In my last post, Beyond the Optimized Press Release – What is the Media Looking for?, I described the key components of a News Room and shared some tips for making sure your website is media friendly. At the Search Engine Academy, we teach about the value of writing optimized press releases as part of a search engine optimization strategy.

One of the components that editors like to see on a website is a consolidated library of press releases, which is great except for the fact that it causes a duplicate content issue.  The original version of the press release was published through whatever service you use and if you post the exact same content on your website you are creating duplicate content and this could cause problems down the road because your site could end up being viewed as a duplicate content offender.

On a mission to find an answer that would enable my client to set up the best news room possible without creating a duplicate content issue, I turned to Google and my colleagues to find the best approach. I got pretty excited when I read about an option to use a syndication source tag as a way to cite the original content, but was deflated pretty quickly when I learned that it had been depreciated  and isn’t considered to be the best approach.

After exploring many options including:

Option 1: Create unique versions of the press release for each distribution channel: a wire version, website version, and a social media version.  Fresh content and different links.

Pros:

  • No duplicate content issue
  • Additional content that can help with SEO

Cons:

  • Resource intensive and time consuming to create multiple versions
  • It may be difficult to make them appreciably different depending on the scope of the announcement
Option 2: Update the robots.txt file to block the content in the news room from being indexed.

Pros:

  • No duplicate content issue
  • No need to invest in creating additional content

Cons:

  • Other content such as white papers and case studies that are stored in the same location as the press releases would not be indexed and they will lose the SEO value of this content.
Option 3:  Leave the copies of the press releases on their site add links to the original version of the news release.

Pros:

  • Easy to make minor changes to the exisiting press releases
  • No need to invest in creating additional content
  • The SEO value with other content in the newsroom remains in tact

Cons:

  • There is no real SEO benefit from it

By nature, presses releases will be syndicated, Google “knows” there will be copies of it all over the place, and it’s very common practice for companies to (including very large and savvy companies) to publish a copy of the release on their own domain.

If you’re concerned about duplicate content, and it’s not important to you to have a copy of the press release on your website, the cleanest approach is to publish the press release using a service such as PRWeb and include a link back to your website.   If you want to publish the press release on your site, you can evaluate the options here and make your decision based on how conservative you want to be.

In my client’s case (short term), we decided to go with option 3 in addition to writing a blog post in addition to the press release to expose the information to a different audience and get the SEO benefit.

What are your thoughts on the subject of press releases and duplicate content?

Until next time,

Cheers!