If you’re in the world of PR and you haven’t hugged a panda bear in the past 30 days, you’re missing a very big opportunity.

Panda 4.0 is the latest change to Google’s algorithm, the ‘secret sauce’ that determines which pages will feature in search results and how highly they rank. And these updates, along with many smaller iterations, are a key part of the search engine’s armory as it seeks to continually improve its ability to provide searchers with the most relevant results, pushing poor quality, spammy content lower down results pages.

Now, let me hear you roar like a panda, if you deal with companies that really don’t care about their Google ranking?  Over the sound of crickets all I can say is that I’m not surprised.

So, why the sudden love of Pandas from the PR community? Read on to find out why.

According to Google, what are the characteristics of a high quality web page? Well, some of the main characteristics that Google feels are important to the quality of a web page are; trust, value, written for searchers (rather than second guessing what might rank well), comprehensively covering a topic and originality.  These are elements most of searchers would probably use to define a quality page.

Since May, Google has introduced Panda 4.0 and it greatly benefits web sites that have solid public relations and professionally written content. The sites that are going to rank better keep their blogs updated with valuable content and are using social media to keep the conversation original, current and relevant.

Google is making strong writers the real heroes of the new online world. More than ever, the focus is on what’s interesting - funny, weird, horrifying or uplifting - rather than a bunch of arbitrary words that don’t have anything to do with your brand or business.

What makes your story unique and newsworthy? Whatever the subject of your press release, ask yourself why people should care. No longer can you get away with cramming words in the release, hoping people will get tricked into noticing your story. You have to write a great press release about your product/service so it spreads around the web on its own.

What’s truly interesting about your piece? Is it really news, or just fluff? If you don’t know, you’ll find out soon enough when your press release spreads or flops.

In short, like no time before in history, search engine optimization falls to the realm of public relations.  If you work in public relations today, not only should you be measured on quality, targeted published messages, but you can also, for the first time, be measured on Google ranking improvement.

Not only is the work of a public relations professional all about getting those killer articles, it’s now very clearly integrated into online marketing success.

Thank you Google, ranking now make sense to everyone who searches (especially the ones among us that appreciate good writing).