It was recently confirmed that Google have changed the webmaster guidelines when it comes to link schemes. The main rule they have concentrated on is the keyword rich anchor text within press releases and the links should include the nofollow attribute. Similar to that of paid advertisements, this ensures that paid links do not pass on any value to search engines.
The precise line in the updated link schemes guidelines is:
“Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.”
I researched more about this and have found a Google Hangout video by John Mueller who is the head webmaster trends analyst, it is clear that Google are turning to press releases as advertisements hence the change in link scheme. Press releases will still drive a lot of traffic to your website but take note of these new guidelines and instead of linking with your keyword use brand name, url or generic anchor text as these will still carry the follow attribute, therefore passing on PageRank.
Another interesting point is that in the past Matt Cutts has publicly came out and said that links within articles and press releases do not pass link juice, when many people who work in the SEO world know that it is not true in the slightest!
It seems to me that Google are taking a more direct approach about paid advertising and link schemes but also to the overuse of paid links within articles. Take a look at the Google Hangout video with John Mueller and let us know what you think.
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Blog Post by Jordan Whitehead