LCI Blog: Google Guidelines Regarding Press Release Links Explained


Recently Google updated their Webmaster (penalty) Guidelines to include the following line:

‘Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites’

This one sentence explains a new guideline and gives insight to what Google will consider a violation deserving of penalization. This has caused quite a stir among PR companies and SEO firms. If press releases are being used as a genuine way to promote a business or make an announcement, what’s all the fuss about?  In no followand of itself, a press release is a harmless distribution tool. So where did it all go wrong?

Simply, once Google determined that press releases had become a tactic for link building, they considered the links the same as a paid link and made that act punishable.  Google wants to ensure that the use of a press release is that of delivering a message and building awareness, not a way to gain incoming links.

The kind of links Google is guarding against are “links with optimized anchor text”. To avoid a penalty from Google, add a ‘no follow’ tag to the hyperlink and continue to follow the rules that make sense for any piece of content.  If links are your objective, write a press release so compelling that a journalist picks it up and writes another piece about it, adding a link naturally to your website.

The job of a press release continues to be getting your content to reach the consumer and spark engagement. With this goal in mind, PR pros should keep writing and producing content worthy of sharing.

New Picture (17)





Please share your thoughts/ideas here or email me at: [email protected].

Lisa Bishop works for Mannix Marketing, LCI’s SEO consultants based in Williamsburg, VA and New York.  For information about SEO, feel free to contact Lisa and visit Mannix online at:


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. David Landis Reply

    Lisa – this rules can be a game changer for PR pros, but if we continue to practice good professional judgment, it shouldn’t be an issue. When in doubt, leave it out. Or attach a “do not follow” tag. Thanks for the contribution! Cheers, David

  2. Sean Dowdall Reply

    Lisa, thanks for the explanation and how to. It will be interesting to see how these changes affect search strategies and efforts. Sean

  3. David Cumpston Reply

    Hi Lisa, this is really important information for all PR practitioners to know, so thanks for distilling it down into something that makes sense — and thanks for providing the necessary workaround so we/our clients don’t get dinged for “breaking the rules”!

  4. Hilary Reply

    Thanks for a great blog post, Lisa! I recently learned how to add the rel=”nofollow” tag in the html code and I’m excited to share this with my team. -Hilary

  5. Brianne Miller Reply

    Thanks, Lisa…it’s so helpful to have an expert break down the rules!