• mstricker

    Nice, Sean… good insights! What can you offer on the mechanism by which Google is discerning spammy releases from newsworthy ones?

  • Sean

    Thanks Michael! From my understanding of the data, it looks like Google blanket de-listed individual press release pages on agency websites, as well as on agency partners. Bloomberg took a big hit, too.

  • Nathan Grimm

    I had long wondered how press release sites ranked so well when they have massive duplicate content issues in addition to a fair amount of low-quality content with spammy links.

  • Terry Van Horne

    Press release sites have been getting hit by Panda since the first iteration in fact you’ll see a few in the winners and losers for Panda1. That said when you speak about PRweb there are many issues including but not limited to the 18000+ sites it syndicates press releases to. Not to mention a ScrapeRank which is through the roof and the way press release sites put the home page in an iframe… was a time when Google pretty much ignored iFrame content…. not any longer. So the issues are such that attributing the problems PRWeb has to one algo or another is a suckers bet… could be all or just one…personally I’m in the camp of all these sites are crap and you should be very wary of all not just the ones you inevitably see in every winners and losers list.

  • Michael Stricker

    Thanks, Sean, maybe this looks more like a manual action de-indexation than an algorithmic devaluation and subsequent drop to ranks 15-20…

  • Eric Van Buskirk

    Nice work Sean! I’m amazed how easily press releases were to leverage not for their news content, but for ranking as recently as late 2013. Your graph is dramatic. Using PR releases is clearly a fools game now.

  • Thomas

    Eric Van Bukirk:
    Their argument is that releases don’t rank highly anymore when it is normally just supposed to rank in the
    short term for keywords anyway…Plus this guy has posted 2 examples. I have found plenty that, when receiving enough pick up, still rank highly in the long term.
    Look up “incentive management strategies”… release still ranks fine…So it hasn’t even effected all

    Moreover, the REAL value in news releases isn’t SEO…The real value is visibility and when a journalist PICKS UP your news, and goes on to write another completely organic article.

  • Sean

    “Moreover, the REAL value in news releases isn’t SEO…The real value is visibility and when a journalist PICKS UP your news, and goes on to write another completely organic article.”

    Thanks Thomas! I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head here.

  • Mark Warner

    Is anyone actually reporting a reduction in referral traffic from PR sites? The data that I am seeing is probably just below being statistically significant, but for what it’s worth, referral traffic hasn’t changed so it seems like the community is missing something here.

  • Eric Van Buskirk

    OK, my comment was not clear. By “fools game” I mean when used just for back-links.

    I’ve been doing PR and media outreach for many years, even before Al Gore invented the Internet and Dubya invented the “Internets”. SEO is all about media outreach if we consider media is far more inclusive and broad than it was just 10 years ago. “Media outreach” to bloggers is about reaching out to “press.” So, yes PR skills with in writing and pitching ideas are more important than ever for SEO.

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  • Mark F

    The real issues with Press Releases is that they are not regulated and have become the new article sites. Sending out press releases for the benefit of link value is seen as spam and has been acted on. It is true that press releases have been around longer than SEO. but no one back in those days would have added a clickable follow link. A true press release will have reference to the website, but not in clickable form. Often though many without any SEO experience, just present their press realease not knowing the conscequences.

  • jeff jones

    The whole PR industry complied with Googls DEMANDS to set links nofollow in press release content. Now they penalise them! wtf! ??

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  • APO (African Press Organizatio

    PR Newswire And Business Wire Have Lost Up To 60% Visibility On Google: How to adapt

    Numerous articles have been published, primarily in the US, about how Google’s recent major algorithm update affects the press release distribution industry and ultimately global public relations. According to available studies, the top press release sites—including PR Newswire, Business Wire and PRWeb—are losing between 60 to 70 percent of their visibility on Google since the update. It’s no secret that Search engine optimization (SEO) can be tricky, especially with the constant battery of changes and updates that stream from Google.

    The Perils of a Fragile Model

    What can we learn from the loss of Google visibility experienced by the top press release sites? It demonstrates the fragility of the model used by these major companies. In essence, they provide their clients with one thing: online visibility. It’s much like putting all of your eggs into one basket. Hence, they are entirely dependent on Google. When Google makes a change, their model is instantly and adversely affected.

    APO (African Press Organization) has been and is the sole press release distributor in Africa since 2006. Their success has been contingent on choosing a different, stronger model. Online visibility is just a small part of the company’s media reach. In fact, APO Africa Wire® has a potential reach of 600 million.

    The Benefits of Leveraging a “Wide Angle” Model

    Press release distribution and monitoring are vital to PR success. Like all other press release distributors, APO provides online visibility to its clients, with more than 50 African websites redistributing content. APO also provides international visibility with redistribution by Bloomberg Terminal, Thomson Reuters, Lexis Nexis, Dow Jones Factiva, and more. But in 2014, online and international reach aren’t enough.

    Fact: The most effective PR tool in Africa is the mobile device. It reaches the broadest market.

    APO proudly stands at the forefront of highly efficient and effective news dissemination. Earlier this year, the company signed a game-changing agreement. APO’s clients’ press releases are now available in 30 African countries and on 250 million mobile devices, including the MTN Group, Airtel, Orange, and more. Client PRs can even be distributed directly via SMS.

