Ezine Articles and press releases have long been utilized by SEO professionals for building backlinks. In late July 2013, news broke that links should be no followed in press releases. Right around this same time, Google also mentioned that if you are guest blogging for links this could be a violation of their guidelines.
Apparently, the Google folks meant what they said. Now, Google has supplied example backlinks from Ezine Articles and a press release in Webmaster Tools. These are examples of links which Google felt were against its quality guidelines. You can see this notification below.
As you can see, there is a link pointing at the website from Ezine Articles. This link was created in early 2012. There is also a link listed that came from a press release which was picked up on a very poor news website. Both the press release and the article have anchor text for keywords.
This is the first time I have seen a press release or Ezine Article being listed as a bad backlink. I know a large percentage of websites online have links from these sources or similar sources, but I highly doubt everyone will get a bad link notification. It does appear, for some reason or another, that Google is giving this individual website a hard time.
I must admit, this situation frustrates me a little. We generally like to do press releases on new products and things relating to a company’s website, and, when it makes sense, we link to the site. In light of this new development, we have become more particular about how we link to websites. Furthermore, I love Ezine Articles. I have plenty of articles on there and I am sure many of the readers of this site do too.
I am sure many SEO professionals are wondering, “Where do we draw the line? Can we link to products with their name? Can we link to categories with a general name of the products we sell in them? Can we link to anything in any way?” :)
We all know that non-branded exact anchor text has been a red flag for some time. Make sure you stay away from that and read your Google quality guidelines daily, because Google is becoming more stringent.
What are your thoughts on this? Should these be bad links?