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So you have some exciting news to share with the world. Maybe it’s the launch of a new website or a new development at your company. What better place to share it than the Internet, right?

Well, the answer is not exactly a resounding “yes.” The caveat here is that if the information on your press release ends up on the wrong website, it could have detrimental effects on your business by putting your website’s search ranking in serious jeopardy. How, you ask?

It All Has to Do With a Penguin

If you’ve been following the Blink;Tech blog, you should be pretty familiar with Google’s “Hummingbird” algorithm. What we haven’t talked about yet is Google’s other avian-monikered mathematical search ranking procedure, “Penguin.” We’ll get into the details of the Penguin algorithm update in a future post, but for now what you need to know is this: Hummingbird looks at web content, site authority, and link structures to move quality websites with good organic (not paid) content up the search ranking. Penguin is the part of the Hummingbird algorithm that penalizes sites aiming to trick the algorithm. These sites are typically link farms, spam sites, or sites that have copious amounts of paid-for content; Penguin in turn makes these sites pay for bad practices by moving them far down the search ranking.

Guilt by Association

Included in almost every modern press release is a link to a website, and that link’s purpose is to find its way onto a popular website that will drive traffic through that link. Even if a press release promotes something in the real world, such as an event at a physical business location, most everyone includes a link to the associated website.

By now you’re probably starting to see the dangers involved in paying a service to spread your press release around the Internet. If your press release information (and that link to your website) ends up on any website (or many websites) that Penguin sees as a link farm, your linked association to that site could drag you down the search rankings with it.

The Advertorial Alternative

Similar to paid PR services are other services that, for a fee, will write what are basically long-form advertisements about your business that are carefully (or not so carefully) camouflaged as articles. Without getting into the ethics of this gray area between journalism and advertising, the main danger for anyone paying for this sort of content has to do with where the story ends up. Like the PR services mentioned above, if an advertorial service has a set chain of linked websites they use, you could find your website rankings heading south to the ice-cold land of the penguin.

So how do you get the word out on the web about your business?

Keep the Birds Happy

The goal of a press release should always be to provide information to legitimate news outlets that will decide if the story fits their editorial model. And quality content is not just important to journalists; it is also what Google wants to provide as a search engine. With this in mind, you should carefully disseminate any news about (and links leading to) your business to well-vetted, credible websites where that news is a good fit.

It should be noted that there are many paid PR services that are exceptionally valuable and specialize in disseminate your information to credible and appropriate websites. These services generally charge quite a bit of money to do this, the reason being is that it is a phenomenal amount of work. The bottom line? Paying a higher rate to the right professional web promotion agency could be the best money you ever spent; trying to save money by hiring the wrong PR service could be the worst thing that ever happened to your business. “Vetting” is the key word here.

Tips for Hiring a Web Press Release Service

  1. Make sure you are dealing with an actual human being that you can contact at any time. This is a very personal business (like having a Hollywood agent) and you want to keep things on a more personal level.
  2. Quality over quantity. If a service promises to deliver thousands of links to your website in a short amount of time, run for the hills. If they say they have a few major websites that might be interested in your press release, then you’re probably dealing with a more professional and credible outlet.
  3. If you get a large amount of traffic from a service, consult with your website administrator or developer to examine where that traffic comes from. Much of it could be from news services evaluating a press release for a story — which isn’t bad, but not as good as traffic from potential customers interested in your business. Either way, you should know how people are discovering your site.
  4. Most good PR services will start with your local Internet magazine or newspaper website. News about a local business or a local business owner is generally of some interest to that community. Local content will appeal to local editors and they deal with a smaller, more targeted audience.
  5. If the agency offers you writing services, look at the copy they are producing. Find out where it ends up and make sure the same piece isn’t on many different websites. Google is big on websites having unique content, so every story on the web about you or your business should be different.
  6. Lastly, if you do hire a service, have your website administrator provide you with a list of links coming into your website and check each one to make sure they are on the up-and-up. If you start seeing duplicate stories, badly-written content, or web pages with an inordinate amount of links on them, ask for your links to be removed and discontinue the service immediately.

Here at Blink;Tech, we specialize in the production of high-quality, unique, and strategic web content. We’re passionate about crafting strong and vibrant Internet presences for our clients, and we help amplify our clients’ message through engaging blogs, social media marketing, beautiful print advertising, and other channels that benefit each client’s individual business model. When it comes to media releases, our advice is very simple: Make sure every aspect and association of your web presence brings value to the Internet. Your press release is an invitation to journalists to explore a story idea, not a quick way to get links to your site. Remember that you always want to fly with the hummingbird rather than waddle with the penguin.

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