• http://ftc.gov/ MonopolizedSearch

    Google has become a toilet lately. Adwords shoved down users throats, Google shopping results consuming 20% of the screen, five year old YouTube videos outranking good quality sites and Google images shoving the only quality content derived from Google Search even further down the page. And if you are one of the lucky webmasters, you are not drowned out by domain crowding that is so excessive that 70 of the top 100 results belong to one domain.

    I do not pity Google. In their mad dash to shakedown webmasters for even the smallest of change, they lost their focus on quality. The new Google is all about money and crushing small businesses, just in time for the most important time of the year for etailers – the holidays. No pity whatsoever.

    No shopping for me through Google this year. And my family and friends have been warned too. If they get me ANYTHING from Google or Amazon, it gets returned. Period.

  • Markus Jalmerot

    Excellent coverage of PrWeb and poor quality in some recent news articles. Hopefully, PrWeb/Vocus will do more background checks in the future.

  • http://profiles.google.com/classichits1 Carla Ackley

    About time. PRWeb.com sales woman is totally rude and has a huge ego. Told them that one day the mighty could fall. I sent her a copy of this with her own words, ”

    You may want to show this to your clients if they are looking for a service to
    provide them with high quality results.” haha

    I like the service, and yes you can get get good coverage with the $159 basic PR.
    I dont like the disservice from the sales staff. They do not know how to treat a customer.

  • http://www.postlinearity.com gregorylent

    google news at best is the prime example of life by algorithm, reinforcing lowest common denominator thinking, consensus reality, a simulacrum of reality.

    that it is gamed only increases its “worseness”.

  • ScottyMack

    Yep. I’ve often wondered why Google rewards these links. Perhaps because they are so much more expensive than your standard run of the mill links, Google accepts them as having been paid for by a legitimate company. Then, they actually reward the websites that use PR Web. Websites that are forking out the dough are definitely making it to the top of the SERPs. I’ve never seen a PR Web article that was anything but contrived spam. It’s shocking to me that Google hasn’t brought down the hammer on places like PR Web and websites that use them for their “press releases.”

  • http://twitter.com/joegriffin Joe Griffin

    That was a smacking. Was needed apparently if that type of junk was being allowed in. Unfortunately QA departments will miss things, but the question is “does PR Web leadership condone those spammy releases or have they lost sight of quality as an oversight.” The latter is not an excuse but oversight isn’t the same thing as guilt. I know some good people at Vocus but PR Web is not a best of breed wire service, ie they don’t compete with the quality of say PR Newswire. Hopefully they will address quality. These release services can make a lot of sense if used and managed properly. There is no doubt that these services are being abused and clearly it isn’t being addressed.

  • Alan

    Google is probably not far off completely devaluing these types of links, if they haven’t done so already. The other link building method that needs to be put under the microscope is guest blogging. Want to build a private blog network that even Google can’t de-index just guest post!

  • http://rwwmike.posterous.com Mike Melanson

    Bravo. That was awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonkintzler Jason Kintzler

    Finally. Thank you for telling this story. I’ve been trying to tell my PR industry peers for the past five years. Time for change!

  • Yousee

    Excellent observation and explanation. It seems Bing will soon overcome Google in the coming days.

  • Vinay Kudithipudi

    Very nice and insightful writeup Dan. Amazing to see how companies (ab)use legitimate services for spamming conent.

  • Mark

    With all due respect, you say Google News is screwed up, Search is not? hahaha … top 10 results for the online casino niche are flooded with spam, have a quick look on Google.co.uk and search for ‘live casino’ for example, 2 domains from the top 3 have no content at all, redirect to this 1 site. Same thing is happening with loads of other related key phrases.

    It’s not just Google News, it’s Google in general which is messed up!

  • Don DeMaio

    So, given the above, what is my best source for online news today?

  • http://twitter.com/ilenesmachine ilene Hoffman

    Great bit of research there. Good story!

  • http://www.martinwoods.me.uk/ Martin Woods

    We’ve had quite a few sales calls over the last 6 months, I think they’ve been selling it hard. I believe the last one involved me telling them we don’t use services that allow spam and not to call any more. A good rant article – 100% agree.

  • http://teespring.com/FastPitch Quickest Startup Pitch Ever!!!

