Sign up for our daily recaps of the ever-changing search marketing landscape.
A Step By Step Guide To Effective Online Article Marketing – Part II
Effective article marketing is not about submitting articles to article submission sites. 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.
Previously in A Step By Step Guide To Effective Online Article Marketing, I covered the first step in effective article marketing; writing quality, useful articles for your own website. I also talked about how to find article ideas and how to get articles written if you don’t have the time or can’t write.
Once you have the capability to get articles written and have a number of high quality articles to point to as examples, you can begin marketing articles to related websites and blogs. In this column, I’ll cover the steps we take to build a media list of online magazines, news sites, blogs etc and how to market articles to them.
The Goals Of Online Article Marketing
Here again are our goals for online article marketing:
- Improve visibility for target keyword phrases.
- Obtain traffic for additional (long tail) keyword searches.
- Help attract more incoming links to a site.
- Assist in building awareness and reputation.
- Increasing targeted traffic from related sites.
- Helps make a website more unique and useful.
How To Build A Media List
Here are the steps we take to identify potential related websites to focus on for article marketing. First we build a media list, a list of online industry magazines, news, blogs, and related sites.
Check the strong links on competing sites
We look at the sites that link to our clients’ top known competitors as well as those sites ranking high in searches on important keyword phrases. Yes, standard link building 101, but we do it manually and thoroughly examine the competitors’ sites and most of the sites that link to them (at least the strong links) for marketing opportunities, ideas and sites to add to our media list. We look at what appear to be the “Strong Links” to a site, i.e. sites that may be passing LinkJuice using a couple of tools.
Strong link tools
Here are some tools that we use to identify strong links as well as a few other available tools.
- LinkDiagnosis. This is one of the tools we use at the moment. It’s free. It’s a Firefox tool that identifies strong links based on Google PageRank and the number of outbound links.
- Wordtracker Link Builder. We just started testing this tool on a few projects and it looks very promising, Not only can you specify web sites to look at, but it will also look at the top ranking sites for specific keywords.
- SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer. SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer is based on SEOmoz’s LinkScape web index. It identifies strong links using their own ranking model.
- MajesticSEO Site Explorer. MajesticSEO does their own crawl of the web. Their Site Explorer tool identifies strong links from their index using a criterion called ACRank which is a measurement of external links.
Examine the strong incoming links
Run one or more of the strong link tools on competing sites and their blogs if they are not part of the site, as well as sites ranking high for your important keywords etc.
Examine the sites identified as strong incoming links.Some of these sites will be industry news, magazines, blogs, etc. Add these to your media list and gather information about them now or later (see the section below on How to Use a Media List for what to look for).
About Nofollow links
Some of the strong link tools point out websites or pages that are strong for many of the factors they measure however the links are indentified as including a “nofollow” attribute. This means these links are probably not going to help rankings. Don’t let this be much of a factor. Having articles or mentions of articles on high quality, well trafficked online magazines and blogs can help build awareness and bring visitors to your site.
How To Find More Online Magazines, Blogs, Etc
Using the above technique you should find some top magazines, journals, blogs etc. Try the following tips to find more.
Search engines and directories
Search on your important topics and append some of the following phrases in top directories* and the general search engines. For example, if you are in the travel business, search for:
“travel magazines”, “travel articles”, “travel journals”, “travel news”, “travel blogs”
In Bing, examine the list of related searches displayed in the left column. In Google, check “Related Searches” by choosing the “More search tools” link in the left column then click “Related Searches”.
Try Google’s blog search at http://blogsearch.google.com. You can also search on “blog search” in Google or Bing and you’ll find many other blog search engines.
This used to one of our “go to” tools for finding top blogs. You used to be able to scan or search for blogs and see engagement data such as the number of comments, tweets, bookmarks, etc.
PostRank was acquired by Google and is in a state of flux. Now they offer a Chrome or Safari extension that is supposed to show engagement data in Google Reader, Google News, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, even in Google’s main SERPs. We’re having some success with this, but sometimes we see rankings, sometimes we don’t. To give it a try go to: labs.postrank.com/gr
Also check out:
- Technorati Blog Directory. You can scan the directory or search on a topic.
- BlogRank. BlogRank collects data on a growing number of blogs and ranks them based on a number of criteria including RSS membership, incoming links, Google PageRank, number of visitors, popularity in social sites, etc
- AdAge Power 150. If the topic is marketing, check this list on AdAge (Hey, Search Engine Land is number 3!).
Page strength and traffic tools
Most of the websites and blogs that you find at the top of the search listings are probably worth examining. You can also check them with some of the Page Strength tools that are available, Most show PageRank and other indicators of page strength including social media info etc. We use SEO Site Tools on Chrome and SEOquake on Firefox.
