Free content articles are provided to publishers in exchange for a bio or comment about the author, and a link back to the authorís website. Both publisher and author generally consider this to be a fair trade. The writer gets published, and the publisher gets something without paying for it.
All is well and good with this relationship except for one thing. Search engines will index everything on your website, but reprinted articles may not carry the same weight as if they were an original publication. Itís hard to get these articles listed in search engines. They can fill out your site, but chances are they wonít bring in many visitors because they are never seen in the search engine results.
Search Engines and Duplicate Filters
Most search engines include what are referred to as ďduplicate content filtersĒ. The purpose of these is to prevent 1000ís of the same article from showing up for the same search. While most freebie articles arenít a huge problem, other articles such as those provided through syndication sources like UPI and AP can be replicated 10ís of thousands of times in a given day.
Free articles manage to get caught up in this mix and often therefore, do not help to bring in traffic. However, changing the authorís article is simply not an option. By agreement, you are required to keep it as written.
Getting Around Search Engine Duplicate Filters
There are three ways around this depending upon which direction you want to go and how your site is laid out. Each of these will directly or indirectly get your articles indexed and help build your traffic:
The Summary Page method Ė I happened to recently stumble along this method quite accidentally, and in fact it happens to be the easiest way. You donít avoid the duplicate content penalty, but you do get around it and it is assured every time.
While leaving the actual article alone and accepting the fact that the duplicate filter will not rank the article itself, you can create a preceding contents page for a group of articles that will not trip the duplicate filters. Therefore, if you had five articles on developing a business plan, a contents page about business plans would list and link to each article and provide a keyword heavy sentence or two about each of the articles. It adds one more click to the readerís task, but the ability to scan for the exact nature of each article can more than make up for the minor inconvenience.
The only disadvantage to this method is only your content index page is ranked, not the articles themselves.
The content splitter method Ė This only works with long articles, but it really does work well. Letís assume that you have a free article that is 4500 characters in length. In anyoneís book this is a good size article and one that well qualifies for the content splitter method.
There is no such thing as ďan average page of contentĒ, but a reasonable page size is about 1500 characters long. For the purposes of comparison, the text on this page is 5524, characters, counting spaces. With that in mind, take the article and split it up into 2-3 pages and link the three together with an into sentence in italics indicating that the content has been split. When this is done, search engines only see part of the text and it does not accurately compare with an indexed full version of the original. Sometimes the first page might catch the duplicate filter, but it is rare that any of the subsequent pages will.
The warning about this is that you must include the credits and links at the bottom of all pages. Thatís not a huge deal, but one that must be kept up with. The advantage of this method is that you get 3 pages for the price of one. That means 3 times more pages in search engines and 3 times the ability to have the article come up on search engines. If someone hits a second or third page, as long as they have a link to page one found on that page, most are fine with it.
The trick to good ranking is that you must use your H1 and H2 tags effectively. All pages should carry the same H1 tag (title of the article), but split the text at a logical breakpoint when going from page to page. Additionally, you should add an H2 tag paragraph title that includes one or more of the keywords.
The editorís note method Ė While keeping the article the same, if a publisher precedes each article with about two paragraphs of his own comment in a different size font and titled ďEditorís NoteĒ, this is often enough to turn the article into an original where search engines are concerned. You can add comment about what the reader will find in the article and summarize it. A minimum of two paragraphs seems to be required.
The warning here is that you should not publish the article until you have provided the editorís note. Otherwise, the article may initially trigger the duplicate filter and the filter will never release it.
The editorís note method also gives you the opportunity to add paragraphs that are particularly heavy with keywords and thus increase your chances of being found. For those that are willing to write a bit, this is an ideal method for increasing your traffic.
Each of these methods have been fully tested and found to be very effective in getting new articles indexed in a way that brings readers in.You are also welcome to reprint this article so long as you provide the main page of our marketing section found at http://www.seniormag.com/marketing/index.htm and make the link live.