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Link Values Simplified
Written by Jim Hedger
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 14:50

Earlier I read a piece on Google, press releases and link values in SearchEngineLand. The article notes an experiment conducted by Daniel Tan, founder of WordPress SEO evaluation plug-in SEOPressor.

Matt Cutts on PR links

Tan set out to disprove a Christmas Day comment made by Google Quality Control Czar, Matt Cutts to a Google Forum discussion of press releases.

What Matt Said

Cutts wrote “I wouldn’t expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings…”, in response to a vague question about the pagerank value of a link in a press release. It was a one-off sentence that apparently had greater implications than it should have. I expect Cutts was really saying, “Don’t waste your time and money on bogus press releases to gain stronger Google rankings”.

For the most part, that’s good advice. People have spammed search results using press releases for years. The Penguin updates were designed to destroy poor quality links and degrade the ranking of pages profiting from them.

A Challenge on the Play

Tan decided to challenge Cutts’ statement wrong by making Cutts’ Gadgets, Google, and SEO Blog rank for the nonsense keyword, “leasreepressmm”. He wrote a press release refuting Cutts’ claim that links in press releases had no value. He tried to prove his point by using a non-existent word twice as anchor text with the link directed to Matt Cutts’ Blog.

The blog is ranking on the first page of results for the word, “leasreepressmm”, and Google does recognize the combination of letters enough to return results for it. Similar results under actual keywords are almost certainly unachievable unless, of course, your press release represents something that is actually useful, timely, of note, or otherwise potentially important to Google users or to Google’s search results.

If you need to ask...

Here’s the simplest explanation about the value of links you’ll ever read, at least until a simpler one is written. Everything else is pretty much superfluous.

  • If a link makes sense on a page and provides a useful path for users it has great and immediate value.
  • If it is only kinda sorta useful but worthwhile following for some users, the link has less value but is still sorta useful and worthwhile.
  • If the link is placed on a page listing similar links to other domains that do not relate to each other, even through the content on or context of the source page, those links are valueless and likely harmful to the source-site/domain’s reputation.
  • If you can’t think of a reason beyond spiders to place a link, don’t place it.

Can a link in a press release be of value? Of course it can. Can two links to the same domain in a press release deliver double or even equal value as just one? Probably not.

Matt Speaks

A vid worth watching, on a related note...

Jim Hedger - SEO

Jim Hedger is a founding partner of the Toronto based search and social media marketing agency, Digital Always Media. Jim has an extensive background in Search Engine Optimization going back to the late 1990s. He leads the search engine optimization and content creation teams at Digital Always Media.

Also, you can hook up with Jim via his


Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 May 2013 15:36


0 #1 David Leonhardt 2013-05-07 16:04
Well, by the four-question test, I would disagree that second link to the same domain in a press release would carry little value. If the press release is saying anything useful at all, it is very important for reporters, bloggers and others to have direct links to all the relevant information about the news, about the organization and most likely that already means 3-4 links.

The real issue is the one I alluded to: "If the press release is saying anything useful at all". The reality is that 99% of press releases are not about news, but about companies flogging their wares. Pure verbal pollution. When there is real news about most companies, they would much rather hide it than spread it around.
0 #2 Doc Sheldon 2013-05-07 20:08
Jim, as a cynical old fart, I tend to watch Matt's videos with more of an eye toward what he DOESN'T say.

His comment, “I wouldn’t expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings…” didn't actually say "links in press releases". It said (I'm paraphrasing, because I can't actually locate the video. The emphasis is mine) "links on press release sites." Big difference, that a lot of bloggers seemed to either miss or choose not to hear.

Once a PR gets picked up and run on the NYT (Hey! It could happen!), I don't think anyone would question the link's value.

I agree with your four "if you need to ask" items. When working with clients to clean up their link profiles, I always tell them, "if you feel any justification would be necessary for Google to see a link in its proper light, you need to be rid of it".

EDIT: My bad, Jim... it wasn't a video... it was a comment he made on!topic/webmasters/O178PwARnZw/discussion

0 #3 Spook SEO 2014-02-09 11:39
"Hi Jim!

I definitely agree with you that a link in a press release can be of value. I have watched the video of Matt Cutts that you have shared here. I must say that the video is worth watching. I will also be sharing this article of yours to others. Thank you!"
0 #4 تست جوش 2014-03-16 07:52
This is true, especially the part about promoting. That's why social is becomming a bigger part of the algo, according to my predictions. Because real webmasters want to reach real people, while spammers want to go undetected.
0 #5 تور چین 2014-05-13 14:00
The more detailed information we know how to an algo update is working the more strategies we can produce
0 #6 طب سوزنی 2014-05-18 08:56
Another hack: Take notes on Google Docs and share the docs with your conference buddies! Type your notes together simultaneously and you won't miss a thing!

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