by Ben Hollom

Google has recently changed its webmaster guidelines referring to press releases, listing three specific elements that were considered violations. Two of these, relating to advertorials and large-scale guest posting with the purpose of link building, were more or less expected by the SEO community but the third one appeared somewhat unexpected and looked confusing. Google´s guidelines stated that “links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites” were to be considered a violation. In other words, links within press releases should be nofollowed, Search Engine Land explained.

In a video hangout with the website, John Mueller, one of the search engine´s Webmaster Trends Analysts, shed more light on the change and explained what it meant for webmasters. He noted that while it was admissible to have some direct URLs linked within press releases that are followed, he recommended that all links in press releases should be nofollowed to stay on the safe side.

However, Mueller pointed out that with these changes, Google is not undermining the importance of press releases, which are still very valuable to make the press aware of new products or services. The focus should be on whether the press would then decide to post about them on their own sites – in this case links should not be nofollowed, Mueller said. On the contrary – links from editorial stories would be highly valued by the search engine, he concluded.

Image: Annette Shaff/