Free Articles are Tempting, But Deadly (To Your Site)

Websites with blogs rank higher in search engines, but it’s hard to write every day. Don’t be tempted by free articles. Be strong and find high quality writers who provide well-researched, helpful content for your business.

It’s tempting to visit a site that offers free articles in exchange for links. But don’t do it.

They may be deadly to your page rankings.

Free Articles Can Kill Your SEO

Article mills can literally kill your search engine optimization efforts. Why? Because they are duplicate content.

It makes sense. If you find an informative article with great references, and since it’s free, of course you want to publish it. But so does everyone else. And that’s where you run into trouble. By their very nature, these freebies are published on websites over the world, and that automatically sends up a red flag to Google. You have duplicate content!

Google’s new algorithm seeks out duplicate content, and it can literally pull down your ranking. On the other hand, sites with original material are rewarded with a higher ranking. The moral of this story: always have unique content.

But I Can’t Blog Every Day

Not every business can blog every day. It’s a lot of work, and frankly your schedule is jam packed. But when you’re out on business calls, find writers that have a passion for writing. They also need excellent research skills and a good grasp of the new SEO rules.

If that doesn’t describe you, then that’s okay. Blog when you can, and offer your advice, opinion, or rant to your audience. But delegate the task every once in a while: meeting with clients shouldn’t prevent your company from publishing fresh new content. There are other alternatives.

Solution 1: Guest Bloggers

Short on time? Invite a guest blogger to fill the void on your site. Guest bloggers usually write an original piece specifically tailored to your website. In return, they ask for links back to their site. Tread carefully, and do not accept all guest bloggers. Ask for writing samples to see if their style fits into your publication. In addition, make it clear that they cannot publish the exact same content anywhere else for the lifetime of your website. On my other site, they keep the copyright, but they grant me exclusive use of the wording in the article.

Reward your guest bloggers with an authorship tag, also known as rel=author, and one link back to their site. You can also let them include any links to references, which boost your credibility. Always test every link first, and never link to a site that is full of advertisements. It will bring your ranking down.

Set Guest Blogging Guidelines, and do not waiver from them. Screen your assistants carefully, and Google them as a quick background check. You don’t want to be surprised by any negative issues that may reflect on your company.

Solution 2: Hire a Professional Blogger

Surprisingly, a lot of sites do hire ghostwriters to help them produce material. It’s actually not a bad idea, especially if you consider that the entire newspaper publishing industry was built upon having paid writers.

The trick is to hire a professional writer, and not just a person who claims to be a writer. The next section will explain this in more detail.

Many writers offer professional writing services that you can use on your website. Their terms may vary depending upon the writer. For example, I write for clients who allow me to write under my own name, which benefits them because my readers might visit their site. However, I also provide ghostwriting services if the customer wishes to pay more to buy all publishing rights. Your freelancer may offer similar choices.

When hiring a writer, ask for samples of their writing services, links to websites for which they have written, and other information that may be useful. Once you have seen their work, you will know if it is an appropriate match. Just make sure you give them a heads-up about the website voice that you need. A technical document requires a completely different voice than a blog.

Solution 3: Hire an Inexpensive Writer

There are services that provide writing at an inexpensive rate, but be careful with this approach. There’s an old joke that says, “What do you call a doctor who graduated at the bottom of his class?” The answer is “Doctor.” Even those who barely passed can still practice medicine.

My point is that you shouldn’t hire a writer unless you have seen samples of their work. Going through a third party site can be tricky, even if you check their references. As an example, I recently hired a writer for another website. He wrote 10 articles based on a list of specific requirements. When I received the documents, I noticed a few problems:

  1. The articles used very poor grammar. A professional cannot get away with dangling participles, poor sentence structure, etc. Even if you are not an English teacher, these were glaring issues.
  2. The person focused on the word count, not the purpose of the article. My high school English teacher had the best writing advice: “A good paper doesn’t need a certain number of words. When it’s done, it’s done.”  In this case, the results were a repetitive and boring article. I had to delete every other sentence just to make it less distracting.
  3. I suspect the author used an article spinner. If you haven’t heard of an article spinner, you will find this incredibly interesting. This program allows someone to upload an article, and it “rewrites” it. Usually, article spinners are used to rewrite materials that were stolen from the internet. The program spins the article using a variety of methods, such as switching sentence order, replacing words with synonyms, etc. The end result is a hot mess, and it is still plagiarism.

In this case, the freelancer had softened the article enough to make sense, but I could still see that something was amiss. How could I know this? As a professional writer, I am a huge fan of research, and I decided that the articles needed more depth. When I began to rewrite the articles, I Googled the subject, and I came up with some great information to add to the piece.

I also stumbled upon a nifty little article that was eerily similar to my freelancer’s piece. It covered the same topics; it had the same facts included in the piece. In fact, when I delved a little deeper, I discovered that each paragraph had exactly the same number of sentences, and it even had the same number of paragraphs. Even the bullet points contained the same information in a different order.

The end result is that I have nine articles sitting on my laptop waiting to be rewritten. I have only completed the first one, and I am procrastinating on the others.

How Do You Find Articles For Your Blog?

In conclusion, I recommend finding a reputable blogger and asking them to work with you on an ongoing basis. You might decide to find a guest blogger, but not all of these writers have your best interest in mind. (Some of them do!) Just be careful.

Hiring a writer is an excellent way to find the perfect match for your blog. You can provide specifications, but please make your requests before the writer begins the project! In addition, you can usually ask the writer to make one set of corrections.

The Best Blogging

The best way to blog is to make sure that you do most of the writing yourself, even if you hire a writer and then just rewrite the article in your own voice. Try not to let too many guest bloggers on your site. You want your audience to hear your voice and know who you are.

You are the star of your website and your voice should shine through.

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If you need help writing articles for your website, call me at 919-662-4302 or email me today!