You can also check if Compete.com or quantcast.com has traffic data for a site by searching on the domain. Take any traffic data with a “grain of salt” as they are often inaccurate. However, the fact that traffic data is even available for a site in Compete or quantcast (or even better; in both) is a good indicator.
How To Market To The Media List
Prioritize the list if needed. If you’ve performed some of the steps outlined above, you’ve probably found a number of online industry magazines and news sites, and way too many blogs. You’ll likely need to prioritize the list of blogs and possibly the magazines as well.
If you found a blog or magazine in the strong links to a top competing site that should be one major deciding factor. Examine all of them for quality (is it a high quality, useful site to your market, with limited advertising?).
Use some of the other tips above to decide which ones are worthy of your time such as checking blogs in PostRank or BlogRank, using a Page Strength and traffic reporting tool, etc. Give a lot of extra weight to any online magazines and blogs that have a reputation in your industry,
Marketing to online magazines
There’s often a blur between online magazines and blogs. For our purposes here, by online magazines we mean sites with a number of authors, editors, and often an editorial calendar as opposed to a blog that has one key person to interact with.
- Get to know one or more contacts personally such as associate editors or look for authors of articles and reach out to these journalists.
- Let them know you are available for expert industry quotes for their articles.
- Ask if they are interested in specific article ideas, many magazines have an editorial calendar available listing the types of articles they plan to publish for each publication for a year in advance so look around for it or better yet, ask them for it. Some magazines accept freelance articles while others may write about your idea.
- Ask if they’d like to receive notice of any of your press releases early or would entertain exclusive PR ideas.
- Follow some of the key people as well as the site on Twitter, Facebook etc. Some of these people may see your announcements of other articles such as those published on your own site and link to them if they are useful or interesting.
- It always helps to ask about advertising opportunities, newsletter sponsorship etc and it could be worth testing some of these opportunities.
Marketing to top bloggers
- Look on the site/blog for ways to start building a relationship e.g. subscribing to a feed etc.
- Look at their posts for article ideas.
- Add them to your blogroll if the blog is helpful to your readers.
- Mention their helpful articles in your blog, this is both helpful to your readers and helps build a relationship with the blogger.
- Submit their very useful articles to some of the social sites you use. They’ll likely see this.
- Follow them on Twitter, Facebook etc and they will hopefully do the same in response and may see your article announcements.
- Submit useful comments, suggestions, answer questions. Include your signature with a link if allowed (Don’t spam, it will probably get deleted anyway)
- Consider testing advertising on their blog if they offer it.
After you’ve built up some level of a relationship:
- Ask if they are interested in specific article ideas or help with research, surveys, industry expert quotes etc.
- See if they accept “Guest Blogger” articles, buyers guides etc
- Contact them about writing about or testing your exclusive products or services.
- Ask if they will be a guest writer for you.
- The “Grey Area”: Send them freebies or offer freebies or coupons to their readers etc.
Note: Most want exclusive articles. Many top industry sites don’t republish articles used anywhere else. They want unique, exclusive articles. Propose new article ideas to them, not any articles you’ve already published on your own site unless you are willing to completely rewrite it for them.
Announce each of your useful articles
Announce your articles, both those published on your own site (see part 1) and those published on other sites, through the social networks that you use and other communication vehicles (like email blasts, e-newsletters, etc).
If they are truly useful articles some people, including some of the folks at these top industry sites with whom you’ve built up relationships, will share them or link to them. This can help improve rankings and get more people to read your articles and learn what you have to offer. Some of the strong links we see to websites that have done a great job of article marketing, for example, come from the top industry sites mentioning and linking to useful articles hosted on the company’s main website.
When To Submit To Article Submission Sites
As mentioned in Part 1, having an article posted in most article submission sites with a link to your website is probably not going to help your website’s rankings at all.
However, there are some possible benefits from posting articles in article submission sites including:
Sometimes articles posted in article submission sites do get found by people searching on the topic. If the article is of decent quality and useful to them there is some branding/awareness value, you may get some people clicking through to your site from the article, and some of these people may forward or share your article.
There is the possbility that some high quality websites will republish your article on their website. This might pass LinkJuice to your site as well as help with branding, get people clcking through to your site, and again some of these people may forward or share your article.
It’s ok to submit an article published on your site after it is indexed by the major search engines. Just type the title of your article into the Google or Bing search field (using quotes). If it shows up, it’s indexed.
Note: Only submit articles that are published on one or your own sites, never submit one of your articles that has been published on an industry magazine or blog as they have copyrights to that content.
Special thanks to Karen Thackston of Marketing Words for her input on article submssion sites.
An effective article marketing program can produce long lasting results for branding, traffic, keyword visibly, and rankings. One website we examined, for example, had strong incoming links pointing to articles published on their website as much as five years earlier.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.