Did Google Panda 4.0 Go After Press Release Sites?

Nine days ago when Google released Panda 4.0 – which aims to filter out “thin” content from top rankings – we focused our attention on the big Winners & Losers charts, Since then, some have noted that press releases may have also been hit big time.
Using SearchMetrics, I looked at the top Press Release sites and checked if they lost any SEO visibility on a large scale since Panda 4.0 hit, and PRWeb.com, PR Newswire, BusinessWire and PRLog all seem to have lost significant rankings in Google.
PRNewsWire.com seems to have shown a significant drop in SEO visibility, dropping ~63% after Panda 4.0 was released:

PRWeb.com, another major press release distribution web site, also saw a huge drop, ~71%:

BusinessWire.com saw a ~60% drop after Panda:

PRLog.org saw a big drop in mid 2013 but then another dip right after this past Panda update:

Sean Malseed from SEER Interactive used SEM Rush metrics to document a lot of the same patterns I documented with SearchMetrics data. They also documented specific cases, of specific press releases that recently ranked well and now are no longer on the first page.
Only Losers Really Know If They Lost
As we said in the Winners and Losers report, lists like this aren’t perfect. The sites above may have had gains and drops for other reasons; less visibility this week because last week they were visible for different news stories, for example.
It’s also worth remembering that this is a sample of search terms. The only way to really know if any update has hurt or helped you is to look at your search-driven traffic from Google, rather than particular rankings or lists like this, which have become popular after Google updates. If you’ve seen a significant increase, you’ve probably been rewarded by it. A big decrease? Then you were probably hit.

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