As a web business owner you will be well aware that content for your website is good. The more content the better, but of course it must be relevant and of high quality. If you know anything about SEO you know that Google loves content. The problem most webmasters face is how to get the content without writing it yourself, which takes time, or without spending money to pay someone else to do it.
I recently faced this problem. I wanted some fresh content for my site, but beyond sales pages and basic features such as contact information I really didn’t have the experience with the subject matter to produce good content. To get around this problem I came up with a method to attain good quality content, for free, which I could use for my web business site. It’s not the easiest method, but to get good content you sometimes have to work a little harder. This is how I did it.
Step 1: Think about your customer’s needs.
Before chasing content you have to think what sort of content your customers want and what needs they have. Obviously you want people coming to your business site that are interested in what you offer so think about what other things complimentary information they might be interested in. For example if you are running a website that sells tennis racquets then you should fill your site with quality articles on how to improve your tennis game.
If you can provide valuable free content then your traffic will increase but it’s important to make sure it’s the right kind of traffic. By providing content that attracts your target market you have the best chance of converting those prospects into customers.
Step 2: Locate the best articles based on customer needs.
Now that you have a good idea what sort of content your potential customers would be interested in you need to get out there and find the best articles to meet this need. Thankfully it’s Google’s job to do this so all you need to do is think like someone that would be searching for content in this area and pump it into Google. The search results at the top should be the best and most relevant content on the subject matter you are looking for. If it’s not then you might need to adjust your search terms until you find some good articles.
The ideal situation is to find a hobbyist fan, someone that writes articles for fun to indulge in their hobby and happens to be an expert too so they write good stuff. You can usually spot these types of websites because they are not professional, after all they are not trying to run a business, they just want to help others out while they enjoy their hobby. So continuing the tennis example you should hopefully find a few mad keen tennis fans or trainers that have written up some good content.
A note on PageRank: Try and pick the articles that have a high PageRank, at least a 4 or more is best. The first page or two of results on Google should bring in those types of sites. If you don’t know what PageRank is read about it. When a page has a high PageRank and shows up in the first few results in Google you can assume the content is of a high standard. If in doubt, sit down and read the article, you should be able to judge for yourself if it provides something of quality.
Step 3: Ask for permission to publish the content.
This is the tricky part. Write out an email template to send to the author of the article explaining who you are and what you want to do with the article. Be sure to be completely honest and tell them that your site is commercial although you will not be selling or making any direct money from the article. Make sure you state that the article will be clearly sourced with a link back to the author’s homepage. Here is an example from an email I used:
Dear INSERT AUTHOR NAME,
My name is INSERT YOUR NAME and I am the owner of an INSERT YOUR
BUSINESS located in INSERT YOUR CITY, COUNTRY AND URL. We are
looking for resources to add to a new online library that we are
developing. I came across your INSERT ARTICLE NAME and I believe it
would be perfect for our library. In fact I think it could be one of
the main features, if you are willing to share it. We will of course
list you as the author and link directly back to your website.
The library will be completely free to use and we are presently
putting together a collection of quality articles to help our
visitors with INSERT YOUR SUBJECT AREA (E.G. TENNIS GAME). We do
not intend to make direct profits from the library, it is intended
to add value to our website and hopefully indirectly increase the
sales of our INSERT WHAT YOUR BUSINESS DOES. The business is a
commercial enterprise. If you have any questions regarding my
business or intentions please contact me.
Be certain to sign it off personally and make yourself available for any questions. I also request a response from the author regardless of their decision so you can be certain the email made it through. You have to ensure the author has some potential value from allowing his/her article to be re-published. In this case it can be fame and traffic back to his/her website.
This technique will not always work. Every single author may reject you, some may never respond. Your business may operate in an industry where there just isn’t any good individual authors writing good content that isn’t in some way linked to a commercial enterprise. To get around this you can offer to buy the content if you have the available funds, but I advise against paying much unless the article really is top class and not distributed anywhere else.
I sent out about ten emails and four authors agreed to have their articles published. This provided me with thousands of words of quality free content. Best of all these articles are probably only published in a handful of places, perhaps only on my site and the author’s site. It was definitely worth the time and effort I put in and I recommend you give it a try too, you may be surprised at how generous people can be.