Demand for Public Relations Agencies up After Google’s Penguin 2.0

Impact PR, one of the more active Auckland Public Relations agencies in

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), has reported a surge in inquiries from clients hit hard by Google’s Penguin 2.0 update.

Despite being the third in a series of seemingly innocently named algorithm updates (behind Panda and Penguin 1.0), the May 2013 Penguin 2.0 update took aim at so called black hat SEO techniques.

‘Black hat’ techniques refer to SEO where covert methods of were employed as an artificial means of bolstering the number of back links to a site artificially.

Those sites which were hit hard, found their prized rankings dropping from page one to ‘page obscurity’ (in other words any page which was not number one) literally overnight.

If we calculate the cost to those penalised businesses, the aggregated loss in revenue is significant on a global scale.

The trust has been broken and now needs to be repaired.

While SEO consultants worldwide scramble to interpret the reality of Penguin 2.0, what has become clear is the need for businesses and brands to establish their credibility in the eyes of the search engine.

Google is able to establish credibility by placing more emphasis on high ranking news sites. We, as consumers trust news sites because by their nature they seek to communicate the ‘truth’. Failure on their part to report the truth has repercussions within the communities they exist in and this self-monitoring imperative provides a useful safety net for Google to build their trust network on.

According to Mark Devlin at Auckland PR firm Impact PR, those hit hard by Penguin 2.0 can use Google’s new Disavow Tool (with extreme caution) to erase their ‘black hat’ history and once again take their place on the light side of SEO.

Once their history of errant activity has been purged, website owners can begin to start again.

With the closing of gaping loopholes in the algorithm, Google now has brand managers tightly reined in.

The natural follow up strategy of marketers is to adhere to Google’s prescription for ‘good behaviour’ and seek links of credibility to show Google that they can, once again, be trusted.

This says Devlin, is where skilled public relations agencies come in.

“Marketing managers should look for a PR agency skilled in editorial public relations (as opposed to recent trends of marketing tools such as ‘activations’ or just events)” he says.

“Often those that truly understand the nature of journalism and its interaction with public relations are former journalists themselves who have worked in media and know that for a story to be credible it must balance commercialism and objectivity”.

“We have seen the same backlash from consumers when corporate brands bastardise their social media for nefarious purposes – they simply lose valuable brand equity in a very public way” says Devlin.

Devlin believes that the path to developing credibility in the eyes of Google must be approached in the same way key messages are tailored for the target market of any brand.

“With Google retaining control over online marketing for the foreseeable future, a return to the ‘old-school’ principles that journalists have cherished for decades will become a necessity for marketers”