Anyone who has perused the various Internet marketing forums has probably seen numerous threads proclaiming the “death of article marketing”. Fortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth. What is true however, is that the days of profiting from low-quality, poorly researched articles are long gone.
If you followed the industry news immediately after Google released their “Panda” update last February, you probably would have come across articles mentioning the loss in position and rankings for article directories and “content farms”, particularly Ezinearticles.com. In fact this is where the Panda update got its nickname of “Farmer” since it appeared to target “content farms”.
While the update did have a significant impact on these sites, it’s not because these sites fall into a particular group or category, but because they had become repositories of so many low-quality and low originality articles.
The solution is the same as for any content anywhere now: longer, higher quality, original content.
The objectives for article marketing are three-fold:
- To have your articles ranked in the search engines,
- To create content that draws readers in enough to want to click on your links or ‘click through’ to your website, and
- To have your content syndicated, or re-published, in order to widen it’s reach.
The key to effective article marketing for traffic is going to be your title. I can’t over-state the importance of a strong title. If your title isn’t both relevant and interesting, not only won’t the article get read, but few worthwhile webmasters will choose to syndicate it.
But beyond just being interesting or eye-catching, it must integrate the keywords or keyword phrases you are targeting. The fact of the matter is only a relatively small percentage of readers will find your article on an article directory site. Most will find it through a general search. (In the case of republished or syndicated articles, while it is the host site that is delivering traffic to your article, the title is what will get it read).
Successful article marketing requires focusing on three different aspects:
- The article itself – keyword research, title, and content.
- The links – leveraging those all-important links to our target.
- Promotion – getting our articles to rank, and getting them syndicated.
In our “Traffic $100k Blueprint” course, we published our in-house ‘formula’, the framework we use ourselves for developing and implementing all of our sites and site ideas: “E-I-A-C”. It stands for Evaluate, Identify, Acquire, and Convert. It’s essentially a “work backwards” plan to help insure that new ideas are feasible, and that we reach our goals when we implement. Applying that to article marketing, that first step is to “Evaluate” our end goal. This lets us narrow our keyword research and determine what our links will be. Are we trying to promote a product or offer? Are we trying to get traffic to our site? Etc…
Identifying our platform and Aquiring our traffic are already answered as ‘article marketing’.
How we Convert will depend on that initial ‘end goal’ evaluation – either point our links to an affiliate offer, or to our website. I should mention that in this ‘new world’ of article marketing, we don’t ever want to do “direct linking” – having our links be affiliate links. Instead, if we do want to send traffic directly to an offer, we’ll use re-directs, which will be covered more below. We’ll also provide a sample you can use in the.
This is obviously the most important aspect; if the article isn’t any good, it won’t rank, it won’t get syndicated, and if someone does happen to find it, they probably won’t read it through, which means they won’t get to your link.
Depending on what we are targeting, the first step should be our initial keyword research. We want to find keywords or keyword phrases that are appropriate for the article, have some reasonable level of search volume, and aren’t too competitive.
From that keyword research, we want to choose one keyword or keyword phrase for each article. If we intend on doing only one article, then we would want to pick either the highest volume, or easiest to rank keyword. However, successful article marketing should entail campaigns of many articles for each objective.
For each article, we want to work our chosen keywords into the title, while also ensuring it is an effectively catchy title.
For example, if we are in the ‘dating’ niche with an end goal of sending traffic to a niche dating site, and our keyword choice is “asian women”, a title such as:
“What You Must Know If You Ever Want To Get Dates With Asian Women”
will be much more effective than:
“How To Date Asian Women”
Create your title, and have that dictate what the article will be about, NOT the other way around.
Once you have your title and know what the article will be about, you have to get it written. Whether you write them yourself or outsource them (check the ‘Resources’ section for help with outsourcing), they MUST be of the highest-possible quality, and 100% grammatically correct. It’s astonishing how many articles have grammatical and/or typographical errors in them; don’t let yours be one of them.
Since our objective is for the reader to want to take that ‘next step’ after reading our article, we want to structure our articles accordingly. This means not only keeping their interest while they’re reading, but giving them reason to ‘click’ afterwards. The best way to do this is to ‘set up’ that click or next step, by baiting them – ending the article while they’re still ‘hungry’ for information, and presenting our link as the way to get it.
An easy and successful format to use is:
Introduction – what the ‘dilemma’ or question is that this article will address. Using our title example above, this might mean something along the lines of, “Dating Asian women isn’t easy; if you don’t know a few things unique to Asian women, you can expect a lot of rejection. This article will tell you what you need to know…”
Body – this is the ‘meat’ of the article, where you’ll provide the information suggested in the title and introduction.
Close – here you summarize what you’ve told them, while letting them know why they need to take that next step, something along the lines of “As you can see, dating Asian women is different than dating other women.”
