Press Releases and Google Penalties

ballistic bells writes press releases

Google recognized a problem with press release spam in 2013 and implemented penalties to discourage people from distributing keyword stuffed and over-backlinked fluff pieces intended to game the system. Offenders were forced to take down their press releases to restore their ranking.

Even though these new backlinking parameters have been in effect for over four years, there are still many companies out there that don’t understand how to write releases that fit within the new guidelines.

In an attempt to get more exposure; they end up doing unintentional harm.

Google’s Guidelines On Press Releases

Google Guidelines are incredibly detailed, so I’ll simplify it.

More than 2 or 3 links to your homepage in the entire press release will probably get you a Google penalty.


Linking back to your homepage is good, but excess backlinking in any press release copy is asking for trouble

Purpose of a Press Release

The purpose of this type of copy is to broadcast your news so more people discover your business.

But, in order to get the media’s attention you need something newsworthy to give them a reason to write about it. Your press copy must have real news value.

Let’s get started by covering the basics of a press release.

A Headline

This is press copy, not an advertorial. The headline must be clear with no promotional tone at all.

News headlines are always concise and newsworthy. One way of writing a good headline would be to include an active verb in it:

  • Top Company Cuts 5,000 Jobs
  • Accused Murderer Takes The Stand
  • Use verbs with “punch;” insist, delay, strive, extend


This is your brief, one paragraph outline of your story. It must be concise and get straight to the point.


The press release dateline consists of: 

  •  The city
  • The state
  • Date of the press release

This information is always the first line of your copy, followed by your press release summary. The city name in the dateline must be all caps, then the abbreviated state name and finally the full date.

The Lead Paragraph

The first paragraph must provide information that answers; WhoWhenWhereWhatWhyHow.

Begin with an engaging introduction that hooks your readers’ attention.

The introduction is distinct from the press release summary. It highlights your message so that readers immediately understand what your release is about.

Press Release Body

When you write a press release, it’s important to write using the third-person point of view.

First-person language is usually reserved for advertisements. You may only use the first person when you’re using quotes from a company, partner, or customer.


Boilerplate is the short paragraph that provides information about the company or organization in the release. It’s always placed in the last paragraph of the press release. Boiler plate simply provides readers with your business details.

Add an About Us or About [Company] to separate it from the body of the release so that readers can understand that it’s distinct from the release’s details.

Your Contact Info

It is essential to include your contact information

How else will potential customers and interested journalists contact you if they want more information about your organization, products or services?

How to Write an SEO Press Release

Writing an SEO-friendly release begins with choosing your keywords. Start with Google Keyword Planner to discover the search volume of your targeted keywords. Include them in your –

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Content

But how to avoid getting a Google penalty for keyword stuffing?

Use LSI keywords, which are keywords similar to your primary keywords. My favorite free SEO tool to find LSI keywords is LSIGraph.

SEO Press Release Cheat Sheet:

  • Offer solutions
    Offer a practical solution to a problem your target audience has.
  • Don’t Ask Questions – Give Them Answers
    Press releases are about announcing news, your message must be clearly stated. Questions make your reader lose interest because they’re reading your press release for facts.
  • Always Use Images in Your SEO Press Release.
    Also optimize your image SEO  by using keyword image ALT tags and descriptions to help the search engines to understand how relevant your release is to certain search terms.
  • NO Promotional Messages
    Your press release will simply be rejected by the media outlets; if it looks like an advertorial – no one will pick it up.

5 Types of Press Releases

Important: there isn’t just one type of press release, there are 5 types of releases that you’ll use depending on the news you’re reporting.

1) General News

General news should be newsworthy – announcing something new that’s happening in the company or organization issuing the press release.

2) Launching

Are you working on a new project, announcing a new product, or publicizing a major change? Write a release publicizing the service/product launch.  :

3) Staff Announcement

Staff changes? Someone coming on board or leaving for greener pastures? Use a staff announcement press release.

4) Event

Do you have an event and need more exposure? An event press release will get your news publicized.

5) Product

This is distinct from the product launch release. Utilize the product press release to cover details about your product’s specifications, benefits, and what makes it better/different or unique.

Make sure that your product PR is not written like promotional material, it won’t go anywhere if it does.

Penalty Proof Your SEO Press Release On Google

Google penalizes excessive links that aren’t beneficial to readers. But you can easily avoid getting penalized by Google while still enjoying the traffic opportunities of strategic linking by making some of your release’s links No Follow.

By adding no-follow to your links, Google bots won’t “count” the link; but you’ll still get valuable referral traffic from those links (and there is strong evidence that “no follow” links still benefit your domain).

Free or Paid Press Release Distribution?

If this is your first attempt at using a press release as part of your marketing strategy, you’re probably tempted to use free press release services.

But consider this.

Free PR services won’t guarantee distribution to major news services – as a matter of fact your press release will frequently be posted on their own website and go no farther than that.

There’s no need to break the bank, mid-tier PR services can give you serious bang for your buck. Many of them will distribute your release to ReutersAssociated Press (AP)Google NewsABCCBS,FOX, and even Yahoo News. Critically, with a paid PR service you’ll often get a distribution report with your live links listed.

Ballistic Bells Will Write Your Press Release

You’re busy, writing good copy is difficult, and you have no idea where to begin – no problem.

Contact Ballistic Bells for a brilliant, Google safe SEO press release that will increase brand awareness and create buzz that will increase brand awareness and attract more traffic to your website .



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