Google has now updated its Link Schemes documents in the guidelines saying that it now considers optimized links inside content distributed across other sites as in Articles or Press Releases to be unnatural.
This line from the Google Webmaster Guidelines, specifies the point…
Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.
John Mueller, a Google’s lead Webmaster Trends Analyst has said in the video below that Google will now consider Press Releases with money keyword anchor links that are DoFollow – as unnatural links.
He said that Press Releases are like Advertisements. He suggested that if you wanted to play it safe then, even links that are NOT money keyword links and are URL links, should be NoFollowed.
He went on to say that Press Releases do provide great value. If the News publisher decides to write about you on their website. If the trusted publisher inserts links within a post they write – then those links do not need to be NoFollowed and you can derive a lot of value out of these posts. The stories that are editorially written – are what Google values the most.
Links within the Press Releases themselves – that get distributed across the Web via “News wire” distribution services like SBwire, PRweb, PRbuzz etc. do not pass any value and should be NoFollowed. Although there are contradictions to this statement by way of real case study done by Daniel Tan that you can read about here.
It does look as though Google will be starting to take even more aggressive action against abuse of links within press releases that are paid.
Here is the video. The first 10 minutes are relevant to this update.