TAMPA, Fla. – Prepare for your minds to be blown, gentle readers, for I believe I am about to impart some knowledge on you that you likely haven’t read elsewhere.
Remember the devastating blow Google Penguin dealt the SEO world when it determined links from article and press release distribution websites no longer would be counted as quality inbound links? A way for you to combat that may soon come to a newspaper website near you.
Newspaper design firm Creative Circle Media Solutions has created a digital portal that participating newspapers can add to their websites. It provides a mechanism for people to submit their press releases in hope of reporters seeing them and turning those press releases into published articles.
However, posting press releases via this system can prove beneficial to businesses even if a reporter does nothing with the information. For a fee (which varies among the handful of newspapers in the U.S. who are using this system), you can insert hyperlinks into your press release and have it publish immediately in the newspaper’s portal. You can see a sample of what I’m talking about on the Tampa Bay Times website.
The URL from your press release includes the newspaper’s URL, which we know is valued by Google. That means you get links from high-authority newspaper websites.
Although I love the idea of this new capability, I have some serious concerns. I’ll outline two for you:
1. This system is ripe for abuse.
Anyone, anywhere can pay to post a press release to a participating newspaper’s website, says Bill Ostendorf, founder of Creative Circle Media Solutions. That means if you’re a dentist in Seattle and you’re willing to pay to post a press release on the Tampa Bay Times portal, you can. But what value does that add to Tampa residents who may happen upon this release? And while this will build valuable links to your website, let’s think of what should be the intended purpose. Will it gain you more patients? I have my doubts.
2. A Google smack-down could await participating newspapers.
I have two words for you: Forbes and Newsday. Google isn’t afraid to “drop the ban hammer,” as Ryan Clark eloquently puts it on Linkbuildr.com in an article about big brands Google has penalized. If Google will bust Forbes and Newsday for gaming the system, I’m convinced no newspaper is off limits.
To all you SEO pros out there, I beg of you: please don’t abuse this system. This can be a valuable tool from a public relations and an SEO standpoint. Use it wisely. Take my advice on how to do that:
That’s right. Wait for this press release posting ability to come to a newspaper near you, instead of posting press releases to sites on the other side of the country. It will uphold the integrity of this tool and it’ll make more sense to readers who happen upon the releases you post.
2. Write quality press releases.
Stop writing the month-to-month crap you churn out for your clients just for the sake of adding new content to their sites. Think about what your client is doing that is newsworthy. Write about that and post it to these newspaper portals.
If you don’t heed my warnings, you’re going to ruin it for everyone. This link building mechanism may work for a while. Honestly, I hope it works permanently. But if Google determines at some point these newspaper sites have compromised their integrity and they deem this posting and link building ability as a black-hat SEO technique, you and I both know what you’ll spend the next several weeks doing – provided you’re the least bit concerned about your clients’ websites. You’ll be disavowing the crap out of all these links you’ve spent months accumulating.
Use it wisely, and everyone wins.
Image credit: NS Newsflash at Flickr