    -

    the Google’s total domination of the Web should anyway happen soon

    ps – what the web can do without p0rn and viagra? :)

    -

  • Jeco

    Now Google has corrected it’s result with “gulfnews.com – Google acquisition release was hoax” in the first place. At least they do something. I’m sure Google team is working hard right now to solve it’s “BIG” hole on reputation and it’s system.

  • Markus Jalmerot

    Perhaps PrNewswire.com ? IMHO the articles from PrNewswire are more genuine and less ‘made for SEO purpose’.

  • http://www.delivra.com/ Cody Sharp

    I’ve used both. In most cases, the “fact checking” they do is to spellcheck, make sure there is a person on the other end of the phone and try to upsell. The truth is that both work great for companies that use it appropriately. It also works great for companies that don’t.

  • http://twitter.com/K_J_Designs Keith James Designs

    Google is slapping everyone for paid links but this is OK? How is PRWeb not just another link farm? Google de indexed all the little guys but still promotes PRWeb stories? Just think if all the companies using PRWeb had to disavow their expensive links.

  • AlfredoC

    Good article. I used PR Web once and found my story on a number of spam sites instead of where I wanted it to go. This however, does not absolve the tech media, who ran with the ICOA without apparently doing any verification of their own.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    The ICOA press release is a big, big screw up. Sure, even with the best safeguards shoddy press releases (like the viagra one) are bound to sneak through from time to time. But when something is fake news masquerading as a big break you’d hope that someone would do a little fact checking first.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    I’ve written before about search in general, as well as specifically at Google and Bing, having problems. However, for the vast majority of people, both search engines clearly work well to help people find what they are looking for.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    See my postscript in the story, Google apparently doesn’t count PRWeb links. Though it still considers the content relevant to include in Google News.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Online poker, clearly :)

  • andrefriedmann

    ““What’s the use of PRWeb?,” tweeted Megan McCarthy of Reuters”
    The short answer: Pump and Dump.

  • narg

    Wow, what a bitch this guy has. Makes me wonder what good serachengineland.com has?

  • narg

    Most reputable news agencies always get at least 3 verifications on stories before letting them out. This was a wake up call for many on-line “news” (yes, notice the quotes.) web sites.

  • Pat Grady

    The PR emperor is naked!

  • gerrr!

    It’s why I block PRWeb from my Google News. I won’t stand for crap <– pun.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mr.larry.kim Larry Kim

    couple of comments here. (1) There are many legitimate companies that use PR Web, for legitimate PR purposes. (2) this kind of PR abuse (fake press releases) isn’t unique to PRWeb. for example, on August 24, 2000, Mark Jakob, a former employee, used Internet Wire (also known as MarketWire) to send a fraudulent press release to the news media. The press release falsely reported that Emulex Corporation was suddenly in dire straits; several news outlets picked up the story the next morning, causing Emulex to lose 62% of its value in morning trading.

    In summary: there are some bad apples but that doesn’t mean everything on PRWeb is crap.

  • Belize

    This is a big gaping hole that experts in the news jacking business have been promoting. A news jacking expert was flown in from the U.S. by the local tourism board here and one of the things he trained attendees on was to use press release companies to get placement on Google News. Now we have a multitude of hotels here pumping out advertisements as lame press releases and getting them into Google News. I wish there was way to filter P.R. companies from Google News to avoid the fluff.

  • Kevin O’Doherty

    Agreed Jason – I’ve been trying to do exactly the same thing. Thanks for this Danny!

  • http://profiles.google.com/classichits1 Carla Ackley

    Yes, we do use PRWeb.com for real news releases (mergers, new facilities opening, new product lines,etc..) No viagra stories unless it was truly newsworthy, not just spammy.

  • http://twitter.com/ebernet ebernet

    Thank you for this article! I am amazed by the number f times iPhone unlockers spam solutions using PRWeb and people send the companies money thinking these are legitimate services!

  • Dave Crader

    This is a great post. I get cold calls all the time from Vocus trying to sell me PRweb packages. It’s crazy! They’re always pushing the SEO benefits it will have as well. They don’t mention the backlink and anchor text capacity though. So, i’ll give them that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5300451 Ryan Holeywell

    As a journalist, I blame the newspapers. I don’t know what PRWeb pays them, but I can’t imagine it’s enough to justify the hit to the credibility that comes with running paid-for, fabricated content under a masthead that is supposed to represent integrity.

