Sign up for our daily recaps of the ever-changing search marketing landscape.
A Step By Step Guide To Effective Online Article Marketing
Online article marketing can effectively improve organic search results in a number of ways:
- Improve visibility for your target keyword phrases
- Obtain traffic for additional (long tail) keyword searches
- Assist in building awareness and reputation
- Increase targeted traffic from other quality related websites
- Helps attract more incoming links to your site
- Helps make your website more unique and useful
Google’s Panda update showed once again, that it’s important to have high quality, unique content. We recently evaluated a large ecommerce website that was stung by the Panda update. They have a few issues that have probably hurt them, but one of the areas of concern included many articles they had written and placed on various websites, many of which had been devalued in Panda.
In this article, I’ll cover the steps we take with article marketing. These steps have been developed from years of examining what competitors of our clients have done to become the ranking and traffic leaders in their industries. Effective article marketing is a key strategy for many of them.
Effective Article Marketing Is NOT About Submitting To Article Submissions Sites!
Let’s dispel a misconception right now. Submitting articles to article submission sites, especially low quality articles written primarily for search results, does little for you.
We examined the results of the work done for one of our clients, for example, by their prior SEO who was writing low quality articles and submitting them to article submission sites like ehow.com with links to their site. These articles where doing almost nothing for them (and this was prior to Panda). Checking their analytics, we saw that no traffic ever came from these article submission sites, ever! It’s very unlikely that these articles helped their search engine rankings at all.
Most article submission sites do not pass much, if any “link juice” (or PageRank or whatever you want to call it) to the sites the articles link to. We found none of these articles in any of the tools we use to identify strong links, those that may be helping improve search positions. Finally, none of the articles were ever picked up and run by any other site (no surprise as they’re not very good or useful articles).
Having your Web marketing company produce low quality articles is of little value to anybody (other than the marketing company that gets paid to write the articles).
The Goals Of Online Article Marketing
Effective article marketing is about writing quality articles that are useful or interesting to your market, using some on your own website and getting some published on other related websites.
Here are our goals for online article marketing for our clients:
- Improving Organic Search Results (Getting found for more keyword searches and helping to increase rankings).
- Help Attract Incoming Links To The Site.
- Building Awareness And Often Reputation Building.
- Increasing Targeted Traffic From Related Sites.
- To Help Make A Web Site More Unique And Useful (e.g. Help educate your readers, help them decide what products/services to buy, etc.).
Step 1: Start Writing Quality, Useful Articles For Your Own Web Site
Later, we’ll outline how to market articles to related websites but if you aren’t writing quality articles now, then get started by writing articles to use on your own website. You need some momentum and a critical mass of example articles before you can market articles to others.
Write articles that will be helpful to your website visitors and place summaries of the articles around your website where your site visitors will see them when they are interested in the topic. Don’t just put them in a blog or section of the site where most of your website visitors may never see them.
Crutchfield, the electronics reseller, for example, does an excellent job using articles on their website. Helpful articles (and more and more videos) are suggested as visitors examine product pages or browse product categories.
Browse to the Home Theater categories page, for example, and you’ll see articles and videos suggested such as those in the screen shot below.
Make It Easy For Readers To Click Through To Related Products & Services
You want to make it easy for your article readers to get back to the location on your website they were looking at when they clicked to read the article.
For this reason, it’s best to host the articles on your website surrounded by the same or a very similar page template (banner, navigation sections etc) as that on the webpage they were looking at when they clicked through to the article.
It’s ok to host the articles in your blog, but it’s ideal if the blog has the same or similar page template too. We suggest that for most marketers your blog be a part of your main website, not a separate blog web site (See “Where to put your blog for best search engine results“). Put any articles that you do not use on your main website in your blog.
- Include links in your articles to products and services
Add links within the article or at the end of the article (or both) to get people who read the article to click through the main website, ideally to product or service category or item pages related to the article. As you progress with article marketing and get more and more people linking or sharing your articles, these links will help pass additional PageRank to your product and service pages helping them to rank better.
- Add social sharing buttons and announce your articles
Add social sharing buttons (such as Facebook, Twitter, etc) to your articles. Announce each of your useful articles through your social networks and other communication vehicles (like e-newsletters, etc) that you use. If they are truly useful articles some people will share them or link to them, which will help improve rankings and get more people to read them and learn what you have to offer.
Placing articles on your website helps entice visitors to read them why they are looking at related topics they are interested in. Useful articles help convey your expertise and make your webpages more unique (more important than ever after Panda).
In addition, these articles add content to the site that search engines should index and they’ll likely be found in searches. Finally, as you progress with article and social marketing, you’ll likely attract more and more incoming links to your articles from related websites bringing more targeted traffic and helping to increase rankings.
How To Find Article Ideas
You should never be at a loss for ideas for useful articles. Here are some tips to come up with compelling content.
Use your favorite keyword research tool to search on your important product or service keywords and see what related information people are searching for. You can write articles that address some of these searches.
For example, if your site is all about luggage and you see a number of people searching on phrases such as “carryon luggage regulations”, “carryon luggage sizes” etc you might write an article about carryon luggage regulations and sizes and include links to relevant pages on your site.
In this manner not only will you be helping to make your site more useful to your visitors, these articles will probably be returned in search results for people searching on phrases such as “carryon luggage regulations” who may read your article and learn about what you have to offer.
What questions are you often asked about your products or services? Think about writing articles that answer some of those questions.
Search for articles ideas
You’ll usually find many articles by searching on your primary topic, product or service keywords and appending “articles” or “blogs” to the query such as “travel articles” or “travel blogs”. Or, search on the keywords within some of the article submission sites (search on “articles” and you’ll find tons of submission sites) . Scan through the article headlines for ideas (Ideas = inspiration. Not plagiarism.)
But I Can’t (Or Don’t Have The Time) To Write Articles
Can’t write or don’t have the time to write articles? Here are some ways to get articles written.
Empower your people
Perhaps some of the people who sell or market your products would just love to write articles. See the Crutchfield site mentioned above. Most of those articles and videos were developed by their product marketing folks.
Ask your customers
Perhaps some of your customers can write articles such as case stories like “how we use xx” type of articles.
Ideally, most of your articles should be original, but you could hire writers who specialize in your topics to produce useful articles. There are networks of writers who specialize in many topics. You can find some of them while you are searching for article ideas (See the section above).
As you look for article ideas, search on the names of the authors. Many times you’ll discover the author is a freelance writer who specializes in a couple of fields. Contact them about writing for you. It’s best to be honest and include the writer’s name as the author.
Use ghost writers?
This is an ethical question that I’m on the fence about and have never used myself or for any client. I believe it may be ok to use a ghost writer (such as a freelance writer who specializes in your field/topic) if you work closely with them, outline your initial thoughts, let them do research for you if needed, oversee the development of the article, work with them to revise the article, and make sure the article is accurate and reflects your knowledge and opinions.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.