Why You Should Find Something Of VALUE To Give Away For FREE Online
If you’re from a web agency in Brisbane, you’re probably aware of how competitive the number one Google ranking for “Web Design Brisbane” is. The spot has long been dominated by John Hacking, with other, much larger companies stuggling to stay in the top 5 for longer than a few months.
Recently, Bluewire Media has claimed the #1 spot from John Hacking, who has dropped from #1 to page 2 (any ideas why?). If you looked at the home page of the Bluewire Media website however, you might be confused as to how we’ve made it to the number one spot. There’s no heading saying “Web Design Brisbane”, the words “Web Design” and “Brisbane” appear only once each in the browser title tag, and they’re not together or near the start. In fact, the phrase “Web Design Brisbane” or “Brisbane Web Design” doesn’t even appear anywhere on the page.
Compare this with the companies who share spots 2-10, most of whom start their titles with “Web Design Brisbane”, and you’ll be left to wonder why Bluewire Media is even on the first page.
Well, if you know anything about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), you’ll know that inbound links (links from someone else’s site back to your site) play a huge factor in getting your site to rank higher in search results. A quick scan of the number of links pointing to each of the top 10 websites reveals that Bluewire Media has roughly 24,000 inbound links, while the rest of the top 10 have between 1,000 and 10,000 inbound links (with a couple of exceptions).
Fair enough, you might say, until you hear that Bluewire Media does not actually offer SEO services directly (apart from ensuring the websites we build are search engine friendly, we refer our clients to our SEO partners, Reload Media, for all their other SEO needs). How then, have we managed to get twice or three times the number of links that our competitors have, most of whom offer SEO and linkbuilding services?
Well, at Bluewire Media, we’re big believers that the best way to market your business online is to give something of value away for free. Our free Web Strategy Planning Template, co-created with international keynote speaker and best-selling author David Meerman Scott has been downloaded and used by thousands of businesses worldwide to help them define their web strategy.
By giving this template away for free, we’ve managed to not only get our logo and contact details into the offices of hundreds of companies Australia wide, but also to get hundreds (and eventually thousands) of links from webmasters and bloggers who have found it useful and wanted to share it with their audiences, and in doing so have helped us achieve our number one ranking.
We try to recommend to most of our clients that they write an e-book or similar and give it away for free, but many of them, being business-people, just can’t get their head around the concept; and it’s often hard to think of all the right arguments to convince them on the spot. Here, I’ve outlined here what happens when you give away for free something other people thing is pretty valuable.
- You publish something (let’s call it a widget) that people would pay for (because it’s that good), but instead you give it away for free. It could be a free e-book, an online tool or app, a printable template or checklist (like ours), or even just a great blog post!
- People read or use your widget and find it valuable. It’s so good that they can’t resist telling their friends and followers about it using social media (especially if you make it easily shareable). This spreads your brand name and increases your reputation.
- If your free widget is good enough, eventually it will create enough of a social media storm that people will start blogging about it (hello backlinks!).
- People who read those blog posts will then know about you and your free widget, and if they find it valuable enough, they’ll tell their own friends and followers.
- This cycle goes on and on while your brand name is being spread further and further and your reputation is skyrocketing.
- You now have a first-class reputation, and your customers come to you ready to buy your products/services because they’ve read about you, seen your work and trust your expertise.
But why does it have to be free?
Making your widget free means that when someone comes across it, they don’t have to deliberate over whether they can afford it or whether it will be worth the money, they don’t have to get up and walk across the room to get their credit card details (don’t under-estimate the laziness of the general population), and they have no reason to trust that your widget will do what you claim it will. If it’s free, however, there is absolutely no reason why someone wouldn’t use/read/download it right then and there and be blown away by how valuable it is. Basically, by making it free, you’re allowing it to spread faster and further.
Want to learn more?
[Edit: Lesley has linked to an excellent video in the comments. If you’re interested to know more, please have a look]
David Meerman Scott is a thought leader in this field, and has some great books that really help clarify exactly why you should give something away for free. I recommend buying and reading his book ‘World Wide Rave’ (we’ve got some copies in the office if you’d like to borrow one) and downloading some of his free e-books (yes that’s right, he practices what he preaches).
Are you convinced?
A lot of people will remain un-convinced, especially if they think they’re in an industry that this doesn’t apply to. Really though, if you have a product or service and you have a website, there’s a way that it can work for you: you just need to be creative.
If you’re having a hard time thinking of a way to do this in your industry, leave a comment explaining your situation and I’ll think of one for you!