    Fact: Social media reach has grown increasingly important. In fact, Twitter exposure is practically a prerequisite for press release success.

    Recognizing this fact, APO always posts a minimum of 3 tweets per release, using relevant hashtags to increase visibility and reach. Although the number of followers gained on Twitter is definitely important, so too is the quality of those followers. APO (@apo_source) is proud that the majority of its community is made of professional journalists or bloggers.

    Fact: When it comes to press release distribution in Africa, APO has always seen the big picture. Instead of focusing services to meet the solitary need of visibility, they have chosen to focus using a wide angle. As a result, the company’s model is not derailed by the constant shower of Google algorithm updates.

    Avoid Outdated “Do-It-Yourself” Company Models

    The model used by major PR companies is outdated and over complicated. Most companies push the client into a “do-it-yourself” mold, forcing them to fill out a PR form and tackle everything from creation to multimedia upload themselves. APO is different:

    • APO’s clients send all press release and multimedia content via email, and APO does all of the work from creation to distribution.

    • Text is unlimited, which means no additional charges for extra words.

    • Multimedia content is unlimited and encouraged because it increases the pickup of the release. It doesn’t cost extra.

    • Instead of using software to generate automatic reports, dedicated project managers oversee and manually prepare online distribution reports based on a -full- online monitoring, and not just partner websites posting verbatim. Reports can take up to 3 hours to create and include several languages, detailed stats, screenshots from social media (including tweets), and screenshots from Bloomberg Terminal, Thomson Reuters, Lexis Nexis, Dow Jones Factiva, even screenshots from Google Alerts generated by the release.

    • APO professionals believe it makes absolutely no sense to create the online distribution reports only 24 hours after the press release has been distributed. They create the online distributions reports 5 working days after the distribution, so information has more time to spread in the media and more pickups are reported.

    Most importantly, unlike outdated companies that primarily rely on online reach, APO relies on its 100.000 contact media list, which gathers journalists and bloggers based in OR reporting on Africa. Their media list is divided by countries and topics, allowing for seamless country-based press release distribution. Releases are systematically sent to all African and international journalists reporting on the highlighted industry or subject.

    Managing a 100.000 contact media list requires strong expertise, including generation, indexation, enrichment and validation. It’s a very specific process, especially in Africa. APO has 9 full-time professionals dedicated to media list management. The beauty of this strategy is its lack of dependence on SEO, ranking and Google; it instead hinges on email deliverability.

    Classified as a “High Volume Email Sender,” APO uses Email Best Practices and maintains an excellent Email Sender Reputation with a steady Sender Score of 99/100, which guarantees the best email delivery rates in the industry in Africa.

    PR professionals will now be able to (re)negotiate significantly lower prices

    Considering that the top press release sites—including PR Newswire, Business Wire and PRWeb—are losing between 60 to 70 percent of their visibility on Google since the update, PR professionals will now be able to (re)negotiate significantly lower prices.

    A press release distribution service cannot be -only- an automated network of sites that copy and syndicate news releases online.

    *Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard is the Founder and CEO of APO (African Press Organization) (, the sole press release distribution service dedicated to Africa and the global leader in media relations relating to Africa. Used by some of the world’s largest companies, PR agencies, institutions and organisations, APO Africa Wire® has a potential reach of 600 million. Contact:

  • Asif Ali

    You can also Read Related below Post…

    Top 200+ High PR Press Release Submission Sites – Visit Below Post Link

  • Anthony Kirlew

    My two cents is that if PR Web did a better job of filtering / moderating their releases, this may not have happened. The example shown is a great example of what not to do for a press release. What happened to press releases being written from an unbiased, third party viewpoint? (How many times can you see the word “best” in a press release and take it seriously?)

  • Anthony Kirlew

    “Moreover, the REAL value in news releases isn’t SEO…The real value is visibility and when a journalist PICKS UP your news, and goes on to write another completely organic article.”

    This is true, but how many in the SEO field are actually sending them to journalists before putting them on the news wire? These days journalists aren’t scouring PR sites looking for stories; they get them from their trusted sources, those they have relationships with, and journalist resources such as HARO.

  • CathyWebSavvyPR

    I will say that press releases for SEO purposes, and in specific PRWeb, certainly did take a hit from the Panda update. But those services (which I have used as a PR professional, but with which I am not affiliated) like PR NewsWire and BusinessWire are still used by PR professionals to send news releases directly to journalists. Both do also send the release to online news sites like Google News, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg and some other prominent online sites. PR Newswire only keeps your post online for a specified time, then removes it to a database accessible only to it’s members. BusinessWire archives releases indefinitely on their site. So for your SEO purposes, these sites are less useful than they used to be, but for someone trying to reach a news reporter’s inbox, they can still be useful. This thread came up while I was searching for a comparison of the three sites.

  • CathyWebSavvyPR

    Many journalists do receive PRNewsWire and BusinessWire releases in their actual inbox’s and some stories are genreated from them. Not sure about PRWeb – I think their services is one that journalists check their site, rather than actually sending to reporter’s inbox’s. However, you are very correct that the main way to get a story written about is to make a connection with a journalist, send them a release targeted to their specific needs and got from there. I agree that resources like HARO can also be a great resource to find a reporter looking for a story (help a reporter out) – which BTW is now owned by Vocus, the parent company of PRWeb…

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