The fallout from Google’s latest search engine algorithm update, Google Panda 4.0, continues unabated. The newswies have been the most recent casualty to emerge from this latest “content update” that targets content Google perceives to be ‘low quality and thin’. According to research conducted by Barry Schwartz, PRWeb, PR Newswire, Business Wire and PRLog lost between 60% to 85% of their SEO visibility overnight!
These latest statistics show that the update is likely to have a particularly profound effect on the way some PR agencies work in terms of how they distribute news.
Getting PR Right
As a technology public relations professional having press releases considered ‘spammy’ is obviously something to avoid. But on closer inspection, many press releases really do not contain anything that a journalist or a customer would find useful. For such releases the only chance of seeing any publication is via a newswire service. However, if that just means they end up on the newswire website rather than being used by journalists is that really achieving the objective? Especially if such tactics don’t even contribute to SEO.
Don’t get us wrong – newswires have their place but, like any other channel, they are only as good as the content they carry. And for a B2B technology company, that content needs to be created by technology PR professionals that can understand and clearly communicate what is important about even the most complex products and services in language that both editors and customers find useful.
Once the content is created, it is not enough to rely only on wire services for distribution. Many editors in the technical and trade press, for example, don’t subscribe to these services and prefer to receive information that is matched to their specific requirements., That’s why I was drawn to working at an agency like Pinnacle, where significant time and resource has been invested into developing and maintaining accurate, targeted contact lists that cover every segment of the technology arena, including electronics, engineering, telecoms, defence and life sciences.
These lists have a number of advantages: we actually know who we are sending press releases to and can tailor messages based on the needs of individual journalists. It also means we can quickly identify suitable media for a given topic and go beyond the press release – for example by working with relevant media outlets to publish more in-depth articles.
In-depth articles deliver the ‘double whammy’ of giving the reader much more information than could be found in a simple press release while making a positive contribution to SEO by satisfying Google’s requirement for longer, more in-depth materials. Even niche media sites tend to rank strongly in Google and, as I wrote in a previous blog on the Pinnacle website, even if they don’t provide direct links back to your website, they still provide some powerful link juice to your search engine optimisation efforts.
Other than ensuring you are creating the right content for journalists and editors and distributing it in the most efficient way, what else does the update mean for the public relations and marketing communications professional?
Don’t post duplicate content
The Panda 4.0 hammered sites that contained duplicate content. Marketing communications professionals are often tasked with re-purposing content from articles and press releases into blog posts, infographics, Slideshares and the like. While this is still a good idea as different people prefer to consume content in different formats, it is important to make sure that you use different headlines and text and that your website only contains each piece of content once. Click here, to read more about avoiding the duplicate content trap.
Plagiarism is bad. We all learned that at school and at university and now Google wants to continue that fine tradition by penalising it on the web. Now there is nothing wrong with quoting others, in fact linking to other people’s work (as I have down earlier in this piece when quoting research by Barry Schwartz) is a good thing for the person you are quoting as it gives them valuable link juice and adds credibility to your data.
Write longer articles with less links
Those of us that have been writing for the web for a while have often been told to keep written work short. While working as a tech journalist, if an article was longer than 500 words my editor would often say that the extra words were wasted. Now, there were times that developing a complex concept couldn’t be done in less than 500 words, and so often 1200 word articles (and sometimes longer) could be ‘squeezed’ past approval.
This has all changed now, with longer form content actually ranking more favourably than shorter form content. Even this blog at close to 1000 words, doesn’t quite hit the ‘thick’ content mark that Google now craves!
And while adding in a few links to internal pages of relevance is still a good idea as it improves user experience, don’t saturate the page with internal links as that just makes the whole page look spammy.
Still worried about Panda?
If you are still concerned about the latest algorithm changes, there are a number of things you can do. If you have already installed website tracking software, you can measure how much traffic your website is getting from Google – if it’s gone down, then a good first step would be to follow the advice above.
If you don’t have time to or resource to make the required changes, or are not sure if you even need to, why not download our eBook that describes how Google has changed, and what you need to do about it.
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