Google May Treat Press Releases Different From Other Content

Google tries to distinguish press releases from other types of content and may treat them differently in search results, says Search Advocate John Mueller.

This topic is discussed during the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on February 19.

SEO Michael Lewittes mentions to Mueller that he regularly sees news outlets cover press releases and rank above the original source.

Sometimes the original source is a reputable organization such as the Associated Press or Reuters.

Lewittes asks how can news outlets republish the same information and rank above those sources?

In response, Mueller says it may have to do with how Google processes press releases. He shares that they may be handled differently from other types of content.

Google’s John Mueller on Press Releases in Search Results

Mueller says Google tries to recognize situations where the same article is being republished and tries to treat it “accordingly” in search.

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“It’s hard to say. I think in most cases we try to recognize situations where exactly the same article is being republished and then to treat that accordingly in search by showing the original or the one we think it might have come from.

But there are lots of cases where we can’t recognize that completely. And it’s sometimes a matter of – this content is here but someone also wrote about the same topic somewhere else – and then we have those two viewpoints.

I don’t think there’s anything technical or anything specific that is happening there where it’s like – if it gets republished here then we just take that one.

But any time you have content that is syndicated it can happen that our systems don’t recognize that we should be showing this version instead of the other version.”

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SEO Robb Young joins the conversation and tries to pull more information out of Mueller regarding this topic.

He plainly asks if there is any difference between a press release and other types of content. In Google’s estimation, that is.

This is where Mueller says Google tries to recognize press releases from other content. It’s understood that press releases are pieces of content that get republished across many sites.

Without being too specific, Mueller says Google acts “accordingly” to the understanding that press releases will get published elsewhere.

“I think to some extent we probably try to recognize press releases and understand that these pieces of content that are just republished in lots of places and try to act accordingly to that.

But otherwise it’s just content. It’s kind of like if I write a blog post or a news article, it’s essentially a piece of content to us.”

Mueller then goes on to offer some insight into how press releases are treated in Google News.

He’s not sure if Google News treats press releases differently from search results. But, at one point, Google News did try to understand when multiple sites were writing about the same topic.

“I don’t know if Google News does something slightly different than web search in that regard though. So that might be something that kind of plays in there.

I know from some book about Google a long time back where, in the early days of Google News, they definitely tried to recognize the situation where people were writing about the same topic, or writing with the same content, and trying to understand does that make this topic or this article more important than other topics.

But within web search it’s mostly a matter of these are different HTML pages and we find content there and we try to index it.”

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Hear Mueller’s response in the video below: