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Keyword Dilemma

 3:11 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

I need some brainstorming help with a keyword problem. For a client I am optimizing/marketing some keyword phrases that have the word free in them. These are two and three word phrases and the word free has to be included because that is how they are searched for. I cannot in any way remove the word free. The problem is the product is not free. Nothing about it is free as in no cost but I am getting tons of traffic for variations of the word phrase but leading with free as if they are looking for actual free variations of the keyword but not necessarily the product.

Has anyone else dealt with this?



 3:18 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

The only question to answer is whether the traffic is of value to the site. imho


 3:20 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

If the problem is working in the word 'free', can you use phrases like:

'risk free xxx'?
'why free xxxx doesn't pay'

Must be others - caffine level to low to think creatively at the moment.


 3:21 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

NFFC's point is valid - will any of the 'free xxx' searchers convert to sales?


 3:21 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Not really. It doesn't appear to convert and the client would like it to go away. I said I thought that might be difficult at this point. It actually ranks very well for the phrase leading with free and I'm sure there are folks who would really like that position.


 3:54 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Would reworking the titles to discourage the freebie hunters be an option?

Or: Using a bit of javascript that pops up a banner that says "THIS PRODUCT IS NOT FREE GO AWAY" - based on the referrer having the word free in the query string. Hmm... that would work.

(or serverside same thing).

Anyways - just thinking outloud.


 4:33 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

So the page(s) already include the word free and they already rank well, but none of the free traffic converts to sales, and the owner wants it to go away, but removing the word free isn't an option??


 4:52 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

You could try to scare away the searchers for "free" (as no cost) by playing with the text until the meta description and Google snippet make it clear what the word "free" is about.

This is a clear failure of SE algo, let the SE know...

click watcher

 4:59 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

OT but any chance of selling links to sites that would like the traffic of the for-free searchers


 5:54 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Is there anything you could offer that would be free? E.g. e-mail address, newsletter, etc.

Robert Charlton

 6:41 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>So the page(s) already include the word free and they already rank well, but none of the free traffic converts to sales, and the owner wants it to go away, but removing the word free isn't an option??<<

This described my confusion too... I'm guessing, and until paynt clarifies that's all I can do, that the phrase might be something like "preservative-free red widgets," which attracts a lot of free red widget seekers. Is this the situation?


 6:53 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

It sounds as if the page titles that appear in the search engines are at the moment not that clear or unabiguous otherwise the surfers would not presumably have clicked the links.


 7:45 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

You are basically right Robert. The free is part of what the product is, so there is no way to remove it and have it make sense.

An example of another product that uses this is copyright free photography. Not our product but something I've noticed would have a similar problem.

Thanks everyone for your input.
<added> Imagine how many free photography visits you'll get with a keyword combo like that.


 9:13 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

>An example of another product that uses this is copyright free photography. Not our product but something I've noticed would have a similar problem.

paynt this cannot be a similar situation can it?

Why might one make a site where
"copyright free photography" would appear as part of the page title or in the keywords .. unless .. thinking out loud:

- to give sample photographs away via a website because the creator had revoked all copyright and made the images public domain and the website wanted free traffic. so make title
"free downloads copyright free images"

- to sell copyright free images on CD for others to use .. if this is the case then the page title can be quite clear

"Professional CD collections of copyright free photography for sale"

Would that not filter the traffic?


 9:55 pm on Feb 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Now it is more clear. :)

One option would be to wait until a Search Engine Anti-Thesaurus [hastingsresearch.com] gets adopted.

The other option would be to cloak the page. I know that seems like an evil word to many, but it certainly is a legitimate solution for your particular problem.

Simply deliver a version to spiders that has all occurences of the word free removed from the copy. I don't see how even an extremely anti-cloaking engine like Google would have a problem with it, since you are doing it to prevent trasffic rather than gain it.


 12:21 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just forward all the free surfers to one of those blind links programs and make a couple bucks from them.


 12:48 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

Mark_A Ė There really are many products that fall into the copyright free category. These are especially useful to folks with websites or multimedia where they will use the item, in this case photography, over and over and donít want the ongoing copyright costs for really quality product.

WebGuerrilla Ė I donít see him opting for cloaking at this point. I love the link you provided though.

It does seem goofy though that I want to send traffic away. If there is a way to make some money off it without compromising the integrity of the site I think thatís something we should consider.

I strive for targeted traffic and this sort of throws water on my flame. It really bugs me and so I want to figure out how to get around it. Honestly, Iíve been pondering this so much lately and just had to toss it out in the mix in hopes you all can help me come up with a solution.


 1:32 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

You could add kw's to the phrase. Theory being that the users you want are getting the "free-whatever" in the serps and it doesn't fit their criteria.

If you add another qualifier "free-whatever-qualifier" it could work out. Since you already have the "free-whatever", you could experiment with the qualifiers/qualifiers.


 1:49 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

Ok john316,

What would you do with a phrase like - copyright free photography? If we're getting tons of free photography traffic and it's actually copyright free photography, how do you eliminate those folks looking for free photography? What would you throw into that mix?


 2:11 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi paynt,

In that case I would go "educational" for the spurrious visitors. A nice link to "Is copyright free photography the same as free photography" ..an FAQ of sorts that would serve to convert those who will never find *good* free photography anyway...maybe another link.."is there really such a thing as free photography"..more education..

