Google's Cutts: Press release links may not help local SEO

Content is a big piece of the local SEO puzzle. Of all the components that go into a search strategy, content is routinely crowned king above other influential factors like keywords, social media and tags. Different styles of content abound, including blogs and articles, but one of the most popular forms of content many local businesses turn to is the press release.

However, local establishments may want to rethink their strategy after a recent Google comment suggested that links, the core SEO value derived from press releases, may not benefit local SEO.

Cutts bursts press release bubble
When local businesses want to heighten their profile, they often contact a press release distribution company that will fit their content with links back to the business' website and other destinations that the business has identified. The hope is that besides getting more exposure, the links will factor into SEO signals that search engines use to inform their results.

However, when Google says press releases may not actually do much good, businesses better listen up.

Google chief SEO expert Matt Cutts recently said as much when he responded to a thread in a Google Webmaster Help forum.

The question that prompted Cutts to respond was from an SEO specialist asking if the businesses' search rankings would be penalized if the links directed back to the website too quickly.

Cutts offered a terse reply days later: "Note: I wouldn't expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however."

It's a bit of big news from Google's SEO authority, as many businesses do issue press releases about new offering and sites based on the assumption the links in the press release will help them.

Press releases not entirely dismissed
Currently,there is no empirical evidence offered up by Cutts or Google on how press releases negatively affect rankings, or if they even do.

In a response to Cutts' one-off proclamation posted by Search Engine Journal, the article's author suggested the comment was taken out of context and press releases do indeed provide some worth to businesses.

"[F]rom a sustainable SEO perspective, press releases are still an SEO best practice recommendation," Alan Bleiweiss wrote for SEJ. "As part of a comprehensive marketing solution that is vital to providing multiple layers of direct and indirect signals for SEO purposes. But only when those releases are executed properly."