Google’s on-again/off-again relationship with press releases

Press releases can once again top results in Google News, but it’s a gift PR practitioners should use wisely, lest Google take away the privilege.

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Google has had a love-hate relationship with press releases over the years, and for good reason. A handful of online promoters and purveyors of underhanded SEO tactics exploited online press release distribution to artificially inflate website traffic and generate bogus backlinks. As a result, the webspam team at Google has taken a variety of actions against online press releases, including dropping releases from Google News, suppressing their placement on results pages and devaluing the links within releases (even legitimate ones, which happen to make up the vast majority of news that travels over commercial newswires including Business Wire, MarketWired, PR Newswire and PR Web.)

The result of Google’s machinations created a glaring problem: It was difficult if not almost impossible to track down the original, on-record message from the company issuing the news. For bloggers and journalists doing their jobs, this added layer of complication. For investors and the general public doing looking for information online, search results became murkier.

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