How Google’s Updated Link Schemes Impact Press Releases and Blog Posts

Last week, Google surrepticiously updated its Link Schemes document, which dictates SEO best practices. The following now constitute “unnatural links” as initially reported by Search Engine Land:

  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
  • Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank
  • Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.

This means that content such as press releases and blog posts may actually decline in PageRank and search results if they contain forced optimized anchor text. What is anchor text? The illustration below courtesy of Moz explains it best:

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What practices should you stay away from? Google provided an example of content that contains unnatural links in an attempt to optimize anchor text and manipulate PageRank results:

There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.”

You may still write press releases that include links back to a page on the company’s site where readers can find more information about a new product — this includes product pages, landing pages, blog posts, etc. However, in a Google+ Hangout (see below), Google’s John Mueller recommended nofollowing ALL links within press releases in order to eliminate any possiblities of Google mistaking your press release for link abusive content.

On blog posts, you should avoid optimized anchor text by hyperlinking directive text or calls to action rather than keywords. For example, in the phrase:

Click here to see how we develop public relations programs for technology, healthcare and clean tech clients

LPP would include a link to http://loispaul.com under the call to action rather than the term “public relations.” Although this may appear to contradict keyword-based SEO practices, it is the recommended way to build PageRank and improve SEO under Google’s new guidelines.

The Big Takeaway?

Avoid hyperlinking keywords just to boost your SEO for SEO’s sake. Stop creating content for engines and machines. Start creating content that delivers experiences for readers and compells them to click through and engage.

SEO = Search Experience Optimization

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