The True Cost of ‘Free’ Content

Matt Beswick February 22, 2012 1
It can be a real challenge to come up with ideas and create engaging content for your website.  Making sure that you have plenty of unique content on your website that isn’t duplicated anywhere else is very important when it comes to increasing traffic and where your site stands on Google rankings.  The entire lifeblood of your site revolves around the content that you provide on it.  In order to make sure that their sites constantly have new content, a lot of webmasters will sign up with article directories that will provide them with free content, with the only requirement being that you don’t make any changes to the article and that you include the writer’s bio and link to his or her website at the end.

Win-Win Situation

It seems like a win-win situation right?  The original author gets credit and a link, while you get content for your site.  The only problem is you aren’t the only one using this content.  Everyone who is utilising that article directory is going to have access to the same content as you, and will be under the same restrictions for use.  This means that potentially thousands of other websites will be publishing the same article you are and if there is one thing that will hurt your search rankings it is duplicate content.  Not to mention that your site will just look bad and you will appear lazy if you are just recycling articles.  This can hurt your Google ranking, as well as affiliate link conversions.  This “free” article could cost you a lot more than you think.

Why Duplicate Content Is Bad For SEO

Think of duplicate content from a user’s perspective.  When you go to your search engine of choice and look at a list of results for your search, and the top ten listings are ten identical sites with the same content on each one, how likely will you be to visit that site?  Not to mention Google is actively penalising “content mills” and the sites that recycle duplicate content to make the experience better for their users.  If your site is full of duplicate content from across the web, it will never rank very highly in Google’s search results.  They are going to give more authority and search ranking weight to sites that have completely original and unique content.  If the goal is to get your site to the top of the search rankings, then you better make sure that your content is original, or with all the different sites out there you will get lost in the shuffle and end up back on page twenty.

So Why Does This “Free” Duplicate Content Still Get Used?

This is a tough one to answer.  Some webmasters might simply not care, and just think it is a way to make some quick money and just want to fill their site with something, anything as long as it is content.  I think a lot of webmasters simply don’t get just how important having a website with unique content is.  They could just be getting started and think it is the best way to get rolling, despite the negative impacts it will have in the long run.  It’s true writing unique content can be hard, and it might seem like you can’t afford to employ a writer to provide you with unique content, but the question you have to ask is can you afford not to?

If you’re struggling to write unique content and need someone to help you, why not hire an SEO copywriter?  Not only can a true professional write content your readers will love but they will write content the search engines love too!  Now that is win-win!


One Comment »

  1. Jeremy September 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Matt,
    Duplicate content is not only bad for SEO it’s highly irritating for humans (or at least me) too. It is so annoying to find the same stuff multiple times. Worse, is the fact that the content itself it usually poor in the first place. Sometimes it’s poor English and other times it is totally incomprehensible – it’s about the same level as a spammy email. Google needs to remove these from search results altogether to improve the quality of the web.

    Good blog by the way.

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