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One theory posed by a SEO contractor that I work with suggested that it may be a result of a few press releases that got syndicated across multiple sites. A search in Google for "[BRAND NAME] affiliate program contest" with quotes returns some 18,000 results.
What do you think? Could this be the culpret?
I don't want this thread to get side tracked on to the question on if there was a Dewey Update or not. Rather just on the question: Can online press releases or their syndication hurt your rankings?
and whether the content was duplicated on your website
Could this really be it - that we are getting penalized by posting our news on our site?