Update: This is an updated version to the original post.
When picturing a Panda with their black and white markings, round belly and tiny ears we think of them as friendly and docile. After all, they are considered a symbol of peace in China. Most of the time they are docile, but they have been known to attack when irritated and Google’s Panda is irritated with low quality content.
In a continued effort to provide high quality results Google began rolling out Panda 4.0 on May 20th which addresses content Google finds to be of low quality. This placed press release newswires right in the cross-hairs. The largest of them, PR Newswire, has been a staple in press release distribution for nearly 60 years, with nearly 13% of the market share globally, but along the way the editorial quality the company allowed to go through its system became focused on SEO vs editorially reviewed quality content. This began shifting the company away from the core purpose of press releases which is to provide useful information and build brand awareness.
Other services including PRWeb, Globenewswire and Businesswire already have tight editorial guidelines in place which resulted in little to no change in their page rankings after this last Panda update. (Wrong? – PR Web and Businesswire did see a drop in page rankings just after the Panda update– but the question becomes what other factors were at play? Were there significant press releases the week before? The original statement is based on first hand exposure to content from all of these vendors on behalf of our client base. In order to deliver target analysis, we have had to sift through more PR Newswire thin content vs. PR Web or Businesswire. Globenewswire content however has been tight albeit significantly less volume then the other three overall.). For example: Vocus, who owns PR Web, made significant editorial guideline adjustments after an incident a few years back when on November 26, 2012 a fake press release went out about Google acquiring ICOA. Google had it as the number one result! PR Web took down the release, issued a statement but more importantly instituted stricter guidelines to prevent this type of episode from reoccurring; the result of which is higher quality content and increased revenues year-over-year to the tune of around $20M.
PR Newswire responded on June 20th with this press release, which is original content but interestingly does not appear on page one of a Google search (pr newswire panda), announcing “Effective immediately, press releases and other content submitted for distribution via PR Newswire’s wire distribution network will be evaluated under new guidelines to help ensure content quality…” In this blog post the company goes into greater detail and provides more useful links on how to generate quality content.
PR Newswire demonstrated that it is responsive and willing to make changes necessary to patch up those cracks in its reputation Panda has put a spotlight upon, but this will take time and client cooperation. The press release notes the company is making recommendations for quality content. “Identification and deletion of low quality content” though will take some time to incorporate and refine.
To anyone thinking “The Press Release Is Dead” it is not, but it needs to find its roots again in high-quality, informative content and distribution services are the gate-keepers. Maintaining high standards in the editorial guidelines is the key. Remember Panda is on patrol.