Editor’s note: “Ask an SEO” is a weekly column by technical SEO expert Jenny Halasz. Come up with your hardest SEO question and fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
Today’s Ask an SEO question is from Steven G. in Dortmund, Germany. He asks:
I read your article about press releases and if they’re still good for SEO. I’ve been wondering if press releases are good for SEO, too. But this question doesn’t answer what I mean. I’ve been thinking about posting complete press releases on my WordPress website which includes news, reviews, product reviews etc. It’s a blog, I can’t write news about everything, so I was thinking to create an extra news category (sub-cat of news (=main cat)) for press releases. So I can offer 1) more topics in entertainment but 2) can also include news about science, politics, economy, nature etc.
So this will make my website more open, but with Google always checking websites for duplicate content, I don’t know if this idea is real good or bad. Or if it is bad (because of duplicate content), can I turn it into something good by not indexing this category (press releases) but instead have those articles only appear in plugins like “You may interested in:” and only there something like press releases appear. And then: Is it really turned into something good? I mean, is it too much work for a way too small effect (because I am not indexing anything I post and visitors only find those press releases by luck). Hope you can help me out with this.
I’m going to expand your question because it touches on a bigger one: Syndication.
Syndicated content, such as press releases, can be a great way to round out your content or to provide visitors with curated lists of valuable information.
Lots of sites offer this service, whether they provide a curated list of political news, fashion news, entertainment news, or something else. There are even sites that offer curated press releases for video games.
Ultimately, if it adds value to your visitors, there’s no good reason not to do it.
The tricky part is how Google will view it, which honestly is not even as tricky as it sounds. If the way that you curate the content is just to stick it in a category and not add anything to it, it’s just pure syndicated content.
It adds value to the visitor, but it doesn’t add any value for Google to list your site as a resource for it the same way that they list the original source for it. So they either won’t index it or they will ignore it.
If you add some commentary or interpretation of the content that adds some value beyond just the syndication, it’s possible that would be considered of greater value, especially for a query that contains a word like “review”.
If the query isn’t something that your specific commentary or interpretation refers to, don’t expect to outrank the original source of the content.
Now on to the thorny issue of whether you allow Google to index it or not… If there’s additional commentary, I say there’s no problem with allowing Google to index it. This is assuming of course that you properly credit the source of the syndicated portion of the content and don’t try to pass it off as your own.
However, if your site is nothing but a syndicated content site, there’s probably not enough value in it for Google to consider your site when it comes time to rank sites.
So I strongly advise against using syndication as the primary content on your site, even if you do provide some insightful commentary.
Officially, Google says they don’t use ratios to analyze sites, but in my opinion, it’s all about the ratio of value.
If you have a site that offers no value outside of the occasional commentary on syndicated content, you aren’t going to rank for anything except long-tail terms, and you won’t be seen as an authority on those topics.
If however, you provide a lot of original content and value and the syndicated content and/or commentary is in addition to this other value, it’s fine to let Google index it in its entirety.
Google’s official position on properly attributed syndicated content is that they would like to be able to crawl it and decide for themselves if they want to use it.
In my opinion, it’s best to leave syndicated content and press releases open. Let Google decide what has value and what does not.
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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita