Article Marketing Exposed: Professional How-To’s for Promoting with Articles
By Karon Thackston ::
More than 100 years ago, a savvy public relations professional offered a guest article to a publisher — a guest article written by his client. The magazine accepted, and article marketing was born. Today, it remains a compelling way to distribute content and achieve branding success.
Article marketing offers two longstanding perks proven to bring success:
1. Free Exposure
Let’s say you own a company that produces organic dog food. A significant segment of your client base will, no doubt, be pet owners. In order to reach them, you can either pay for advertising, or use any number of publicity techniques that are lowcost, even free.
2. Positioning as an Expert
Only those who are knowledgeable and successful are typically accepted as guest authors. That means, as a guest author, you are viewed as an expert. To have another publication allow you to speak to its audience lends a great deal of credibility to your name or brand.
The Internet Influence
A decade ago, website owners began to publish electronic magazines (e-zines) that required regular, quality content. That necessity led to the first article distribution (AD) websites.
These sites were (and still are) designed as article supermarkets. Once you upload your article to an AD site, it is made available to countless website owners, e-zine publishers and bloggers. You provide quality content free of charge in exchange for promotion to a related website’s audience. The result is exposure on an exponential scale, free of charge for a publisher or website owner.
Once reprinted on other websites or blogs, your article can:
• Position your brand before your particular target market
• Increase your link popularity (depending on the link quality of each site)
• Open new doors for social relationships
• Drive qualified traffic to your website through direct clicks
• Provide an infinite source of free advertising
• Propagate almost instantly across the Internet
• Achieve global reach
Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Article Marketing
Those who publish quality articles have dramatically greater success than those who churn out shallow, mass-produced junk. If the content isn’t suitable for being republished, you’ll be wasting your time on efforts that won’t bring the desired return.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when writing articles.
- Do write articles that provide solid, helpful information.
- Don’t try to pass off articles that sing the praises of you or your company. Keep that content for press releases, where selfpromotion is accepted by media outlets.
- Do select specific topics that allow you
to give instruction, reveal something previously
unknown, or explain a difficult
process. Unbiased reviews, case studies, and
how-to articles are all good choices and
have a good chance of being picked up.
- Don’t write articles about broad topics that have little overall value to the reader.
- Do learn how to write great headlines. Some of the most effective headlines use numbers, provide specifics of the content, and make use of enticing power words.
- Don’t take your headlines for granted.
Buy a book on headlines or go to social
media and news sites to see which headlines
grab your attention. Often, popular
stories on social media sites gain high visibility
by their headlines alone. Look for
those stories with high positioning and
take note of their headlines.
The Most Common Mistake
Writing selfpromotional articles is the most common downfall of authors. Publishers have no desire to run a piece that reads like an infomercial transcript. If you hope to have your articles picked up and reprinted, you’ll need to write like an unbiased professional. You will have a chance for self-promotion in your bio and through the link building which results in your article being republished on other websites. The goal of effective article marketing is to build your name and your brand as an authority, not to announce a new product or service.
Distribution Methods & Mediums
You have numerous options for distributing your articles. Obvious choices include publishing your articles on your own website, blog or e-zine. However, you can get the word out by also using one or more of these methods:
Standard AD Sites
ArticleDashboard.com, SearchWarp.com, and others will host your article free of charge for others to find and reprint.
Social Media Sites
Sphinn, Digg, Mixx and other similar sites allow you to publish your headline, a summary and a link back to the article on your blog or website. Squidoo, MySpace and others let you include the entire content of your article. All social media sites give others the ability to comment on your work — an important element in today’s online publicity game.
Bidding for Placement
While most standard AD sites put your article on the home page when it’s new, your front-page exposure is time sensitive. Bidding for placement allows you to keep your positioning for as long as you have the highest bid, and offers other perks. IdeaMarketers.com is one site that uses this innovative approach.
If you’re using Twitter, you’ll want to announce your article to your followers, and give a link to where it can be read. Good articles have a way of spreading through Twitter and reaching even those who don’t know of your company or brand.
Creating a customized distribution list that consists of the above, along with individually- researched websites and offline publications, is the key to getting effective coverage. Be sure to find influential resources within your industry and add them to your list.
The SEO Equation
For SEO purposes, all articles published online need to include keyword-rich anchor text links in the bio section. This is the primary element that will give your link popularity a boost.
There has been some debate lately about the link quality of AD sites. Whether or not the link quality of AD sites themselves has degraded over time is a nonissue. Directories have always been a jumping-off point — they should not be viewed as the final destination of articles. The goal has always been to have your article picked up from directories and reprinted on authority sites or blogs. That’s where the biggest linking benefits are found.
Whether published online or off, a standard form of bio is usually added at the end of every article. This is your chance to publicize your company, products and services. You should include your name, position and a short plug. A typical bio reads something like this:
"Karon Thackston is President of Marketing Words and author of the Article Marketing & Distribution course at Search Engine College. Visit Karon’s site at MarketingWords.com or click to SearchEngineCollege.com for course details."
Article marketing is not a complex process. It consists of writing quality articles, finding appropriate online and offline distribution outlets, and then posting your work.
For over 100 years, article marketing has been an effective way to gain publicity and encourage new business. By combining proven techniques of the past with a few online strategies, you can make this century-old marketing method pay off for you.
Writing like a Professional:
When a blog, e-zine or other publishing website decides to run an article from a third party, it becomes a reflection on its brand. Therefore, publishers look for quality writing. Hone your writing skills for both headlines and content by taking advantage of some free resources like these listed below.
Daily Writing Tips: This extensive resource offers tips for business writing, fiction and freelance, along with grammar and punctuation tips, vocabulary and basic writing rules. The site is updated often, so it makes a good addition to your feed reader.
The Roberts Group Writing Tips: 11 Ways to Improve Your Writing and Your Business is an excellent online booklet that gives very practical, easy-to-understand guidelines to writing better copy.
Grammar Girl: This collection of podcasts hosted by Mignon Fogarty attacks common writing questions, such as “who” vs. “whom,” and other writing stumbling blocks.
About the Author: Karon Thackston is President of Marketing Words, a copywriting agency specializing in natural-sounding SEO copy and online article marketing. More information, including Karon’s blog, can be found at MarketingWords.com.