There’s a new dirty word for those who write and those who buy press releases: Panda 4.0. Google’s new algorithm helps prevent sites with bad content from ranking high in search results.

That sounds great, right? After all, sites that belch out any ol’ garbage with a few keywords stuffed here and there should be penalized

But, as some industry experts say, it seems like big bad Google is huffing and puffing until the PR sites’ houses blow down. Since Panda 4.0 came out, sites like PRWeb.com, PR Newswire, BusinessWire and PRLog lost significant rankings in Google, says Barry Swartz of Search Engline Land. In some cases, traffic fell as much as 71 percent. That, in turn, makes it tough on distribution partners of some of these PR sites, like Bloomberg, because they get paid to host the press releases.

It all sounds a bit scary for business press release writing services. It shouldn’t be. As the moral of the fable goes, if you cut corners when building your house, then don’t be surprised when you house is blown to bits – and cranking out keyword-stuffed drivel is like building a house with straw and wood.

PR Lumped in with SEO

As Tom Foremski of ZDNet says, “Anything that is done to try to game the Google algorithm is considered against its rules of service and can result in a ban from the search index.

“This means that traditional PR and marketing practices fall into the SEO category, in Google’s view of the world.”

In other words, if you cram your press releases with too many links and nonsensical keywords, then you may get spanked by Google.

Foremski says these PR sites had become a way for companies to increase their visibility because they’re sent to high-ranking web sites, thus creating many backlinks. Remember, Google loves links from these top sites because they’re considered more trustworthy.

But PR firms and the like, Foremski says, are lumped in with SEO firms, “because they all work to boost visibility for their clients through paid activities rather than through merit.”

Go the Extra Mile

So what’s a guy gotta’ do if he’s seeking out business press release writing services – ditch the PR machine altogether?

Not so fast.

Press releases are still a vitally important tool for reaching the masses and should remain an important part of your digital marketing strategy. You just can’t cut corners.

“In a post-Panda 4.0 world, press releases will have to be treated like articles or guest posts,” Resolution Media says. “They will also need to be optimized for traffic, information clarity and content quality, rather than for link acquisition.”

Use no-follow links. Add charts and graphics. Use plain-English instead of industry jargon. You know, provide actual, useful information.

“Google wants to send users to web pages that are uniquely useful, not just unique and not just useful,” says Russ Jones of Moz. “Unfortunately, press release sites uniformly fail on this front. On average, only 50 percent of (Google) reviewers found that BusinessWire.com content contained insightful analysis.”

That compares to sites like Wikipedia (84 percent), EDU (79 percent) and government websites (94 percent), which reviewers found far more useful.

When in doubt, go the extra mile. And check out the examples of questions Google reviewers were asked. Because when Google comes to your house, you better hope your PR house is made with bricks.