Google: Links In Press Releases Are Unnatural Links & Should Be Nofollowed
Yesterday we reported about the link schemes Google update and later on I had the opportunity to ask Google's John Mueller specific questions about this update and what it means.
My main concern was how specific the example was given on this one:
Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.
My questions were:
(1) Just the optimized anchor text within these press releases have to be nofollowed?
(2) Do you have to nofollow basic URL links (i.e. not optimized keyword anchor text) in these releases?
(3) Why is Google calling out press releases here?
So in the video, you can watch it, it last about ten minute (with one question not related in between), I ask these questions to John, as do others in the live hangout.
John Mueller from Google makes it clear that Google wants all links in these press releases to be nofollowed. He did say having a URL at the end should be okay but when he was grilled about it again, he said it is best to nofollow the links. John even said press releases should be treated as advertisements and thus links in those releases should be nofollowed.
I asked John why all of a sudden the change in policy for press releases and John said that it is because SEOs were using these more and more in a way to promote their site [artificially in the Google search results] and Google needed to clarify their stance on them.
John did make it clear that press releases are still a great way to promote your services and products. In fact, the links you get indirectly from a press release, i.e. those people who find your press release and then write a story on their own and link to you, do not have to be nofollowed. But the links within press releases should be nofollowed.
It is clear that John was part of the overall discussion at Google about this new link scheme guideline change, although he wasn't around for the final draft review.
My advice, if you are doing press releases, make sure not to stuff keyword rich anchor text links in those releases. Try to have all links nofollowed but especially any keyword rich anchor text. Do the press releases because the press reads them and they will hopefully pick up on your offering and write about it on their site with links to you that are followed naturally and without pay.