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It's Time for PR Agencies to Second-Guess Freebie News Wires
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Many PR agencies — regardless of size or stature — haven't seriously cared about organic SEO. There hasn't been a ton of need by those public relations houses to learn a new trick because as long as its reputation, speed dial, and pitching machine were working and well-oiled, the money still came and the results were still earned. 

And then the Google Zoo decided to open for business. You know? Panda. Penguin. Hummingbird. And whether you fed the animals or not, those little buggers absolutely went wild, crapped on your shoes, and veritably destroyed every ne'er-do-wells' toolkit to twist the Internet into its own spin cycle. They were called "black hat SEO" tactics, and the wunderkinds at Google decided to let these animals out to play. Although they were frequently ignored by the aforementioned PR agencies, it is increasingly becoming more difficult to do so. As I have shared with anyone who will listen, Google is great for PR because it is forcing flacks to become better writers

And now they don't have a choice, as Google Panda is now four times larger, four times meaner, and four times scarier for those same agencies. It all began in 2011 when Google Panda took on Content Farms. With its magical algorithmic mojo, more than 12 percent of all search was affected. Its focus was to target low-quality content and the "spinning of articles." It was so nasty, About.com had to reinvent its content. Wikipedia had to get serious about all that "public editing" stuff. And then PR wire services began sweating. Less than a month later, Panda 2.0 was launched to ensure all the crap content on the Web wasn't missed the first time. PR agencies and wire services? They sweat even more.

From May to November 2011, there were a few minor updates that implemented the Google algorithms internationally, but there was still all that abuse of the Internet for terribly written, keyword-stuffed content. So, the Google 3.0 series showed up. For several months, changes were minor and search was twisted slightly. 

The date was March 2013 and Panda 25 was being discussed (yeah, it's Google, don't ask why the big gap). Matt Cutts, the Clark Kent of the Internet at Google, shared that the pending algorithm was going to hit indexing online but it was no biggie. This is where wire services should have called their mamas, but they didn't think it was necessary because PR agencies didn't let up paying for the services. Panda 26 in July 2013 began rewarding websites in search for good content. Wire services? Nowhere in the mix.

And last week, Google's Panda 4.0 was announced to "have a direct impact on small websites and businesses online," said Captain Cutts. Already, 11 percent of all English traffic has been affected. 

More importantly, PRWeb, iNewswire, PRLog, SBWeb, and even PitchEngine have reported a drop in incoming traffic (a number showing people are finding your website in search on the first two pages) anywhere from 70 to 80 percent! 

Why bring up those PR agencies earlier? Again, Mr. Matt Cutts: 

"The objective is not to 'make your links appear natural; the objective is that your links are natural."

Those agencies with poor content, malevolent linkers, keyword stuffers, and bad writers? Please pick up the white courtesy phone, because you have just been served. Learn to write great content, natural flow, and searchable ideas. If you can't do that, then you need to find someone else who understands the Internet and writing for it as well. The adage is true: There really is more than one way to skin a cat. Problem is, you need to catch the squirrely thing to shave it first. PR agencies — those PR agencies using those free wires — care to play catch? 

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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