60 free press release sites tested – a detailed review

  1. Do journalists and bloggers actually use the press releases on free sites for news?
  2. Would the release appear on Google News?
  3. Would the release appear in a Google web search?
  4. How easy to use are free release sites?
  5. What help (if any) are free press release sites for link building?
  6. Could we use the sites to help ‘own’ the search results for a targeted phrase?

About half of the sites got our press releases into Google web search

How we carried out the review

Firstly, we located all the free active PR distribution sites that we could find and then issued a series of press releases on each site. To make this a realistic test we used ‘real’ press releases containing news about our PR agency or client news. In total, we issued four releases using the sites (two releases about clients and two about Vitis PR). Each time we issued a release, we reviewed the results, only including the sites that we felt performed well in subsequent tests. The table below shows how many releases were issued in each ’round’:

  • Release 1: issued to 54 sites
  • Release 2: issued to 30 sites
  • Release 3: issued to 16 sites
  • Release 4: issued to 12 sites

As we uploaded each release, we looked for ease of use, additional complementary services, paid-for upgrades and whether registration was required to use the service. Each release was amended slightly so that we could identify if it were covered by other sites we would be able to identify which source they had got it from.

After the releases were uploaded, we monitored for online coverage of the releases (we weren’t expecting any print or broadcast media coverage!). Specifically, we looked at:

  1. Did the release appear on the site (i.e. was it accepted by the service)?
  2. Was the release covered elsewhere on the web or in Google News?
  3. Was the page containing the release indexed by Google and stored in its cache?
  4. How high in Google search results did the release appear when searching for a phrase in the release?
  5. What sort of links did the releases generate (if any)?

In reviewing the sites we limited ourselves to the free elements of each site’s services only (many services offer paid-for extras, but this review is all about what you can get for zero spend).

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