An article headline yesterday stopped me in my tracks: “Did Google Just Kill PR Agencies?” In this piece, veteran reporter Tom Foremski discusses new rules issued by Google about links and keywords in press releases. These new mandates are intended to limit any “manipulation” of search rankings. You can read Google’s full explanation here.
Google is not killing off PR agencies though. PR existed before Google and it will exist long after these rules are in place for one important reason. PR is about telling stories, not manipulating search results. Press releases, too, existed before Google. As Foremski wrote, press releases are tools PR people use to interest reporters in writing about the news and we believe that is how they should be used (see our post with nine tips here).
Aside from the press release, PR has much to thank Google for – measurement is now possible, in part thanks to Google Analytics. Google Analytics lets us directly measure how the media coverage we secure, the content we create and the points of view we seed lead people back to our clients’ websites. Google News is also a huge asset to PR, keeping us abreast in real-time to the latest news.
With this new mandate, what Google has done is kill off the SEO press release. Google is now requiring that URLs and anchor text within press releases be converted to no follow links. That’s cool with us. We’ll still be able to see where PR content drives referral site traffic. Also, fortunately, the major news wires have already stepped up to the plate and are automatically converting these links.
And, before we bury it, let’s give the SEO press release some due credit. SEO optimization has actually forced PR to write crisper, shorter headlines. To stick to the facts, avoid the buzzwords, provide links to useful, relevant and timely content. All things we know that reporters value.
But, the real guts to this story are these: PR is about storytelling, not seeding links and boosting SEO. We:
- Know that the media is constantly evolving and that PR tactics must too
- Help clients formulate and express their points of view
- Build relationships with reporters and know how they work and how to get their attention
- Create good content in many forms, and use it to engage in meaningful conversations with key audiences
- Know how to make your content more findable by reporters
- Understand that your product launch is not your watershed moment; it’s what comes afterward that matters.
Rest assured, PR will adapt to Google’s new rules and will continue to make headlines, influence change and drive actions.