Hey Matt, Links In Press Releases Do Impact Your Search Engine

Jan 23, 2013 • 8:32 am | comments (40) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

press releasesRight after Christmas Matt Cutts said something pretty bold within a Google Webmaster Help thread that I covered as Google Says Press Release Links Won't Help Your Search Rankings. But is it true? An SEO tested it and found this not to be the case.

First, let me quote Matt Cutts of Google:

Note: I wouldn't expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however.

It is pretty clear - don't try to use press releases as a way to embed links within them and expect them to have a positive impact on your ranking goals within Google.

But the test this SEO ran showed that he was able to rank Google's Matt Cutts blog for the keyword [sreppleasers] with only creating a link within a press release pointing to Matt's blog. It did not rank for sreppleasers beforehand, only after there was a link to Matt's blog from a press release. And today, it still ranks:


Why does this work if Matt said it shouldn't? Well, maybe Matt was talking about more competitive terms? Maybe Matt was thinking of a specific few press release distribution companies? Maybe Matt was confused?

Matt has been offline for a while, I hope everything is okay - but I have not heard from him in a while. So he has not addressed this directly. Maybe he will, but maybe he won't?

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Daniel Vareta

01/23/2013 01:40 pm

He must be working in something evil. He will show up when you less expect.

Tad Chef

01/23/2013 01:51 pm

There are always two kinds of truth when it comes to Google, the one they want us to know and the one we know ourselves.

Shoshan Happy-Botten Cohen

01/23/2013 01:55 pm

Matt took some time of at the beginning of the year, maybe this is round 2 ?

Martin Harris

01/23/2013 02:04 pm

It's subjective to the content... good PR content + relevant links in the copy is exactly the same as creating good content that goes viral, as apposed to bad content and spammy links. And as for Paid PR distributions not helping rankings If the content is good enough and the distribution is to top media outlets, you are getting high PA links in return.... what is the difference from that and me contacting each media outlet individually? The anchor text is up to them to put in, and if it's relevant to the copy....the majority will.


01/23/2013 02:07 pm

In his last blog post, Matt Cutts wrote the following: This month I’m going to try to unplug from Twitter and most news. I’m also going to cut down on replying to email. So I assume everything is alright :)


01/23/2013 02:31 pm

Perhaps the original link from the press release will help, just if it gets syndicated elsewhere the links won't be of any additional benefit since it's duplicate content.


01/23/2013 03:38 pm

Not sure how this could be seen as a conclusive test, it was done on a domain known to have plenty of authority and indexes well in Google for a made up term. Surely you would expect this to happen? Not sure that this is as shocking as many are making out.

Fred Joly

01/23/2013 04:54 pm

likely highly influenced by personalized search not so triggered by one misleading hyperlink. Matt Cutts doesn't appear in my search results for that keyword

Gabriel Sita

01/23/2013 04:57 pm

I knew it, press releases are very good for your seo.


01/23/2013 05:06 pm

Press release links will work especially if they get picked up. I assume hes talking about gaming press realise sites themselves for links as a strategy much like how article sites were abused. Article site gaming still works if your clever but would I use that strategy nah.

Joe Youngblood

01/23/2013 05:11 pm

sign out, use incognito mode. it works here.

Joe Youngblood

01/23/2013 05:12 pm

I would like to see a follow up test with 1) a new domain w/ no authority, 2) a press release to different PR websites for a moderate authority website


01/23/2013 05:35 pm

I think Matt made a New Years resolution to stay offline for 30 days or something like that.


01/23/2013 05:37 pm

Oh I see now, it was only a week.

Bill Ross

01/23/2013 06:38 pm

Interesting test but... Getting a high authority website ranked for a word that has little-to-no competition or value can be done with almost any link (probably even a purchased link). As much as I would like to commend the test, I think its unfair to say that Press Releases can "help" your seo - I mean unless you want to spend $ to rank for a term that nobody searches for or is optimizing for.

Michael Martinez

01/23/2013 07:05 pm

He did NOT say (in that discussion) that all press release links would be ignored. He was referring specifically to the press release links that one Webmaster had acquired. This has turned into yet another embarrassing SEO community gaffe. There is no need to take everything Matt says and extrapolate it into some general principle that applies to the universe.


01/23/2013 07:23 pm

"Matt has been offline for a while, I hope everything is okay - but I have not heard from him in a while." Do not worry, Google will find another POS liar and a fraud.


01/23/2013 08:22 pm

So true. +1,000,000


01/23/2013 08:52 pm

Hi Bill. The only reason we used 'sreppleasers' as the keyword was to avoid the noise we would have seen if we'd used 'best credit card' or something ludicrously competitive. If we had, the juice from the press release (and the dozens scrapers) could well have passed to the target site but it probably wouldn't have appeared in the top 1000 results making it impossible to show if it worked or not. Also, there's no evidence to suggest Google has a list of competitive vs. non-competitive phrases and treats them differently in the algo somehow making 'sreppleasers' open to manipulation and others not.


