Do free press release sites work?

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of free press release sites. It’s tempting to think that all you have to do is whip up a press release and blast it off to the universe. Better yet, if you could use a press release site that’s free, you’d be famous and a little richer.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t that simple. Free press release sites don’t work. Why? Reporters don’t read them. There is no way a reporter is going to log into a no name wire distribution service when they have access to legitimate newswire services. Not one single legitimate reporter will look at your your press release on a free, low quality newswire service.

Why do these sites exist?

These sites were created to either upsell you on a premium version (also of dubious value) or to post your content on their site simply to use your content. These sites will publish your press release and Google will often list that page in their search results.  Their hope is that someone will Google something related to your press release and your release will show up in Google’s search results.

When a visitor who does a search through Google lands on your release, they’ll be greeted by a bunch of ads. These services often cram as many ads as possible into the page so that they can try to make money when someone does happen to find your release.

What about SEO?

Not long ago, there was at least some logical reason to submit your release to free press release distribution sites.  You could include links in your release that back to your website. That way, when these sites published the news release, you’d get a guaranteed link from the site. Plus, you might get many more links as spammy content farms might copy and paste your release and put it on their site too. You might end up getting a ton of links from these sites. When it comes to SEO, links are gold as they help you rank higher for keywords.

But this logic was more wishful thinking than a solid SEO link building strategy. Most of these sites didn’t have much authority and Google often didn’t index their pages.

The problem is that now these links are worth less than nothing. They never were really worth much before, but now they might actually hurt your rankings. With Google’s recent algorithm updates, they are penalizing sites that have a large number of “unnatural links”. So if you submit your release to a bunch of low quality release services and links back to your site, you may end up hurting your rankings.

So if you are going to submit a press release, stick with the services that have big distributions. Of course, those services often don’t work all that well either, but that’s a post for another day.