Resource Box – this is where you direct them to that next step, clicking your link. Forget about writing anything about you; this is what all your efforts are directed to. You want your resource box to essentially be a continuation of your article, with a strong “call to action”. Using the same example, you might write something like “Click here to learn EXACTLY how to put this into action…”, or “Click here if you’re ready to date Asian women right now…”. It’s worth noting that both of those examples begin with “Click here”. Through my own and others’ testing, this has the highest click-through rate.
Article Length – 250-word articles won’t do anything for you, and in fact most article directories no longer allow these ‘mini-articles’. Consider 500 words as the minimum for articles. While ‘conventional wisdom’ says that shorter is better so that a reader gets to the resource box links, it’s for naught if the article is never found.
With the recent “Panda” updates, article length plays a much more important role now in ranking. Whether it’s for article marketing or content on your own site, articles should be a minimum of 400 words; 500+ is better.
Pen Names – pen names are crucial in article marketing as they allow you to ‘segment’ your articles by niche, and allow you to be an ‘authority’ in many niches. Use a different pen name for each different niche you market to.
Syndication & Distribution
The more places our article appears, the more traffic it can generate. There are two aspects to syndication: having our articles picked up from article directories, and distributing them to multiple sites.
As far as having them picked up from the article directories, this will depend almost entirely on how well we crafted our title, however we also have to be ‘in the running’, meaning we have to show up when someone looks there for articles.
In addition to having our keyword(s) in our title, we want to make sure and take advantage of any ‘summary’ and ‘keywords’ or ‘tags’ entries that an article directory has. Our ‘summary’ should be similar to our ‘introduction’ – what question or dilemma the article addresses. Keywords and/or tags should obviously include our target keyword, but should also have a ‘wider’ range of keywords, since the objective is for our article to show up in as many queries as possible. Using our example, a keyword or tag list might include “dating, romance, asian women, single women, online dating, relationships, marriage”.
Beyond syndication from the article directory, we can submit to multiple directories and other syndication services.
NOTE: Be careful in your submissions; some article directories, such as Ezinearticles.com and Buzzle.com require exclusive submission.
One way to syndicate to multiple sources is to spin your article. With the advent of good spinners such as The Best Spinner, it is relatively easy and straightforward to spin one article into many. This is one of the best ways to leverage content, however it is CRUCIAL that you make the effort to create ‘quality’ spins, of AT LEAST 50% ‘uniqueness’. This means taking the time to generate very readable and coherent spins.
Spinning also makes it easy to syndicate our content to Social Bookmark sites, Web 2.0 sites such as Hubpages and Squidoo, and to use for our own sites.
There are a number of ‘syndication services’, including article distribution services, that will send your articles to other directories, blogs, and webmasters. One of the best and most widely used is Unique Article Wizard; check the ‘Resources’ section for more on UAW. Other services include Brad Callen’s SEOLinkvine (http://www.seolinkvine.com/) and iSnare (http://www.isnare.com/), as well as blog syndication communities like Blogengage (http://www.blogengage.com/) and Bloggersbase (http://www.bloggersbase.com/).
Note: Shane Melaugh, a brilliant internet marketer and colleague, published a terrific review & comparison of these networks. You can find it here: http://imimpact.com/blog-network-roundup-review/
When using syndication services, it’s imperative to realize that in most cases, articles are ‘manually’ approved. This means someone has to ‘approve’ your article before it is published. If you follow the guidelines for title and content, you will have a very high ‘approval’ or acceptance rate, which translates into many more instances of your article being published.
Guest Blogging & Blog Syndication
Separate from syndication services, there are virtually unlimited opportunities for additional article syndication through “guest blogging” and blog submission/re-publishing.
The idea behind “guest blogging” is to provide articles or blog posts to existing niche or topical blog owners, who then publish them as “guest-written” articles. It provides the blog owner with opportunities to add quality content that they don’t have to write themselves, while positioning it as a value-add ‘extra’ for their readers. This means of course that the articles themselves must be quality, relevant pieces.
Finding “guest blogging” opportunities is as easy as finding relevant blogs and contacting the owner/webmaster. The majority of blog owners will welcome the opportunity to add “guest-written” content so long as it’s good, quality, relevant material. Some blogs even solicit “guest bloggers” on their blogs.
Similar to “guest blogging”, you can syndicate your content simply by offering it to blogs owners/publishers, contacting them directly and asking if they’d like to have some additional content. Really the only difference with “guest blogging” is that they may not be looking to provide author credit. As long as they’re willing to include your link(s) however, you accomplish your goals.
An excellent resource for finding relevant blogs, both for “guest blogging” and simple submission, is Technorati (http://www.technorati.com/). Technorati is a blog search engine, with over 150 million blogs indexed. Technorati uses ‘tags’ as it’s primary means to index blogs.
Some article directories, such as Ezinearticles.com, have become ‘Authority’ sites, meaning their domain has significant ‘domain authority’ with Google. This of course makes it easier to rank through those directories, and one reason why articles often show up high in the search results.
