Friday we broke the news that Google updated their link schemes webmaster guidelines. Now that the dust has settled, I aimed at getting more clarification on what Google meant by the new example around keyword-rich anchor text links within articles or press releases.
The specific line in the link schemes document is:
Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.
John Mueller, one of Google’s lead Webmaster Trends Analyst, was kind enough to answer some of my questions around this documentation change in a video hangout. The questions from SEOs and myself around the new link schemes documentation change are in the first ten minutes, the outcome was to nofollow links within press releases.
Throughout the video, John Mueller equated press releases to advertisements. It was specifically asked if all links in press releases need to be nofollowed or just “links with optimized anchor text” in press releases need to be nofollowed. While John said it would be somewhat okay to have direct URLs linked within press releases that are followed, he did say to be safe, he’d recommend nofollowing even those links (i.e. the links that are not even optimized anchor text).
Google’s John Mueller did add that there is still great value to using press releases. The goal of the press release is to get the word out to the press about your new service or product. When the press hears about what you have to offer and if/when they decide to write about it on their own sites, those links do not need to be nofollowed. In fact, those stories written editorially are the links that Google values the most.
Google’s Matt Cutts has said that links within press releases do not pass value. Although SEOs have proof that this is not true, it does seem that Google is taking even more direct action against abuse of links within articles and press releases that are paid.
Here is the video (again, watch the first ten minutes or so):