There are two things that seem to be true about the internet. The first one is that traffic is important and the second is that SEO is the best source of traffic. If you’re a novice, generate free traffic and performing SEO can both feel like difficult propositions. What if there was a way to generate free traffic and a large number of links, traffic, and conversions by giving away value that costs you little?
Most people would jump on that opportunity but most people don’t know how. In this guide, you’ll learn a timeless strategy to generate free traffic and high-quality links for your website.
How does the free tools strategy work?
Trust is the currency of the internet. The free tools strategy helps you build that trust by solving a small (and in some cases large) problem for your visitors. You do this without asking for payment.
The core of this strategy is making something that’s useful and directly related to your core business. For example, UsefulPDF has an online signature maker that’s related to its electronic signature software. HubSpot has a marketing grader that’s related to its suite of marketing tools.
When thinking of your free tool, take the needs of your customers into consideration but also make sure it’s in line with your core products.
Advantages of using tools instead of content?
Beyond the point that content takes forever to rank well in search engines, there are a few other advantages free tools have.
The tool won’t get stale
When you create topical content, it can go out of vogue quickly because things change. For example, this legalzoom alternatives article will need to be constantly updated because companies may go out of business or prices change.
If you create a free tool that analyzes headlines, you may not need to update it or only update it every few years. The need to update content remains even if it’s considered evergreen.
You can easily channel people to paid products
When you choose your free tool properly, it’ll be directly related to your core products and service. It’ll solve a problem that your core audience has. It won’t be much of a stretch for you to recommend one of your core products to the people using your core tool.
For example, CoSchedule makes a marketing calendar and has a free headline analyzer. Its target audience creates content around the web so even if they’re not looking for a marketing calendar at that moment, they may eventually work with CoSchedule.
In the end, that’s the goal of your free tool. Link building and traffic are nice but the true focus is to generate new customers for your brand.
It’s more difficult to copy them
This is the best part of creating a free tool for your audience. It’s not something that can be copied like a piece of written content. It requires forethought and, in many cases, and developer on the team to do it for you.
Even if your free tool doesn’t require development resources, there are times when a moat is built around it and makes it difficult for other people to compete. For example, Pexels started as a free tool for Crew and only had a few images. Over time, it attracted a community and now there are thousands of free images that can be used.
Disadvantages of free tools
As with all things, there are disadvantages with any strategy you employ. The major drawback of the free tools strategy is that they’re more difficult to create. This will eventually turn into an advantage but it’s what prevents people from starting in the beginning.
If you can get over this initial hump then you should be well on your way to generating a steady stream of traffic and links.
Suggestions for what to use as an engineering project
The following list is by no means comprehensive but it should get your creative juices flowing.
- Resource libraries
- Forum or community
- Comparison tools
- Planner or calendar
- Quiz as a product recommendation engine
- Name generator
- Smaller version of a premium tool
Again, these are just the tip of the iceberg to get your creative juices flowing. IF you think of something that’s not on the list above, don’t hesitate to pursue it to its logical conclusion.
There are countless marketing strategies, best practices, opinions. Maybe those will work for you and maybe they won’t. This guide has walked through what free tools are, how they work, the advantages, and disadvantages. In the end, it’s up to you to decide what kind of side project you’ll create.