The constantly growing crop of free newswires springing up across the web is raising more questions than answers for many of the B2B marketing folks we talk to these days: “Do these sites work?”, “What’s the catch?”, “Should I bother using them and, if so, then which ones are worth the effort?” are amongst the most frequently raised questions on our forums and at our seminars right now. So what’s the score?

Free newswires may claim to offer free “distribution” services what the vast majority of them really offer is free publishing: they’re not really distributing your story in the same way that a paid for service like prnewswire.com or businesswire.com would. So long as this is understood, choosing which free newswires to publish to becomes relatively easy.

Golden rule number one: look for signs that your chosen free newswire ticks the right boxes with major news aggregators like Google news or NewsNow. Most free services boast “distribution partnerships” with the big aggregators and will prominently display the logos of the best known on their site. The more aggregators monitoring the site you publish to, the greater your chances of appearing in online search (Google news, Yahoo News, etc).

Golden rule number two: try to publish to a site that allows you to hyperlink back to your own site. Many free services allow you to do this at the end of your news in the details section but what you’re really looking for is a site that allows you to link back to your site in the body text of your news story: back linking, is one of the best SEO strategies you can do to boost your search engine rankings.

Golden rule number three: learn to spot the pitfalls. Is the news site you are publishing to using your content to drive traffic to your competitors? If the site does not allow back linking it may be using your own keywords to drive contextual advertising and / or Google AdSence content. Before you publish to a news site for the fist time, see how the site treats other news already posted. Danger areas to look out for are keywords used to drive third party ad programmes or AdWords on the page. If these features seem to dominate, publishing to this site may be doing more harm than good.

Bottom line: there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But knowing this doesn’t stop us marketing types squaring the occasional deal over a table at The Ivy, and neither should it stop us taking advantage of some of the free publishing offers out there. So long as we accept the obvious limitations of what’s on offer for free, posting to one or two of the better wire services is, at worst, unlikely to do any harm. At best, you might just be taking the first steps towards developing a mature SEO strategy for your business.

Free newswires: The good, the bad and the ugly Here’s our review of the best, and the worst, free news publishing sites for your content. Click their logos to jump over to any of them.

pressreleasepointstarstarstar

A popular and credible looking news publisher only open to content providers after their first submission has been accepted. This site ticks the quality and structure options that most of the main aggregators look for and a link back to your site is available in the details section at the end of a news story.

inewswirestarstarstar

An element of editorial discretion from the folks behind this service adds weight to i-newswire’s claim to be “committed to publishing quality content”.  So long as it’s well structured and follows the standard rules of news writing, your story is likely to make the grade.  Approvals take about two hours. Service claims 24 news distribution “partners” including moreover, MSN and Feedzilla.

prlogstarstarstar

The ability to include clickable links inside the body text of your news story means submissions to this site could have some positive impact on your SEO. In addition, PRLog’s scheduling tool means you can time bomb your news output up to two weeks ahead.

clickpressstarstarstar

Some editorial checks keep this newswire “PR Spam” free and ensure that content ticks all the right boxes for the web spiders at popular news sites like Moreover, Google and NewsNow

pressaboutstarstar

Good editorial control managed within the familiar WordPress interface means this wire is easy for existing WordPress bloggers to use and popular with the WordPress community.

newswiretodaystarstar

Cross linking with its partner business PR Zoom in the UK, NewsWire Today’s free service could offer a good home for news with genuine transatlantic relevance, but adding logos or hyperlinks comes at a price here and, unless you upgrade, surfers reading your news will also be presented with Google AdSense targeted adds from companies that may not be too dissimilar to your own.

freepressreleasestar

Free means less than 3000 characters at this site, which is more than enough for any news story, but  hyperlinks and images can’t be included without upgrading from free to paid for. One real turn off may be this site’s contextual ad policy, turning your own keywords into ad links for others.

pressboxstar

Operating since 1999, this is one of the longest established news distribution sites out there, but it’s been slumbering in recent months while others have incorporated social apps like twitter or RSS readers. Still listing the long defunct Virgin Radio as a “recent customer”, this service may have had its day.

ecommwirestar

 In such a cluttered market, dedicating a wire to one specific type of news seems like a good idea. Except that little or no editorial checks mean that e-commerce news posted to this site sits alongside online jewellery operations pushing Dolly Parton rhinestones and shady insurance companies targeting those of us who’ve been injured at work. Shame

prdotcomstar

News is well categorised here but the free service offers no opportunity to link  back to your site. The most likely outcome of posting news here may be offers to buy a listing in the business directory that supports pr.com’s free news service.

More: Have you used any of the free publishing or distribution services mentioned here? Leave a comment if you think we’ve dropped a clanger and mis-rated a service, or if there are alternative services you think should be listed too.

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