Beware of free content offers

Posted on March 24, 2010

 

Most people now understand that content is important on the web. Websites that feature unique, regularly updated and interesting content tend to perform better in the SERPs (search engine results pages), often without even having had any SEO at all. When content is married with an effective SEO strategy, a website can reap huge rewards from the search engines.

However, content either takes time to perfect, or costs money. You can’t simply go to an article directory website and copy their free articles onto your own website, because that would be classed as ‘duplicate content’ – and wouldn’t aid your site in the search engines at all. Worse yet, it would have a negative effect on your rankings as your site gets penalised for the duplicate content.

But – what if a website comes to you offering to provide you with content, free of charge? The old adage in business has always been: “if something looks too good to be true, it probably is” – and this couldn’t be more accurate. Even at StuckOn we occasionally receive emails from companies offering SEO services and content services, such as this one we received a few weeks ago. This email offered to provide one of our websites with content, sourced from a bank of content that could be used by any other website.

Have a read:

I just want you to know that your site meets our criteria and we would like to sponsor it. The membership is free but only the top-notch sites are allowed.

What’s in it for you:

– Placement in an exclusive “Best of Content-Oriented Web sites” directory.
– Free content for your site, written around your topics by our in-house writers.
– Promotion of your site across our networks of 2,000+ of blogs.
– Marketing tools developed exclusively for our members to help you drive more traffic.
– Expert advice on search engine optimization (SEO), content development, monetization, conversions, etc. to make the most of what you’ve got.
– Participation in our community support forums.
– …and more.

Note that none of these benefits are available to non-members, it is an invitation-only community for webmasters. So, if any of the above appeals to you and if you’d like an invitation, please let me know. I will send you more details.

On further investigation on this ‘offer’ (using Google of course) we found that the company had been emailing pretty much every website it could find online, offering its ‘free’ content. The content in question was not unique, and every page of content featured a link to one of their clients!

In short, they wanted to post duplicate content on our website promoting their clients’ services. As link building techniques go, it’s pretty cunning!

You should always be very wary of unsolicited emails offering SEO services and content for your website, more often than not there’s a catch, and in this instance it is one that would see your website penalised by Google.

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