even links to your site, the right way?  By building quality content for all of your channels – including traditional media like press releases – and by taking advantage of new opportunities for article markup.

In the past two years, link building tactics have come under increased scrutiny, and websites with irrelevant inbound links have been demoted in search results. 

Brands with robust social programs in place are well-positioned to increase referral traffic and sharing via their various platforms, and Google rewards websites that offer quality, sharable, shared content. But what if you’re not yet up to speed in social? How can you increase visits, engagement and even links, the right way?  By building quality content for all of your channels, including traditional media like press releases.

Press releases still present an outstanding opportunity to share company news, generate interest in a new product, and encourage visitors to come to your website for more information. But Google’s latest Link Schemes update focusing on optimized anchor text in press releases has many marketers running scared. Fear not! When created and executed properly, press releases are still valuable tools in an online marketing mix.

“Build Content, Not Links”
Google has ignored links in press releases for quite some time – they have no positive impact on search visibility as they are not part of the PageRank algorithm. The most recent Link Schemes update has prompted press release services like PRWeb’s VOCUS to add rel=nofollow attributes to all distribution links from PRWeb.com – to protect themselves, as well as their customers.

It’s important to note that Google Link Schemes announcement pertains only to optimized anchor text in press releases that are being distributed by a news service. Link anchor text in press releases that reside on your website can and should be optimized with keywords that describe what the visitor can expect to find on the linked page. The visitor is already on your site – you’re not trying to lure them in.

Best Practices for Press Releases
Press releases are typically sent to media professionals like editors and reporters. Although your release goes to these media outlets first, they are not your intended final audience, and you should always direct your message to your prospective customer. The editor is a gatekeeper. Like the search engines, they want to provide their customers/readers with a good experience. If your release is timely and informative, chances are good that it will be published.

You can further improve your odds of getting in front of your desired audience by following a few best practices for press releases.

  • Tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. Find a way to grab the reader’s attention with your headline, provide more detail in the body of the release, and always end with a call to action.
  • Convey the key points from your release in the subhead. Often, the only material that will be visible to someone seeing your release online will be the headline, subhead and an image. Provide enough information to make the reader want to click through and read more.
  • Use quotes to increase interest and engagement.
  • Add images and video to increase interest and break up text. Be sure to optimize multimedia with alt text, captions and tags.
  • Use an appropriate number of links, and make sure your first link is in the first paragraph of text if possible. Link to deep pages of your site – not just the home page. Bring the reader to content that is relevant to the overall story in your release. Given Google’s distaste for optimized anchor text, link text like “click here for more information” is suitable for releases that are being distributed by a news service.
  • If you’re active in social, invite readers to comment about the release on your social platforms.
  • Always end with a call to action. As you’re writing press releases, have a goal in mind for your reader. You want the reader to take action – don’t make them guess what you want them to do.

When done well, and distributed to the right people and publications, press releases can be a powerful lead generation tool. If you have a story to tell or news to share, this old school tactic still has a valid place in your marketing plan.

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In-Depth Content Can Be Found More Easily with Article Markup
New opportunities to help your high-quality content gain visibility in search are popping up every day. On August 6, Google provided direction around markup language for in-depth articles based on schema.org article markup. Google found that “up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic.” The new search results should help users more easily find in-depth articles.

“These results are ranked algorithmically based on many signals that look for high-quality, in-depth content,” writes Google’s Pandu Nayak. “You can help our algorithms understand your pages better by following these recommendations:”

  • use schema.org “article” markup, 
  • provide authorship markup,
  • rel=next and rel=prev for paginated articles (also watch out for common rel=canonical mistakes), 
  • provide information about your organization’s logo,
  • and of course, create compelling in-depth content.

Read Nayak’s full post on in-depth articles here.

Google Scholar – Ideal for B2B

Google also provides explicit instructions for authors and publishers interested in having their scholarly articles indexed and available on Google Scholar. B2B companies typically have a wealth of white papers, case studies and other materials that can be turned into content gold dust, given the right formatting and proper placement on a website. We’ll provide some insight and guidance in a future post on best practices for scholarly articles and how B2B companies can benefit.

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