We can take further advantage of this fact. Most article directories will use the article title as part of the URL for that article. This means we can ‘piggy-back’ on these ‘Authority’ domains! This becomes extremely effective when we’ve done good keyword research, and included it in our title, which results in our article having a strong ‘Authority’ domain AND our keyword as part of it’s URL.
Boosting the ranking for our articles further is simply a matter of doing the same things we would do to rank our own sites: getting backlinks.
In other words, an integral part of article marketing includes building backlinks to our published articles. If you haven’t already, I STRONGLY suggest you read the ‘Ranking’ section our Traffic Blueprint course.
In the “Article Marketing Blueprint”, you will find a basic back-linking campaign. Obviously, the more effort you apply to this, the quicker and better your articles will rank.
Depending on what our objective is, we will either be linking back to our target site, or to an offer. If we are linking to our target site, then the link will be a straightforward link. However if we are linking to an offer, we ALWAYS want to use a re-direct. Not only do some article directories not allow affiliate links, but we run a risk – a product offer could change, the provider could go under, etc. By using re-directs, we maintain control of the links and can change or update them if necessary.
There are two ways we can do these re-directs. First, we can have the re-direct happen at our site. To do this, we create a text file of a redirect, and upload it to our site, then use that as the link in our articles.
Alternately, we can do the re-direct at the ISP or domain registrar. Almost all ISP’s and registrars provide an option to have a domain re-directed. While this can be costlier, it gives us the tremendous advantage of having a domain name tailored to our article and offer.
For example, I have a number of articles in the singles/dating niche, and registered the domain match-me.org. That domain re-directs to a dating site using my affiliate link. I can change the link it re-directs to at any time.
Article Marketing Do’s, Don’ts, and Guidelines
Below are some general guidelines, taken from my own experience, and from the definitive course on article marketing, Tim Gorman’s “Article Marketing Soldiers”. It’s worth noting that much of my own success with this strategy has come from following Tim’s guidance over the years.
I cannot recommend his course strongly enough; it’s incredibly comprehensive, regularly undated, and simply the best route to becoming the expert article marketer. You can find it here: http://www.traffic100kblueprint.com/ams/
Copy What Works. On most article directories, you can find the “Most Viewed”, “Most Published”, and similar listings. By skimming through these, you’ll start to see common traits, such as types of titles, similar resource box formats, etc. This is one of the best ways to improve your own success; see what the already-successful articles and marketers have in common, and do like they do.
Quality, Quality, Quality. In his excellent “Bring The Fresh” <<<BTF Link>>> course, master marketer Mike Long shows how he has been able to completely dominate the search engines, repeatedly, solely through the use of article marketing. His secret? Extremely high quality articles, and lots of them. Well-written titles and quality content. Say it with me, “well written titles, and quality content; well written titles, and quality content; well written titles, and quality content …”
Know The Terms Of Service. Make sure you read and understand the individual TOS for the directories you submit to. They aren’t identical, nor are they always ‘common sense’. There’s nothing worse than putting in the time & effort to create your articles and having them rejected, except perhaps having your entire account shut down.
Leverage Your Efforts. If you’re going to the trouble to research a topic or subject, take advantage of your new-found expertise; in most cases, it’s easier to write multiple articles on similar topics than to switch gears after each and create entirely different articles. Leverage those efforts further through spinning or re-writing so that one article becomes many.
Don’t Squander Your Resource Box. The whole point of all of this is to get that ‘next step’ click on your link. Don’t waste your resource box on anything other than getting that click-through. Create a strong ‘call to action’ and set it up at the end of the article.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket. Spread the joy, don’t limit yourself to just one article directory. Too many people consider ‘article marketing’ to be ‘submitting to Ezinearticles’.
Be Consistent And Persistent. As with most traffic strategies, article marketing is a process, not an action. Don’t ‘submit an article’, create and execute ‘article marketing campaigns’.
Re-Purpose Your Articles
One of the best ways to leverage your article content is to “re-purpose” it in other formats (similarly, you should take your “other” content and re-purpose it by transcribing it into articles).
Most articles can be quickly & easily re-purposed into various formats such as audio podcast, slide presentation, PDF, and video. Odiogo (http://www.odiogo.com/) will automatically turn an article or your entire blog into audio and distribute as a podcast, for free!
Alternately, you can simply record yourself reading your article, save as an audio file, and distribute as a podcast. Similarly, you can summarize your article as bullet points and turn it into a slideshow. You can further narrate over that same slide show and save as a video. Generating a PDF to submit to document sharing sites is as easy as using a PDF converter (Sun’s OpenOffice is a free Microsoft Office compatible suite that includes a PDF converter – http://www.openoffice.org/).
Done ‘right’, article marketing is one of the very best traffic and general IM strategies there are. You can build traffic, ranking, stature, and sales, in a sustainable, longer-term manner than almost any other single strategy. For those who want to really take full advantage and leverage it’s power, there is a huge payoff to becoming an ‘expert’ article marketer.