Google has changed the rules on how press releases use links and keywords, and according to a zdnet.com story, this could mean big trouble for some PR agencies. Some of the current techniques of repeating keywords, optimizing anchor text for links, or posting news releases to multiple sites will now be considered a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines and put a company in the dog house. The search engine giant just may be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

This is Google’s response to companies attempting to raise their page rankings and secure greater organic search results by using press releases. It doesn’t end there, however, as other forms of digital communication may fall under the same rules. For example, a blog post with links may be flagged by Google because of its focus on the topic and links to supporting images and data.

What galls Google the most is any kind of paid promotion (outside of Adwords and Adsense of course) that may artificially boost a company’s place in search engine rankings. Trying to stuff as many keywords on a page as possible, buying links to your site, and paying for Twitter followers for example, are all guaranteed to catch Google’s attention and have your site demoted to the nether regions of the search index.

The upshot of the article is that, in essence, Google is becoming a competitor to PR. Instead of using digital media to promote a brand or service effectively, the use may actually cause page rankings to fall and essentially lower a company’s online presence – the opposite of the intended consequence.

Clearly, this will affect PR strategies geared solely around press releases the most. As we have stated repeatedly over the years, press releases alone are not a PR strategy. Integrating targeted strategic media relations, publicity, events, social media and digital media in a synergistic approach to PR will yield greater results – and possibly keep a company out of Google’s wrath.