Your Merchant Cash Advance Press Release May be Hurting You

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Part of keeping up with the merchant cash advance industry means reading up on the press releases published online, but it’s not such an easy job. Legions of funders, ISOs, and lead generators are competing for valuable real-estate in search results and they’ll use every trick in the book to get it. It almost always comes with a price and these tricks don’t always work. By tricks here, I’m referring to using optimized anchor text in press releases as a way to build backlinks.

spamHave you ever seen a press release with thin information but lots of embedded links that say something like “best small business loan companies”? There’s a reason for that. These companies are trying to manipulate PageRank, a Google search ranking factor that calculates the value of the page the link is on, calculates the value of the website it’s on, uses the anchor text as a signal of what the page is about, and then passes that value onto the destination page. PRWeb has a solid PageRank of 7 out of 10 and last I checked, they don’t nofollow the links. That means a webpage can gain some serious ranking points by using optimized anchor text in a press release. But that’s just on PRWeb’s domain. Consider the fact that press releases are usually syndicated to tens, hundreds, or even thousands of other websites, most of which will keep the links intact, and multiplying the value being passed to the destination site.

One press release could result in hundreds of powerful ranking signals for the keyword, “best small business loan companies.” Now if there were on-page signals for that keyword and additional external factors at work, then there’d be no reason for that page not to rank high in search results for best small business loan companies. And so anyone not totally asleep at the wheel has been using that method for months, if not for years.

There’s only one problem. Google’s Director of web spam (yes, this is a real title) had said back in December of 2012 that links in press releases shouldn’t count.

matt cutts spam

The Internet went wild over this statement especially since his choice of words implied that there is a chance they did count, he just wouldn’t expect them too. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) diehards decided this was a battle worth fighting and optimized anchor text in press releases became more used than ever before, that is until Google decided to take action.

Wouldn’t expect was apparently proven to mean definitely does. The fact is that links in press releases were passing PageRank and the sites on the other end of them were getting valuable ranking signals. That’s why to this day we see merchant cash advance releases read like an itemized list of keywords on PRWeb…

The best merchant cash advance company has announced a new program to help provide bad credit business financing to restaurants in need of a fast cash loan.

If you’ve stopped reading the article at this point, you’re in trouble. The gravy train is no longer running express. Less than two weeks ago, Google conceded that optimized anchor text in press releases works and are a form of cheating the system. That means that overuse or quite possibly any usage of a keyword rich anchor in a release means your website is at risk of a rankings penalty. Google advises that in order to be safe, webmasters should nofollow the links. There’s just one problem with that; Credible wire and release services do not under any circumstances allow companies to code in HTML attributes in their releases, rendering this feat impossible.

That means the burden of nofollowing the links is on the release services and syndicating websites, something that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. Release services have not been shy about the potential SEO benefits they can provide, with some going so far as to offer paid consulting services to clients on how to optimize their anchor text for search engines. To them, a crackdown on links in releases means a crackdown on a very profitable portion of their business model.

Watch Matt Cutt’s explanation of links in advertorials:

Google offers the following guidance on link schemes:

The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
  • Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
  • Using automated programs or services to create links to your site

Additionally, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines. Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that violate our guidelines:

  • Text advertisements that pass PageRank
  • Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank
  • Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites. For example:
    There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.
  • Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
  • Links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites, for example:
    Visitors to this page: 1,472
    car insurance
  • Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites
  • Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature, for example:
    Thanks, that’s great info!
    – Paul
    paul’s pizza san diego pizza best pizza san diego

Note that PPC (pay-per-click) advertising links that don’t pass PageRank to the buyer of the ad do not violate our guidelines. You can prevent PageRank from passing in several ways, such as:

  • Adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the < a > tag
  • Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

You can watch John Mueller, one of Google’s lead Webmaster Trends Analyst answer questions to Google’s new link policies in the hangout below:

There are other purposes for publishing thin releases as both Google and Bing can decide to display a snippet of the release on the first page of the results for the keywords used in the announcement. So no, it’s not just about links, at least that isnt’t all of the SEO benefit to be gained.

bing news

These news snippets can last up to a week, helping companies that might not be ranking well jump to the front of the line for exposure.

Link Removal
We’re not going to call anyone out by name but ever since Google Penguin 1.0 was released, many merchant cash advance companies and payment companies have hired link removal experts to identify bad links for them and are paying them to have them taken down. The only way to take down a link is to ask the webmaster hosting the site to take it down. Unfortunately, this has led to some companies finding the cheapest link removal service they can find, resulting in a poorly qualified consultant setting off to remove 100% of a site’s links instead of just the bad ones. We know this firsthand because we have had no shortage of e-mails from people claiming to be the hired link removal representative of a merchant cash advance related company.

The e-mails usually look like this:

Hello sir,
I am contacting you on behalf of Cash Advance Funder ABC and recently we have been instructed by Google to remove all of our links to have a penalty removed. Therefore we are asking that you remove our spam link from your website. We appreciate your immediate assistance in this matter.

Sincerely
sfahfdspfu547@spamlinkremovalservicecompanyseobest.com

A great way to make sure your website never ranks ever again is to remove all your good links too. We can assure you that links on this website are not bad.

So…
In conclusion, if your hired SEO consultant is still banging away on optimized anchor text in press releases, there’s a good chance now that they’ll be causing damage over the long term. Press releases are for the purpose of making important company announcements and Google is on to anyone using them for any other reasons.

Your press releases might be hurting you with Google. Bing on the other hand…


Other SEO related articles on Merchant Processing Resource:


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Last modified: September 28, 2013
Sean Murray


Category: ACH Advances, business cash advance, Industry News, internet marketing, marketing, merchant cash advance, merchant financing, merchant funding, merchant loans, MPR Authored, seo

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