Even in these days of paid search engine advertising and submission, it's still possible to get free publicity on the Web. Offering free content is the key. Content is the name of the game online. It attracts visitors and keeps them coming back. The best content is articles with useful information. The Web is all about information delivered via the written word.
If you can write focused articles on the topic of your Web site, you can become a trusted source of important information that people search for on Google. If you give articles away for free, a large population of webmasters, ezine owners, and portal managers will become your biggest fans.
What "Free" Really Means
Of course, your free articles aren't really free. You "brand" your articles with a strategically placed link to your site. That link usually appears at the end of the article, in a resource box.
A resource box is a brief "about the author" blurb. It always contains a link to a URL on your site. It can be your home page, an ezine sign up page, or some other page on your site. Write your resource box to inspire readers to click that link and investigate your site. Here's an example:
"A.J. Klayburg is a freelance ghostwriter and cofounder of Personal-Finance-101.com, a site where financial writers can get free exposure. If you feel like a dummy when it comes to investments, budgeting, debt, mortgages, credit, and taxes, visit http://www.personal-finance-101.com. No popups or annoying flashing graphics, just great personal finance information from experts."
Giving away free articles in exchange for a link is one of those "win-win" scenarios that actually works for both parties. The webmaster or ezine owner saves time and money, since he or she doesn't have to write original content or hire someone to do it. They don't mind their readers clicking away from their site or ezine. It's considered part of the deal.
You, in turn, get free targeted traffic to your site
The "Free Article" Advantage
By writing free articles you'll actually accomplish three important things.
First, you'll easily capture plenty of free publicity from other webmasters and online publishers. It's much easier to get a free article published than it is to convince someone to sell your product. The articles give you targeted publicity, since for example, someone who publishes an ezine on gardening tips won't print a software review. (Unless it's for gardening software!)
Second, you build credibility. The old adage "show what you know" is especially true online. When someone reads one of your helpful, informative articles, you show that person you know what you're talking about. The issue of trust is eliminated.
Third, you get quality incoming links. Google tends to favor sites that get links from other popular, relevant sites. So when enough webmasters with well-ranked sites publish your articles, you'll eventually get a boost in the search engines.
How can you get your free articles in front of the eyeballs of webmasters and ezine publishers? Submit your articles to free content directories. Here's a sampling of web sites that offer free content to online publishers.
Article Directories and Databases
A wonderful selection of articles. All kinds of niches are represented, including popular topics like health, parenting, fitness, and food. Gets plenty of traffic.
Opportunity Update http://opportunityupdate.com/articles/
This site may not be pretty, but it's fast and full of recent articles on some of the hottest business trends online, including legal tips, real estate, and coaching.
Article City http://www.articlecity.com/
Another fast loading site. Good keyword search feature, with some excellent small niches like autos and trucks.
Free Sticky http://www.freesticky.com/stickyweb/
We discussed this cool site in an earlier Computor Companion. Check it out here: http://www.computorcompanion.com/LPMArticle.asp?ID=18
No search function, but the site is fairly fast and has Press Release and Web Site Debut categories that have little competition.
Oaken Tree http://www.oakentree.com/index.php
Very high quality articles, with a good keyword search, but no list of article topics. When submitting, make sure you include ALL the relevant and specific keywords people might use to search for your article it's the only way they'll be able to find your needle in this great big haystack.
Article Responder http://articleresponder.com/
No search, but 72 specific categories make finding articles fairly easy. Heavily weighed toward web development and online business. Many other niches, like sports, food, and film have no articles as of this writing, so you could easily be a big fish in a small bowl.
Idea Marketers http://www.ideamarketers.com/
Highly recommended. Good search capabilities, including an Author search function. All the broad categories are represented, including Autos, Business, Coaching, Computers, Education, Entertainment, Finance, Home, Lifestyles, Parenting, and even Politics. You can submit not only your articles, but a photo and biography. Webmasters can get a free subscription to certain reprint channels, or purchase unlimited access to the full database of articles. A great place to get your articles in front of the owners of high quality, high traffic sites and established ezine publishers.
Profit Avenue http://www.profitavenue.com/articles.htm
All Internet marketing, all the time. But the site loads fast, and the articles are well-chosen and well-written. If you happen to be struck with one of those "how can I get rich online" moods, you can also grab a bunch of the usual ubiquitous free ebooks all in one visit.
How It Works http://www.how-it-works.net/submit-article.html
An article site devoted to how and why all kinds of stuff from cell phones to contact lenses to insurance is designed and functions. Wonderful resource for students, teachers, geeks, nerds, and the incurably curious. You'll have to submit your article idea for approval they want to avoid duplication and you should research your topic thoroughly.
This list is just a beginning. Look for specialty article sites that relate to your subject area. New article sites spring up all the time, especially in niche areas. Go to Google and play with searches that include "article +directory +your chosen topic."
To protect your copyright, always include language similar to this at the beginning and end of your free articles:
"If your web site deals with financial matters, or if you publish an ezine about money, business, or personal finance, you may reprint this article. You must not change the article in any way, and you must include the full resource box plus a working link back to http://personal-finance-101.com."
Network with your articles. Submitting your articles to directories can be the perfect way to start networking with others in your chosen niche. If a webmaster publishes just one of your free articles, she's likely to want more.
So contact that webmaster and introduce yourself. Offer more articles. It might just be the beginning of a fruitful online business relationship. Old-fashioned networking still works online, and articles are great way to get that process going.