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The return of press releases

Ten years ago, “news release sites” were one of the biggest things on the web. I should know, I helped set up what turned out to be the biggest news release publisher in its field. In late 2006, however, we started to get the first hints that Google was turning away from these sites. While they were great for users, amalgamating news releases in one place, Google wanted to be the web’s ultimate index, sending people directly to the source. Promoting these “middle men” wasn’t part of its plans. Its rejection of news aggregators has continued relentlessly, and now it’s not just that most of these sites don’t feature in its index, using them can actually harm your own site’s prospects of ranking highly. For a technical, search engine-oriented analysis of what’s going on, read Why your press releases are getting you penalised on Blogstorm. This excellent article suggests that for maximum online effectiveness, we really need to go back 20 years and recall the original purpose of a press release: to inform independent news organisations of a “story” which they might like to cover in their own words. This goes against what we’ve taken for granted over the last decade or more; i.e. because anything we write will be published as-is online, we just need to get as much out there as we can. It could be that things are coming full circle, and while you still need to get as much good content as you can on your own site, duplicating it elsewhere may start becoming counterproductive.

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