01/23/2013 08:53 pm

Quite possibly. Quite possibly the other way round too though :) Shouldn't you know anyway, Jesus?

Jon Hogg

01/23/2013 08:54 pm

This PR was pretty poor though...

Jon Hogg

01/23/2013 08:55 pm

Skunk update imminent

Krystian Szastok

01/23/2013 10:21 pm

That's one useless test that's true.


01/23/2013 10:57 pm

Matt is doing the "no internet" and "some email" approach this month, according to his blog. Remember how he tries to challenge himself each month with different things? So that's why he isn't responding.


01/23/2013 11:42 pm

I think google is always going to try to provide a relevant result no matter what so if it's a made up word that no one would search for in the first place and all they have is an anchor text from a press release to work with, than they have to use it to provide the most relevant results. I want to see more tests with some more competitive keywords.

Dave Fowler

01/23/2013 11:46 pm

Barry, he said links from 'press release web sites' would not help, an important distinction. He was not dismissing links from press releases per se, in my understanding. I think you're inadvertently spreading misinformation here?


01/24/2013 04:25 am

Well said. As if anyone at Google even knows what the algorithm will does these days. Matt's department probably has no clue. He isn't part of the dev team.


01/24/2013 04:28 am

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Winson Yeung

01/24/2013 05:02 am

Interesting that you point to Matt blog!

Ranu Jain

01/24/2013 07:02 am

I too consider that press releases are of value and are helpful in search engine rankings but this test doesn't prove the point completely. This term "sreppleasers" has very less competition so even if it was not a press release and just a "Do Follow" link on a low valued blog it would have a similar impact. IMO, PRs have a great impact on rankings if you choose to go for just one newsline to distribute your press release.


01/24/2013 07:57 am

This is a wrong assumption, and Matt doesn't need to be wrong. This test doesn't prove that press release links still work. It proves that co-citation is well at play.

Arun Sharma

01/24/2013 12:11 pm

Exactly. Matt Cutts did not say.


01/24/2013 03:38 pm

Google has not made a big ol' blacklist of every PR site which they will continuously update for ever. They tend not to work like that. Google have however made lots of updates targeting low quality content and links from low quality sources. A press release, as nice a domain as it might be on, will be on a page with very little value. That site as a whole will have many, many pages like this all with unrelated content. This is a pretty clear signal to Google that this site is some kind of content farm, be it a PR site or other form of content syndication. This means the value which any links pass from the pages on which the press releases appear will be very very little. So this test has effectively shown a couple of things; 1. You can make a page rank for a term which is does not use just by linking to it 2. Google will still pass on relevancy from a link even if it does not pass value What this test has not shown is that Google passes value through these links. Adjust a stable ranking with only links from press releases, well then I'll take notice.

Rank Watch

01/24/2013 06:24 pm

Completely Agree with you Martinez. Matt might have meant that press release links acquired from low quality press release distribution sites just for the sake of getting a link doesn't carry any value, he definitely wouldn't have mean't that genuine press release links from high quality sites doesn't carry any value.

John Britsios

01/24/2013 07:54 pm

I think that Matt was misunderstood again. From my understanding, links placed on Press Release sites (especially low quality ones) do not carry as much value. And that because they are simply not natural. If a Press Release is picked up and published on a quality site, then we could expect an equity income. The story here does not prove anything, and it is misleading for people lacking experience in SEO. Look at the number 1 position web site in the screenshot. They picked up the Press Release and published on their web site. Does that ring any bells? If something thinks that I am missing something, the question is, would that rank for a long period of time? Why doesn't the tester run a test with a high competitive term? If he does, we can talk about that! At last I need to add here, did any one think about the supplemental index? A page from the supplemental index can still pop up when the query has none or too low competition. So did I miss something? If yes, please clarify.


01/24/2013 11:40 pm

Sshh, don't alert the Googleplex on what works and what doesn't... Implement, observe, duplicate if successful; if not, experiment again... wash, rinse, repeat

Doc Sheldon

01/26/2013 01:45 am

Matt didn't say that links in press releases didn't have any value... what he said (Barry, I can't imagine you missing this, so I'm assuming you were just trying to get the juices flowing) was that we shouldn't "expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings". Hint: "... FROM PRESS RELEASE SITES... ". Let the NYT pick it up and run it, it's a whole different story.

Jawad Latif

01/28/2013 09:48 am

Interesting experiment. Looks like he made Matt speechless.

Ben Guest

01/30/2013 03:45 pm

Just experiment on the algos yourself, and stop worrying about what they tell you because as Michael states below, Cutts comment has yet again be taken out of context.

Stanley Garland

01/31/2013 08:11 pm

Whether Cutts was talking about a specific instance or speaking in generalities, this is the typical Googl histeria that they like to sow. They want the SEO community to be constantly out there trembling in fear that they are out of business tomorrow. This is why they are constantly changing the rules, so that they can play internet god. http://homemadebacklinks.webs.com

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