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Where's Your Content?
by: Richard Keir
Copyright 2005 Richard Keir

Once again, it's being made clear that the old isn't old at all. Google's latest update seems to make it clearer than ever that actual website content continues to be a vital element in creating a successful website. Of course, there's lots more to it, but what we do know is that all search engines like content, especially when it's new, different and unique. Static sites where new content is not being added on a regular basis, become stale and their rankings often drop.

Solutions that involve large amounts of content from RSS feeds or search engine results are now looking like a good method to get you dropped from Google. Scraping is illegal. While imitation may be a form of flattery, stealing the full content from a site or blog is just criminal. If this seems even slightly tempting, forget it. You won't last long and the consequences aren't worth it.

So where is your content? The absolute best source of content remains articles you write yourself. Why? First, they're unique. Second, you can submit them to article directories for links and wider distribution. Third, branding. The people who write and publish good quality information become known.

The downside? It all takes time and you have to do your research. Few people can write quality niche content without doing at least some research. However, if your plan involves a long-term business in a niche, it's well worth it. While all the information you use in your articles might be easily found with a little searching, the reality is that very few people will do that simple search. By doing it for them and creating articles and content based on your research, you become an expert. Your time investment can pay off in a major way as you become an acknowledged expert in your niche. Your site becomes an authority site. It doesn't get a whole lot better than that.

No magic, no instant solution. We keep buying books and tools that promise quick easy solutions. But a little thought should tell you that if they existed, the owner certainly wouldn't be selling (or at least not until they stopped working well). Everything requires learning, testing, modifying and just plain hard work to get the best results. No matter how you go about it, you need to invest time, and writing articles is a great investment for long-term success.

If it seems impossible, start with the simplest kind of article. Gather tips, hints or tricks about a niche subject. Write each one as a separate paragraph. Write a short introduction - a paragraph explaining the subject and the type of hints or tips in the article. That's your first paragraph. Next come the tip paragraphs. If you need to, add linking or bridging sentences like: "Here's another way to improve your whatever-it-is." This kind of article is meant to be simple, clear and easy to understand. Nothing fancy required, just plain straightforward text. Use a spelling checker, use a grammar checker. Hey, if you need to, use a speech to text processor, just get that first one done and submit it. Believe me, it gets a lot easier after the first time.

It's a rare marketer who can write enough articles to provide the full content of a new site. Over time, however, more and more of the site's content could come from your own unique articles. Meanwhile where else can you look for high quality content?

PD (Public Domain) materials offer great possibilities. Sure, you have to make certain that the content really is in the public domain and it may involve scanning, editing and proofing, breaking the materials down to suitable size and then making the appropriate pages and articles. Still, depending on your niche, you could find unique PD content that has never appeared in the SEs and which will be highly attractive to your site visitors. Aside from using it to create pages, you can create articles, viral PDFs or eBooks, products to sell, autoresponder series, newsletter content -- you are really only limited by your imagination.

Membership sites offering private label products are also a valuable source of content. With this sort of content, you'll probably want to do some rewriting and rearranging, adding some new content of your own and so on. Naturally, the more you modify the content, the more unique it will be. Since the rights to different products may vary, make sure you understand what you can and can't do with any particular item before you begin working on it.

Other sites offer packages of ghost-written private label articles. Some you might use as articles pages, others you might rewrite and submit as well as put them on your site. Again, check your rights to be clear on what is permitted (or required).

Another alternative is to hire ghost writers to produce content specifically for you. A great deal of the information on a lot of sites and in a lot of info-products has been ghost-written. Content produced exclusively for you should definitely be unique. This may be more costly than other alternatives, but you are paying for the time saved, the uniqueness and for full rights to the content produced.

Third-party articles are another source for added content. By including your own introductions before and/or comments after each article, you can differentiate your site from any other publishing the same article.

Use a mix of the ideas in this article, and you're on your way to creating a valuable and sticky site that visitors will find useful and want to return to. And your site will be attractive to the search engines. Keep in mind that this is on-going process. Don't stop. Adding new and unique content regularly is one of the very best methods of guaranteeing a successful and long-lived web site.

About the author:
Richard writes, teaches, trains and consults on business and professional presentations and eCommerce related matters. Visit the blog at more information on eCommerce sites and eCommerce site building - and more eCommerce articles.

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