Content is king and the emphasis being placed on it for SEO and good Google rankings is massive for 2014. So what happens when you base content on a press release?
Across a number of the websites our company updates every day we rely on press releases for a large majority of news output. Whether it’s the latest cast announcement for a West End show, a new exotic tour to far awar places, or a machine that will revolutionise food processing – we receive the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to press releases.
We create eye-catching headlines and inviting bylines with SEO in mind, but if we have a news story from a press release we don’t start from scratch. Chunks of the story may well be re-published word-for-word and we won’t be the only ones doing it. We are, however, better than some; most of our competitors will simply cut and paste a press release, especially for their online news pages, which is not a practice I would endorse.
But there is a potential pitfall I am concerned about because lots of news stories that have been inspired by or created from a press release will be very similar, and in parts exactly the same. So surely our friends at Google will be looking down upon us shaking their heads. Unique content they say, but do they live in the real world? Quality, relevant content yes, and it goes without saying that we would never publish something that is poorly written. But you have to be practical – we have small teams creating a lot of print and online products. A large majority of content is unique, especially features, articles and interviews, but for news this isn’t practical.
I have seen plenty online about press releases forming part of a company’s SEO strategy and to help with link building. Those are obvious areas that you would be advised to stay clear of if you’re using such materials to publish. Again, we hark back to relevance and quality. Plus, if a company is sending press releases to us to help a link building project, it is easy to spot. Why? It won’t be newsworthy in the first place.
However, my worry is that by adding news to our websites that’s also being published elsewhere we’re in the firing line of the major search engines when it comes to duplicate online content.
It’s just another thing to have to worry about. Publishing in the digital age – isn’t it just great.