To be free or not to be free? That is the question many content providers are asking these days.

Says SEO Book author Aaron Wall in a Search Engine Land article: "Free content can spread far and get many links, but it won't produce any revenue directly. If it is paid, a much smaller audience will see it, and potentially one of them will be a competitor who will recycle your work and make it public to pull in links."

The solution: blend the two.

Take the Financial Times, for instance. You can view up to nine pages a month for free, and then pay for the tenth page and beyond. Says Wall, "This model works well because it leaves the content open to the active Web for linking and social media exposure while also making the content accessible for search engines to index and rank it to build up a passive latent audience."

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