  • Zach

    Ok, Google doesn’t count the link of prweb.com i can understand that, but what about the links which are distributed on others site network such as yahoo, chron and many more sites? Does Google count those backlinks ?

  • samharrison

    Danny, you take aim at a sand pebble on the beach: PRWeb, BUT the real problem (the tidal wave big problem) is that Google is not accurate and its algorithms are nefarious. Unfortunately, we all have to suffer with Google’s garbage results. Maybe someday it will be beaten, just as Alta Vista, Lycos, Excite, Hotwired, Northern Lights, Webcrawler, GNN were.

  • http://twitter.com/sharithurow sharithurow

    Does anyone remember when PRWeb was a decent place to distribute press releases? I actually remember the time….

  • http://twitter.com/jakeneeley Jake Neeley

    Best, and most truthful, comment yet. Although crap comes via PRWeb it most certainly comes from others. Does Search Engine Land put on SMX… looks like they use PRWeb… http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/10/prweb10049297.htm

    @dannysullivan:disqus I am also curious how you think PRWeb and others can verify the information in a press release, like that in the ICOA/Google release? It certainly wasn’t public knowledge and if they took the time to call all parties mentioned in a release nothing would go out.

  • http://twitter.com/DanInTheCity Dan Hennes

    “Hopefully they will address quality.” This goes against their entire business strategy. If you buy an annual Vocus subscription, you get 365 free PRWeb news releases (1 a day). This does nothing but degrade the quality of their “wire” as most businesses have very little quality news to send in the first place.

  • Owen Engle

    Another group that publishes junk press releases is related to electronic cigarettes. Do a news search for “electronic cigarettes” a see the junk that shows up: free trial offers and 40% off xyz promotions! This truly makes me feel embarrassed about my industry!

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Not everything PRWeb distributes is crap; plenty of legitimate people do use it. But it’s PRWeb that publicly said yesterday that it reviews all releases to protect “integrity.” Many in the SEO space are well-familiar that this simply can’t be so, given the type of crud that is also churned out along with the legit stuff. That’s what I was illustrating here. As for how they can verify if someone really represents a company, yes — they could establish trusted, verified accounts in various ways, if they really wanted and felt this was an important enough issue.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Good point. Potentially, yes.

  • http://twitter.com/jakeneeley Jake Neeley

    I agree that more could be done; to somewhat discount my point earlier about them taking longer to review, I believe they would receive more business overtime by developing that high “integrity.”

    I also think you owe your readers, those how trust your word, another chance to review the industry rather than specifically PRWeb. The title specifically—and the overall message—states PRWeb distributes crap when we both feel it’s not all that and not just them. I know specifically mentioning PRWeb gets eyes to the post in light of the recent events but I feel it would be still had the same newsworthiness had you added “PRWeb, and others.”

    Last thought; thanks for creating overall awesome content! Please don’t think, because of this one remark, that I will discredit your content; you’ve done awesome work and I really appreciate the useful information which I use/share/bookmark weekly.

  • http://twitter.com/WebReDesigner Bruce Arnold

    We gave @PRWeb proof that their press releases from TelxWeb contained baseless claims & outright lies & #PRWeb refused to pull them.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Jake, there was an incident with PRWeb publishing a fake news release about a major acquisition by Google. It explained this away as if this somehow slipped through its usual quality assurances. The reality as I see it is that PRWeb lets a lot of crap routinely through these supposed checks. So, I think it’s fair enough PRWeb is the focus here. It’s not the only player in the space with this type of issue, and maybe in the future I’ll look at others, sure. But I think enough attention has probably been focused on it in general as well as specifically.

  • Dean Dawkins

    Fork in the road time for PRWeb – I’ve used them for many years now and they have been a really great service for SMB’s – nothing but good results personally – however, none of my clients were spamming, they were all “legitimate” news items, etc. Now PRWeb is going to have to tighten their standards, which will hurt sales – or – stay on their current path and put themselves out of business as a “real” option for PR for small companies. They are an easy way to get into Google News, and that’s the primary reason to use them, otherwise…what’s the point?

  • Dean Dawkins

    Five years goes by fast Shari….I still use PRWeb….It’s been a good bargain for my small business clients. The fee keeps most of the spammers out, and the relationship with Vocus/PRNewswire was always a bonus. They’ll have to tighten up their standards and slow down the sales machine, or head right over the cliff. If Google News stops indexing them, then they are done.