Go for conversion and bookmarks, so that when they have found there really is no *good*, free lunch, they know where to find you.

Of course with all these new pages explaining the diff between free photography and copyright free photography, you may get even more hits.


 2:25 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

Actually john316, thatís a good point you made and probably one I should be exploring with regards to this issue. Converting the unconverted :)

So these folks are coming because they think I have free lunch to offer them and what I really need to do is teach them how paying now for what I have to offer will eliminate their need to continue looking for free lunches. Good point. Itís not sending them away unfulfilled or diverting them from visiting or even handing them over for someone else to deal with.

Well, thatís something interesting to ponder.


 3:06 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

One option could be to "un-optimize" by putting enough uses of free in a small-sized graphical form - that might kill the listings if that's a possible goal.

I can see a possible parallel. Like if someone were selling preservative free food products, some might be looking for free food graphics. Or instructions for preservative free canning recipes.

That's putting it in the public domain.

I'm familiar with a niche that wants everything free, anything on the web. It works to their detriment in the long run; with some even "cheap" won't cure the freebie addiction.

It might depend on exactly what they're looking for whether they'd convert, and knowing the particular market.It's very hard to kill a good ranking even if it's useless. But some who look for free will never convert.

Robert Charlton

 3:17 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

I certainly wouldn't kill the ranking... but I think Mark is right when he suggests that the title isn't sufficiently clear. You really just want to prevent server overload.

Possibly a word or two more in your title might do it, if that doesn't dilute your target phrase too much... something like (and this isn't it) "copyright-free photography for sale," to convey the idea that this really isn't free.


 3:24 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi Marcia

>>I'm familiar with a niche that wants everything free, anything on the web.<<

It's due in large part to the business models of the early dot-com disasters, I knew of one site that was giving away free mouse pads and had the audacity to call the people who received them "customers" in the financial reports.

The freeloaders had a great time, but I think it is safe to tell them "get with it" at his point.


 4:13 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

>business models of the early dot-com disasters

john316, it's a bit off-topic but the business model still continues. There are whole cottage industries with all kinds of potential, both in the US and the UK - worldwide actually, who start on a shoestring. They'll often use freeserve or tripod or angelfire to test the waters and even though they have potential to grow into substantial income (some, not all) they get so locked into the free mentality that they get terror-stricken at the thought of spending *anything* at all.

To tie it in to the subject of a marketing site, a good part of that niche will certainly look for, say a tutorial called "free internet marketing information" but might be absolutely phobic about spending money on something they don't really perceive the value of, since their sites have been free and they've still got the mind-set. It's possible that people can be convinced with a good marketing message, but a good part of sales is emotionally motivated and getting past the knot in the stomach when faced with a contract and having to send a check is what the barrier is for them.

"Free" is very emotionally charged and remains a comfort zone to a certain segment of the internet population. Much to their loss unfortunately, because those who catch the vision will eventually drown them out of any visibility because they're open and have a vision and stance of growth rather than fear.

>make some money off it without compromising the integrity of the site I think thatís something

Without using the specific word naturally, maybe something "cheap" is close enough to free. There's a high profile internet marketing site that set up a second one to target a secondary, lower-budget audience. There is s similarity in the business model, but a different type of approach. It started all free, but now it has grown, through viral marketing, to the point where there will be conferences held specifically geared to that secondary market. Even the "main" highly lucrative site offers plenty free including a free newsletter, but has a second, paid newsletter in addition, at a very palatable price. It's grown by being viral with no effort on the part of the site owner, and though information and relevant content has also been deriving substantial income for years with highly targeted affiliate associations. The second was developed through a very small newsletter and syndicated content - all free.

A whole secondary market might possibly be developed out of this free traffic with the right secondary business model.


 8:04 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just to come back on the "copyright free photography" issue one more time..

This is all semantics as is much in life ... words change their meaning over time in specific useage, in my parents youth you could say that someone was a gay person with a completely different meaning than would be ascribed to this term today.

It may be the same with "free" and may also be a case of the client and SEO going for the most often searched for keyword / phrase which might contain some proportion of relevant surfers and a high hit rate rather than the most specifically and closely targetted phrases.

Consider the difference in meaning between the following:

- selling copyright free photographs
- supplying public domain photographs
- selling photographs with useage rights
- offers full non exclusive rights images
- buy public photographic image libraries

These are not yet elegant but there are usually many ways to say something and these may afford you more or less specific traffic to your needs.

Just a thought, off for my breakfast now.


 9:22 am on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)


You want traffic for "copyright free photography" but are ranking well for "free photography".

john is right the users need educating - but you need to do that in a way that leaves no ambiguity for them. Most people don't know the difference between the two terms.

The more I think about this situation the better the javascript popup seems.

On a visit where the referrer is not your own domain do this check, if the referrer string includes "free" but not one of your combos "royalty, copyright" etc. Popup a brief infomercial - "This page is not for free photographs but copyright free photographs - if you don't know the difference click here" and then go through the full information.

It won't hit your existing users and only effect those searching for "free photographs" "free photographs of cats" etc.

Make the page v.quick to load, or use javascript to embed it on the main page - at the top in big friendly purple letters.


 4:46 pm on Feb 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

This may work...

Try putting astericks, hyphens or letters matching the background color between the letters of "free", for example f-r-e-e.

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