Ted Karczewski

​Google recently amended its Webmaster Tools link schemes document to includes new provisions on fair inbound link generation. The search engine added components to govern large-scale guest blogging ventures, inappropriate use of advertorials and press release content for SEO that uses anchor text to fuel backlinks.

While Google has been clear with its stance on no-follow links in advertorials, as noted in a recent Webmaster Central Help video, updates to guide future guest blogging campaigns and press releases come with some eye-opening insights.

Honest guest blogging still OK

The search engine notes the following​ certain​ practices will raise a red flag: guest blogging without a quality standard, aimed at building links​.​ Theoretically, with the company paying close attention to how brands engage in guest blogs, certain penalties may be applied when Google detects malicious intent to inflate PageRank or domain authority. Perhaps Google may request every company publishing a guest blog to use the no-follow tag to remove any inbound link. This would mirror recent rules placed on how companies market news updates through press release wires and web content.

PR content must follow new set of rules

The biggest update to Google’s link scheme document is how marketers use news wires for promotional and link building purposes. Google advises, “links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites,” is an example of unnatural link building. 

The update around press release practices may come as no surprise to anyone familiar with SEOPressor Founder Daniel Tan’s May 2013 experiment. Tan argued against a statement from Google’s Matt Cutts that press releases don’t influence PageRank. Tan attempted to optimize a release for a random word that linked back to Cutts’ blog. The test worked, but perhaps it only added to Google’s reconsideration of press release links, reflected in the updated Webmaster Tools link scheme document.

Google’s position on press release links and guest blogs gives companies that were using these formats primarily for SEO link building reason to re-evaluate their strategies and what they use to measure the success of these forms of content.