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Searchers love the f word – free

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Thursday August 17, 2006 )

I discovered very early on (well before AdSense and similar hit the scene) that providing the information as I was learning it and recommending or advertising related products and services worked very well together. In fact, it started generating more income than I was making through other pursuits. Providing the amount of resources that I do also opened other doors for me in online business.

It can be a double-edged sword at times, but overall it’s been a successful approach for me to this point.

In my case the free product is information that leads to purchases of related ecommerce and marketing products supplied by 3rd parties, but what about other types of goods and services – how do you apply the “free” model and make it work for you? I offer some tips on this in my article: Using the “f” word (free) & freebie offers in marketing .

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Thanks to AOL’s faux pas a short while back after they posted 2 gigabytes of raw search query data for all and sundry to grab, we’re starting to see more interesting results on the contents of that archive from various people who are studying it.

For a bit of history on the inadvertent dataset release from AOL, some initial findings on click rates and related issues the availability of the archive raised, you can read my first post on the subject here.

Lee Gomes from the Wall Street Journal is working with the dataset and among other interesting tidbits, he reports that from the 17 million plus search queries, the most common keyword was “free”.

“Free” is a dirty word to some marketers or can sometimes send shivers down the spine of online business owners, but it is an expectation from many that just about anything they want can be found on the web and acquired for free.

For example, early on in Taming the Beast.net’s history, my home page was littered with the “free” term – the keyword density level was quite high. The reason for that is I noticed people were regularly searching on terms like “free web development tutorials”, “free marketing resources”; etc. As I increased the density (without overdoing it), my traffic increased.

These days, the density on my home page for this particular word is down around the 2% mark. I dropped the density because people aren’t putting the word “free” in front of these sorts of queries as much now; it’s *expected* that when you run a query such as “marketing articles”; the listings that are returned will have free access to these resources.

I’m often asked *why* I give away so much information. Here’s some of the reasons:

– Because I’m a nice guy ;)
– I’m a trainer by qualification, so it’s in my nature
– I’m silly, sometimes I do give too much away :)
– it helps to establish a level of credibility

OK, so where’s the beef? How do I make my money?

I discovered very early on (well before AdSense and similar hit the scene) that providing the information as I was learning it and recommending or advertising related products and services worked very well together. In fact, it started generating more income than I was making through other pursuits. Providing the amount of resources that I do also opened other doors for me in online business.

It can be a double-edged sword at times, but overall it’s been a successful approach for me to this point.

In my case the free product is information that leads to purchases of related ecommerce and marketing products supplied by 3rd parties, but what about other types of goods and services – how do you apply the “free” model and make it work for you? I offer some tips on this in my article: Using the “f” word (free) & freebie offers in marketing .



 

 
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