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Do Free Articles Work?

Take a look around the Web and you'll find thousands upon thousand of articles, every one of them appearing on any number of websites. These are known as 'free re-print articles'. Free articles are used to promote business, whether the writer's own business, or the business of the website on which they're used.

Whether or not free articles work depends entirely on which angle you're coming at them from.

Within the question of whether or not free articles work are two individual questions. The first is:

Do Free Articles Work For Writers?

By writer, I mean the person whose name appears in the 'by line'. In some cases, the free article will have actually been written by a ghost-writer, although please don't believe that's necessarily a bad thing.

If a person has expert knowledge but no writing skills, he hires somebody else to put his noesis into words rather than publish a badly crafted article. The authority is still there and as a free article will be valuable to others.

So, the question actually being asked is "Do free re-print articles work for the person sharing his or her knowledge?"

The answer, quite simply, is "yes".

Let's say I perform a Google search for 'Giclée Prints' that brings up a free article by a photographic print expert. I enjoy the article-find it riveting, in fact-and by the time I get to the author's resource box at the bottom, I'm certain this guy knows exactly what he's talking about.

Then I notice he sells photographic prints that are produced using the giclée method. The URL of his website is given in his resource box so I pop over and take a look. If I find a print I like, I buy it. After all, it's better to buy from somebody who knows the business well rather than someone whose simply cashing in on the market, isn't it?

For the 'author' of the free article, having it posted on as many sites as possible means lots of free advertising so I'd definitely recommend you keep writing and posting free re-print articles as often as you can. For 'writers', the work, and they work well!

Do Free Articles Work For Web Business Owners?

When it comes to those using free re-print articles as content for websites, there's a fine line that Web business owners looking for quality content need to stay on the right side of.

1. Is The Article Well Written?

Unfortunately, a considerable percentage of free re-print articles aren't written by professional-or even talented-writers. If you value you business, it's important you choose only well-written articles that reflect the standard of professionalism your visitors will expect.

2. Is The Content Valuable To Your Visitors?

All too often I've seen irrelevant articles on websites and have wondered "what's the point?"

My guess is that Web business owners are-by using free articles-hoping to attract anybody looking for anything in the hope that once on their site, they'll buy their product or service. It doesn't work that way, though. Those searching for 'reebok trainers" are hardly likely to want to buy a framed giclée print.

Make sure that the content you post is relevant to what you're promoting and that the free article is actually interesting enough for your visitors to want to read. 300 words explaining the evolution of the 'Giclée printing process' are far more interesting than 1000 words about nothing much at all. Just because it's a free article, there's nothing to say you have to use it. If content is king, then quality is queen!

Having evaluated the free re-print articles you have available and decided which to use, the next questions you need to ask is:

How many free articles will I need?

This is a very important question, but one Web business owners rarely consider.

More than being a matter of how many free articles you should have on your site at any given time, what you should be considering is how often you should re-new your content.

If you post a free re-print article that's fresh-one that hasn't been doing the rounds for more than a couple of weeks-you'll probably get a month or so out of it before it no longer pulls its weight as you'd like it to. Why? Because while the search engines-and Google especially-love content, they will reduce the number of 'points' your content's given if it's duplicated elsewhere-which free articles obviously will be. The more often it's duplicated, the less likelihood of it bringing you onto the first page of the search results.

You have two options open to you. Either:

  • Replace your free article content regularly-at least once a month

  • Buy original content that won't be found elsewhere

    The second option means that you pay a writer to provide your site with articles that are written specifically for your use only. Copyright is transferred to you and even if the article stays on your site for years, it will still be original content and therefore be given higher value amongst the search engines than any amount of free articles will.

    Four or five well-written articles that are highly relevant to your business will bring you more traffic than twenty free re-print articles. Why? Because the keywords will be targetted specifically to your business and the content will relate directly to what you have to offer. Also, a professional writer knows exactly the right density of keywords to maximise search engine potential, and where in the article they should be used. Web writing is a specialised business, after all.

    Conclusion

    For writers, posting free re-print articles work well. There's absolutely no doubt about that.

    For Web business owners, free articles can work well if the webmaster is willing to work at keeping the content updated and fresh.

    All in all, free articles are a good thing, but for Web business owners, while posting free re-print articles can be a good way of building content, nothing can ever beat quality, original content.

    Sharon Jacobsen is a professional freelance writer specialising in Web articles. For a competitive fee she'll happily populate your website with compelling, keyword rich articles on the subject of your choice.

    To contact Sharon, or to find out more about her work, please visit: http://www.sharon-jacobsen.co.uk

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