Publicists and communications directors use press releases to get the word out. Journalists and bloggers, meanwhile, use press releases as an information-dense source for articles.
If press releases are so important to so many people, why don’t they produce better SEO results?
Comments made by Google Trends Analyst John Mueller on a recent livestream might give some insight on why.
Mueller discussed the topic on a Google hangout broadcasted on Feb. 19. The livestream was part of a series of broadcasts hosted by members of Google Search Central, which is Google’s site optimization hub. This installment included a discussion on press releases and their performance in searches.
The discussion began when SEO Michael Lewittes mentioned that he often saw news articles rank higher in searches than the press releases they stem from.
We know that Google favours original content. So why would duplicated content rank higher than a press release – the ultimate form of original content for journalism?
Mueller explains that, while Google tries to distinguish original content from copycats, some pieces are bound to slip through the cracks.
“I think in most cases we try to recognize situations where exactly the same article is being republished and then to treat that accordingly in search by showing the original,” he explained. “But there are lots of cases where we can’t recognize that completely.”
Following those comments, SEO Robb Young asks if Google actively distinguishes press releases from other kinds of content. Mueller responds by explaining that Google tries to note them, but doesn’t always differentiate:
“I think to some extent we probably try to recognize press releases and understand that these pieces of content that are just republished in lots of places and try to act accordingly to that. But otherwise it’s just content. It’s kind of like if I write a blog post or a news article, it’s essentially a piece of content to us.”
Ultimately, Mueller’s comments don’t give a whole lot of clarity. We’re still not sure exactly what it is that makes press releases perform the way they do, or if Google has plans for the future to help these pieces rank higher.
Still, Mueller’s comments must be somewhat relieving for anyone who has been confused by Google’s approach to ranking press releases.