The heart of any website is the content it contains. It’s what draws visitors, keeps them coming back and influences how the search engines (particularly Google) value your site.

A site that’s all bells and whistles with little or no real content will always be outperformed by a more plainly designed site that has content.

In other words, a site that has something to offer human visitors is what you need to strive for.

Many newbies to website building make the fundamental mistake of attempting to tailor their sites for the search engines, forgetting about the people who’ll (hopefully) be visiting them. The flaw is in thinking that because you get better rankings in the search engines you’ll get a lot more (human) visitors. Initially, that might be true, but sites that don’t have anything to offer visitors will soon start dropping in the rankings. So you’ll see that initial quick rise in page rankings, a short-lived peak and then a gradual (or sometime sudden) descent through the rankings.

The trick is to design your sites for people, not search engines. People bring activity and backlinks. Search engines notice that and reward sites accordingly by increasing their rankings.

But this brings up the question of where to get content for your sites, especially if you’re building sites about a topic you personally know little about. So here are some suggestions on ways of getting content for your sites (most, unfortunately, are not free):

1. Write Your Own Content

This is laborious and time consuming but it’s the best way of creating absolutely unique content. Your particular writing style will have something of your personality in it. Successful sites don’t have to have 100s or 1,000s of pages. Sites with as little as 10 pages can be very successful. And writing 10 articles for a site should be within most people’s abilities. Articles don’t have to be giant missives. 450 -700 words would be a typical length for an article.

Writing your own articles means you can also include whatever keywords you want in the article. Mixing keywords and words related to keywords is a good technique to use. The old days of repeating one keyword several times throughout an article are pretty much gone. Those articles don’t read well and it’s easy for a human reader to see they’ve been keyword stuffed. Repeat the main keyword for your article once or maybe twice in the article, but use related terms elsewhere in the article. For example, if you were writing an article about black bears, related words would be “mammal”, “cub”, “hunting”, “North America”, “carnivore”, “brown bear”, etc. You’d weave those into the article text. The search engines are much smarter than they used to be and assign higher relevance to such an article rather than one where the keyword “black bear” is stuffed into every second sentence.

But what if you don’t have the time, inclination or knowledge to write articles for your site’s niche?

2. Use Articles From The Free Article Directories

There are hundreds of free article directories out there, from the well-known EzineArticles.com and GoArticles.com [no longer in business] to obscure directories on very focused niches. Run a search in your favourite search to find them (e.g. “fishing article directory” – include the quotes). Most of these article directories will allow you to syndicate their content (that’s what they’re there for) so you can cherry-pick the articles you want to use on your own sites.

One caveat though – you are required to keep all links in the articles intact and include the author’s bio, again with all links intact. That’s a condition of use of the articles.

A little time spent doing research for suitable articles is all you need. While you must leave the article author’s links intact, there’s nothing to stop you from adding your own affiliate links into the articles.

The big problem with using free articles is that many other people are using them on their own sites as well, so you have the issue of duplicate content arising. My suggestion, if you don’t want to go the paid route, is to write a few articles yourself and have a mix of your articles and free articles on your site. If you don’t know the subject well, then find a few articles about a particular keyword and mix bits from each, rewriting any content you use, to create your own article. Don’t just copy and paste sentences or paragraphs.

If your time is at a premium or writing articles just isn’t for you, then there’s no option but to use Private Label Rights (PLR) articles, and that’s where you have to put your hand in your pocket and start paying fees.

3. Using PLR Content

There are quite a number of PLR article sites around. All the better ones are membership-based so you’ll end up paying a monthly fee for them. From time to time, you’ll come across offers for PLR articles for a one-time (usually low) payment. These are best avoided. They’ll have already been sold to a huge number of people so you’ll have the content duplication problem again, same as you can get by using free articles.

Various PLR sites provide different packages so you need to pick one that suits your way of working. However, if you want a set of articles on a particular topic, you won’t get one unless it happens to be in the collection of articles you receive from the site that month; in other words, you can’t ask them to write a set of articles just for you – you have to take what you’re given.

Something to be aware of is the quality of writing from a PLR site. Some sites use cheap labour – non-native English speakers whose articles just don’t read well, or article that look like they were written by 4th-graders – people who write like children or who are semi-literate. You want to use decent quality articles on your sites, ones that show you have some expertise or knowledge in the topic, and not ones that look like a badly written school essay.

That said, here are two sites I’ve been a member of for the last couple of years, whose content I can recommend:

Article Undergound provides 400+ articles per month plus a range of training materials and a blog network where you can make announcements about your sites and get backlinks (very useful for site promotion). Articles are not in themed packs but are a random collection of hot topics of the month. The $97 per month membership fee is pretty steep (only committed people will join), but there is a special offer available (you won’t find this link on their main sales page) to get a year’s membership for $399 (equates to $33.25 per month), so it offers a 66% savings on regular monthly payments. You also get 1200 articles up front.

InfoGoRound provide 250 articles per month in themed packs (usually 50 articles per theme). they also give you PLR products you can resell and have a searchable database of past articles that you can also use on your sites. Membership is $25 per month.

I find that the two services compliment each other.

For uniqueness, it’s always worth a bit of time and effort to read and rewrite the articles you get. It doesn’t take much time. If you use an article spinner like the one provided with Article Marketing Automation (see Getting Traffic To Your Sites – Paid Options), you can generate variations of an article to submit to article directories and blogs to get backlinks to your site.

Another PLR site to check out is The Content Club.

While Unique Article Wizard and similar services provide an article spinner as part of their membership services, what if you only want a stand-alone bit of software that runs on your PC and you only pay for once? I’m not aware of such a product. All these types of service are now subscription-based (most renew annually rather than monthly) to cover the developers’ ongoing costs as the technology is constantly improving.

4. Commissioning Articles

This is another way of ensuring you only use unique content, but it is the one you pay most for. You can outsource to the likes of eLance or RentACoder and look for writers to commission to write articles for you. A typical price per article, for a good writer, will be $10-$15+ (possibly up to $50 for a top-quality writer). So costs can mount quickly. It’s also important to vet the writer you’re going to use so you can be sure the quality of writing they produce will meet your standards, so ask for sample articles to review beforehand. Stay away from anyone who won’t provide samples of their work. A good writer can be a goldmine; they’ll also be in high demand and turnaround times may be slow as a result.

Another option is to go to iNeedArticles. You can commission articles from them for $6 each. There’s no minimum order required. They use American-only writers (so native-English speakers) and have a large writing staff so turnaround is quick. Any articles you commission are exclusively yours. Prices vary depending on the number of words you want, the quality of writers, their expertise etc. There’s a comprehensive review of iNeedArticles here.

An alternative is Need An Article. It has a basic membership fee of $9.95 per month. Members pay $5.52 for a 550-word article but you need to provide the writers with the research you’ve done (i.e. links to sites and other things related to the topic of the article) – they won’t do that for you.

Conclusion

Given that getting unique content for your sites is going to cost time and/or money, think about what your budget is. You can start sites out small, with 5-10 pages and grow them later. In fact, a good strategy would be to start small, start promoting a site and see what the reaction from visitors is in terms of ad clicks and sales through other affiliate streams. If it does well, you can use revenue earned by the site to commission more articles to expand the site with.

Remember that what’s on a site is only half the equation. You still have to make people aware that the site exists and relying on natural search traffic from the search engines isn’t going to be good enough. Read the Getting Traffic To Your Sites posts elsewhere on this blog for tips on how to promote your sites.



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