What’s Google’s stance on links in new releases?

I was reading the June PRSA Tactics newsletter when I came across an interesting and useful article about Google’s take on hyperlinks in news releases by Carrie Morgan, a public relations consultant. One of the million-dollar questions surrounding Google’s secretive search algorithms is: How does it judge the quality of content? The search engine works hard to make sure it is always pushing quality and relevant information to the top of its results. In an effort to always improve, its algorithms are constantly changing, so below are some high points worth knowing about using hyperlinks in your releases.

The long and short of it is YES, Google does recognize links in press releases, but it’s to your benefit to keep them relevant. In other words, they should help elaborate on the story as opposed to being a plug for extraneous subjects. Google can calculate this relevancy and therefore discount the quality of releases with spam or other suspicious links. Examples of ways to incorporate links are: linking a quoted figure’s bio from your company’s website to their name in the release or linking the public stock symbol for your company’s name to further information, if available.

It’s also worth noting that using a wire service to distribute press releases does not have a direct correlation to your website’s ranking. Rest assured, the guys at Google have done their homework. They can recognize syndicated release sites and discount their value.

Some other tips to remember about Google and publishing news releases include focusing on the length of the release and the content of your lead sentence. Google will only be able to accommodate the first 65 to 80 characters of your headline in its search results, so look to work your company name and any important keywords as close to the front as possible. Likewise, look to include as many keywords – that make sense – in your first sentence for SEO purposes.

In conclusion, links can definitely add to the quality of your release, but use them wisely. Morgan recommends specifically using no more than three in a release. Most importantly, think about the person reading the release for the first time. Do you want them to focus on the great content within it or direct them to five other pages before they reach the end?