The recent unsubstantiated Google acquisition news story that spread like wildfire has prompted people to question how PR Web could release press releases without proper verification. The fake news about Google acquiring ICOA, a WiFi company flooded Google News and other news websites probably by someone with vested interests in a bid to boost the price of ICOA stocks.Although PR Web was compelled to issue a statement claiming that the news article was fraudulent and not authorized by ICOA, questions are being raised on several other press releases and articles that PR Web claims to have verified before online publication. One example of such a press release finding its way into search results is of Viagra. An advertisement titled “Levitra Buy Viagra” claims that the website is a licensed and legal European online pharmacy on the left side of the screen even while the American flag along with wording stating that it is a Canadian online pharmacy adorns the right side.
It is difficult to understand how such an ad and press release can be reviewed and approved by PR Web. Advertisers can get their press releases displayed on Google News by opting for specific packages offered by PR Web. In addition, paying higher sums of money can ensure that such releases get published on other respected news outlets such as the Associated Press, Oregonian, New York Times, etc.
This affliction is not only restricted to Google. Other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo too have been displaying unsubstantiated press releases and articles. While Google has touted its latest Penguin update as being equipped to fight spam and fake websites, the fact that such information finds top spot in related searches seems to indicate that the Penguin has failed to do its duty for Google News.
The Penguin update does not seem to apply to Google News or that it has been unable to identify and isolate hacked websites unlike Google Web Search that seems to be better armed at combating spam. An identical Viagra press release was actually published in the online version of the Houston Chronicle a month before it began popping up in Goggle News.
Unfortunately, other respected online news websites such as the San Francisco Chronicle and the Daily Mail too distribute PR Web’s articles and press releases probably under the impression that they have been verified by PR Web. People can easily purchase links by buying various press release packages offered by PR Web. Since Google does not penalize such links, advertisers get a boost in their rankings while PR Web fails to verify the authenticity of such press releases.
In fact, Google News managed to display the fake takeover press release prominently on their own results for a long time even when other search engines provided reports of denials on their top pages.
Google needs to pull up its socks in displaying Google News results. On the other hand, PR Web seems to have a tough time in substantiating press releases from companies that seem to promote spam or have hacked genuine sites.