Throw Money At It 2: Outsourcing Content
How and where can you get the best content for your websites? Content that is at the same time high quality, well researched and relevant, but also doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? These were the questions I was seeking to answer since posting the first part of the Throw Money At It project.
As a quick recap, in this project I document my attempts of building profitable websites, using outsourcing and services wherever possible.
Let’s take a quick look at three content sources I tested.
The Content Authority & Text Broker
The Content Authority and Text Broker are both pretty similar services, where you can order single articles or many articles in bulk. In both cases, they take care of assigning your writing jobs to writers and they do some quality testing on their end. With both services, articles come in four quality levels that you can choose from:
- Two Stars – $1.20 per 100 words
- Three Stars – $1.60 per 100 words
- Four Stars – $2.20 per 100 words
- Five Stars – $6.70 per 100 words
- Basic – $1.00 per 100 words
- Great – $1.50 per 100 words
- Excellent – $2.00 per 100 words
- Expert Author – $5.00 per 100 words
The prices are calculated on a per-word basis, but I chose to list the prices for 100 words each, because that’s easier to interpret than something like $0.015/word. Note that Text Broker is much older than The Content Authority and the latter almost certainly deliberately set their prices slightly lower than those Text Broker offer.
Quality level 1 articles are meant for link-fodder, meaning that they will likely be low quality, they aren’t guaranteed to be free of grammatical errors and they won’t be well researched. Level 2 articles are better in every aspect, but not something I’d put on a website I want to get ranked. Although I do have a few websites that are getting good rankings with low-quality content, I don’t consider this type of content to be very future-proof. Levels 3 and four are good enough articles to be featured on your main site.
I ordered several “Excellent” and one “Expert Author” article from the Content Authority. Both types of articles had quite a long turnaround time and took almost a week to be completed. However, the articles are all very good. I ordered these articles for a niche site on a topic that I am not familiar with and they are far better than anything I could have written.
The “Expert Author” article is also very good, but it didn’t really knock my socks off. If I showed you all of the articles I ordered, I bet you’d find it difficult to pick out the “Expert Author” one among the “Excellent”-level articles. The mistake I made was that the article was on a relatively broad topic. I think the way to go with the highest quality level articles is to order them on an ultra-specific topic and add very clear instructions about what you want the article to look like.
Go to any online marketing forum and you’ll be sure to find members offering content writing services. Often at incredibly low rates, as well. Of course, some of them will be good and others won’t. You can always read some of their posts to see what their command of the English language is like, to make an initial selection.
I contacted several writers and ordered one article each, to test them out. I also asked them about their experience in writing for my niche and about their own areas of expertise. Ideally, you can find someone who’s hobby or area of interest matches one of your niche site’s topics. If they also turn out to be a good writer, you’ve struck gold. I did end up with two writers from forums that are now providing me with outstanding content at very reasonable prices.
Getting SEO-Optimal Content
Some writers and content services let you specify minimum and maximum keyword densities for your articles. I generally don’t worry about keyword density or anything else where you have to twist and bend your content to fit your keyword. Here are the steps I take to make sure I get what I consider to be optimized content:
- 800+ Words for Target Pages
A target page is a page that I intend to run a link-building campaign for until it ranks in the top spot for a specific keyword. For such articles, I order articles of 800 to 1500 words in length and I always order articles of a high quality level.
- Adding Images
I add at leas one image to each target page and add the keyword into the alt-text for the image. This isn’t just an exercise in cramming in an alt-text, though. Images make content more attention-grabbing and more engaging and they can be an important conversion-factor. Especially for product-review type sites, where your commissions depend on visitors actually getting engaged with your content and making a buying decision, images play a crucial part.
- “Real Post” Formatting
To some of my article orders, I added a note saying that I encourage the writers to use sub-headings, bullet-points and numbered lists in the content. The result was that I got generally more “real” looking articles, as good web content is often broken down into sub-sections and comes with lists and similar formats.
- Posts of Varying Lengths
I always make sure that I order articles of varying lengths. For target pages, as stated above, between 800 and 1500 words, for secondary content between 500 and 800 words. While I don’t know if this is something Google pays attention to, it seems to me that a site featuring articles that are all almost exactly the same length could easily be classified as spammy.
Cheap Video Content
For a new site, I aim to find at least 5 target keywords, meaning five keywords that I ultimately want to rank for and make money from. In addition, I’ll find at least a dozen additional, related keywords or topics to create additional content around.
An easy and cheap way to create secondary content for a site is the following:
- Go to YouTube and search for some keywords in your niche.
- Find informative videos (not too long) that don’t have very strong branding and little or no calls to action. In other words, you don’t want a video that very effectively advertises a website other than yours.
- Embed the videos in a post or page on your site.
- Order a video transcription from SubPly (costs $0.99 per video minute).
- Add the transcript below the video.
Presto! You’ve got yourself some relevant, interesting, media-rich content!
Note that this is an experimental method. My hope is that Google sees the transcripts as a real value-addition to the videos (which they are, in my opinion) and potentially assigns my post with the video a higher relevancy for the main keyword than the original video on YouTube. I don’t know if this will actually happen, though.
In conclusion, I can recommend both Content Authority and Text Broker, provided that you use articles of quality level 3 and above. What I recommend even more is that you spend some time finding a writer who’s personal style and expertise are a good match for what you are looking for. In general, I prefer quality over quantity and I’d much rather invest $100 into 5 long, high-quality articles than into 20 junk-articles.
As for my project: for all sites involved, I will keep new content rolling in, from the sources mentioned above. The next step is getting backlinks and getting the sites ranked. I’ve made a few orders already, but it’s still too soon to report on any results. Once I’ve tested a bunch of services and gotten some link-reports and ranking movements back, I’ll let you know.