Google updates have a way of shaking up the online world. With every new update, sites and industries inevitably experience losses in rankings. Top rankings can be difficult to obtain, and many sites have no way of knowing how hard they’ll be hit.
The recent Panda 4.0 update has had an impact on press release sites. Because of the criteria that Google uses to establish such things as trust, authority, and relevance, these sites in particular often find it hard to measure up.
What is Panda 4.0?
Panda 4.0 was a major transition in the ways in which Google optimizes their search results for uses. Live reviewers were used to evaluate the quality of websites, using a criteria based on questions related to different aspects of content.
Reviewers assessed the level of trust that sites created, along with intent of their content. Was the site an obvious attempt at ranking for key search terms, or was it of actual interest to readers?
Observing their attention to detail and editing determined the quality of articles. Sites that appeared thrown together quickly were deemed less likely to provide users with the quality search results they expect from Google.
These variables were used to create a model that allows the search engine to determine how likely a site would be to receive low scores. Unfortunately, the criteria were difficult to meet for many press release sites.
How Press Release Sites Work
The nature of press release sites requires that its content come from a variety of users. Because Google values sites that are useful in a unique way, press releases can simply be seen as useful, but not unique.
About half of reviewers found that these sites had content that had any real insight. Government sites and resources like Wikipedia generally rank much higher than standard press release sites, making it even harder to rank accordingly.
In addition, press release sites were assessed as not being trustworthy when it comes to financial transactions. Many of these sites have elements of ecommerce, but they failed to build the necessary trust that Google looks for.
Press release sites get their content from releases that are accepted on a regular basis. This has made it hard for them to be seen as an authority on a given topic in the eyes of Google.
What PR Sites Can Do
In order to overcome this unique challenge, press release sites can take measures to build authority and trust in the eyes of users and search engines.
The first step is to organize the site’s content into different areas of subjects. Although not the only solution, it has been shown to help restore rankings post-Panda 4.0.
Using sub-domains or directories can indicate that a given piece of content is a part of a larger message that is consistent throughout the site.
Using security measures such as HTTPS helps users trust press release sites that ask for credit card information for transactions. This can be a simple step towards higher rankings.
The quality of press release sites must be maintained at all times. Having editors in place implements a quality-control factor that will be seen as favorable in the search engines. Content should be easily accessed and consumed by users, not just search engines.
Panda 4.0 is likely not the last update to Google’s search algorithms. As more updates are made, more sites will be affected. This will require agility in strategies around SEO and content creation. Press release sites and others can take the necessary steps to ensure that they continue to thrive in a Panda 4.0 world.