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Writing articles and giving them to others can drive traffic to your website.

It sounds counterintuitive, but it works: you can pre-sell customers and drive them to your website. The idea behind it is that other sites have what you want: a proven pool of customers who are looking for products and information that you have. In other words, they're pre-sold on your products. All you have to do is show them the right item and you've got them.

How do you reach these pre-sold customers? By proving that you know your stuff, and then giving them an easy way to reach your products, like a direct link to your website.

The only way you can demonstrate to someone that you know your stuff is through communication; the primary way to communicate online is through writing. It stands to reason, therefore, that if people read what you have written and are impressed, they're going to expect that you know what you're talking about.

So you try to reach as many people with your words as you can. It's that simple, and that complicated.

The Concept: Giving Away Your Words

The one thing that everyone is hungry for online is great quality content, not just words, but words that tell people something they didn't know before: information on a new product, a new use for an old one, consumer information, etc. Think about it, if someone asked you to put a good article on your website

For example, suppose you sell paintball guns and related products. There is a surprisingly large online community for these items, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, not many people who have really good content on the sports surrounding paintball. The sites that do have great information are very popular indeed with aficionados.

These sites usually make money in one of two ways: either they sell items through affiliate links, or they sell advertising on their websites. For instance, if you look at paintball.about.com, you'll find good, constantly-updated information about paintballs, and lots of advertising. About makes money on their advertising and by selling products from sites they're linked to.

But About, and sites like them, are always in need of fresh information and articles, for a few reasons. The older articles have been read; the most valuable customer online is a repeat customer, but if you never update your site information, customers don't come back. Also, the Google search engine spiders have been paying attention lately to sites with fresh content. If you consistently have fresh content on your site, your site will move up in the Google rankings. And that's something everyone wants.

If you can supply these sites with this fresh content, they will keep coming back to you. And as long as your name is on the article as the author, you'll get fresh customers from their site.

Becoming A Guru

Before you start writing articles, you need to know what you're talking about. You become a guru.

First, haunt the online chat rooms, forums, and message boards where people go to talk about your product. Perhaps you think you know everything there is to know about paintball, you're almost certainly wrong. Forums will tell you what your customers are looking for, what information they treasure. And these are the bits of information you want to include when you start writing articles.

Second, make sure you really know what you're talking about. A paintball fan will know pretty quickly whether you're faking it or not, and they won't go to a fake's website.

Once you're secure that you can act as a guru, you're ready to start writing great articles.

How to Write Giveaway Articles

First, not everyone can write. This is a simple fact, so if you're one of them, hold on; there are other alternatives.

If you can write well, and you know your information, you're more than halfway there. Now you just need to understand how to write for an online audience and how to optimize your article.

First, write short. Keep your paragraphs short, make bullets and numbered points in your text whenever you have a list of information, and write in a conversational manner instead of an academic one.

Always do your best to use good grammar, and spellcheck everything.

If you have an article longer than 400 words (that's about one page in MS Word) break it up. You can serialize it, or you can insert headings in the best places for the article to break across web pages.

Finally, choose a set of keywords. These are the words that you think people interested in this article are most likely to search for. For instance, paintball articles should always use "paintball" and "paint ball" as keywords. If you're writing about a specific paintball gun, use the gun's brand name and manufacturer's number as a second keyword.

Sprinkle the keywords throughout your article. Be certain to use them in headers as often as you can: "Paintball for Kids: The Mark X-23". If you can, try to have a 5% frequency of your keyword in your article, that's one keyword every twenty words. Less is okay, particularly if the article sounds better overall, but high keyword count will get your article to rank higher on search engines.

If you write your articles in this way, you'll make your reader happy, convince them that you're a guru, and ensure that your articles do enough good at the website they're donated to that you will continue placing articles there.

What If You Can't Write?

That's okay. You can hire a web content ghostwriter. There's a whole new breed of writers online who can research your information fast, and who can write articles for you based on the information you supply. In general, better writers charge more, but no web content writer should charge you enormous fees.

When you hire your writer, make it clear up front that you're purchasing all rights. This gives you the right to put your name on the article as the writer, establishing your credentials as a guru.

But you should always read through the articles written for you. Make sure the information included in them is accurate and easy to understand. Remember, the article you're placing is your face to your customers.

Where to Place Your Articles, And What Your Terms Should Be

Here's the kicker: when you have your wonderful, informative, keyword-rich article ready, you ask the owner of the website you're placing it at to run the article, at no charge to him, but to please include a link to your website in exchange.

That's it.

With your name and website link attached to your article, a reader whose interest is piqued will click to your site. There he or she will have the opportunity to buy your product; and if you're running advertisements on your website, they'll also rack up a hit for your billing.

The best thing is that you're pre-selling your customer with your informative article. That does not mean your article should be a sales pitch, by the way; instead, you should use your article to teach your reader why he or she needs a specific product, or a range of product, or should come to your site to learn more. This means that you're only telling them about the fantastic stats of the Mark X-23 paintball, and why it's such a great gun for kids. Leave it up to them to decide to go to your site.

You can place articles at dozens of great places. Check first with other sites that deal with items peripheral to your product. For instance, a paintball organization's website might be willing to run your paintball article. There are also dozens of generic websites that run articles on a wide variety of topics, including:

* http://www.About.com (submit articles to the guide in the subject area most closely related to your business)
* http://www.Ask.com
* http://www.goarticles.com
* http://www.ezinearticles.com
* http://www.ideamarketers.com

Fringe Benefits: Improving Your Search Engine Rankings

There's one more advantage to placing articles with other websites. You can improve your own site's search engine ranking with each link you build.

If you have your website keyword optimized, you should insist on having a "resource box" at the end of your article. This is a section enclosed in a border that tells the reader a little about you as well as giving them a way to get to your website. "Mark Borders runs FabuWare, home of paintball accessories for the last 20 years."

Notice that your link is not "FabuWare." Instead, it is "paintball accessories." There is an important reason for this.

With plenty of links to your site from other sites, your search engine rankings will go up. This means that along with your free link and pre-selling through the article, you also get a free boost to your website.

If the words that link to your website also match your keyword, your ranking will be boosted much higher than with other links to your website that don't use the keyword. And the only way to do this is to write the resource information yourself and ensure it's used exactly as you wrote it.

To do this, design a reference box with text exactly the way you want it to appear, complete with your link set up, and submit the reference box along with your article.

Recap: What To Remember

Writing articles and giving them away can:

* Make you into a guru
* Allow you to presell your products
* Drive fresh traffic to your site
* Improve your search engine rankings

A single article, properly written, can be worth much more on someone else's site than it would be on your own. Choose carefully, and write it well.



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