When I was a 10, Denise Anderson gave me my first lesson in, shall we say, choice language.  I think it had something to do with the Girl Scout troop leader and that blessed song we had to belt out while marching a mile to the campsite (and back!) in the peak of June under the Florida sunshine. *shudders*

Today, I have different words for the distasteful and often irritating aspects of life online.  Spam. Bots. Cloaking.  Memes.  Link-dropping in comments. There are many more terms, and some people might throw article marketing into the mix.  But I disagree, provided you have the right objectives and are committed to producing high quality content.

Content in an analog world

Paraphrasing Wikipedia, “Article marketing has been used by professionals about as long as mass media has been around … [a] business provides useful content to the newspaper free of charge, and in return the newspaper prints the business’ contact information with the article. Because newspapers and other traditional media are expected to present content on limited budgets, this arrangement is generally advantageous for all parties involved.”

Get all scientific on me

There has been a lot of debate about the SEO value of article marketing as well as the ethics of distributing content from directory platforms and the sister practice of republishing content (“spinning” variations of the original content to skirt around the dupe content penalty).  You’ll find a good discussion about some of the technical SEO aspects over on seoMoz if this interests you.  Clearly the academic debate will go on, mainly because GoogleBot is still one of the great mysteries of the modern era – perpetuated by the constant re-invention of the product through universal search, instant anticipation, incorporation of social streams and more.

Rank:  Gotta Get Some

Let’s say you’re not a professional link builder or affiliate marketer — both tough jobs.  But you need to improve your organic SERPs to drive more traffic to your small business site.  Or maybe you own an eCommerce site in a specialty category and sell some considered purchase products — things that prospects typically research quite a bit and mull over before committing to buy.  In either case you may have already worked your on-page elements and  now want to focus on gaining inbound links and spreading the word around about your business.  You just need people to know about you is all.

Article marketing, like any tactic, isn’t a silver bullet.  Trying your article marketing hand on several sites, you might see mixed results or even run into difficulties properly attributing pieces of your larger SEO strategy to having done this or that.  Lots of moving parts.

All that said, as someone who has managed article marketing programs for several eCommerce sites across both B2C and B2B channels within several markets, there’s Google juice to be slurped.

In the land of small budgets and good web writers

If your’re competing against some highly entrenched niche brands or battling over some really competitive keywords, a constantarticle-marketing-analyticsstream of fresh, well written, and helpful content can really boost site traffic.  The screen shot at the right shows a 2-week comparison of traffic characteristics originating from an article directory.  There are always short term fluctuations, but the big picture has shown me that on average, traffic originating from a directory views more pages and spends a longer time on site.  Repeat:  the good content off-page led them to consume more good content on-page.

Ahh, but what about sales, you ask?  Well in my experience that’s been more of a secondary benefit rather than a goal.  Unless you’re distributing articles with long-tail keywords you’re really not going to pull in people in the “ready to buy” mode.  The click-through rate on the articles I’ve worked with ranges from 11.5% to as high as 14%. Whether the sale takes place immediately or through them circling back, you’re casting a wide net and catching all you can.

When people become so satisfied by your article they’re then interested in learning more (as demonstrated by the click), you have earned the chance to continue pulling them down the conversion path.  Don’t blow it with a disruption in the tone or style of the message lest you be sniffed out for being disingenuous.

You there!  Don’t do that.

Personally, I’m not a proponent of article spinning.  Most would agree that since the intent of spinning is to manipulate the system while providing no additional value to the message, spinning is cheesy.  In theory,  someone performing a search could click on several page one results and stumble onto your article or spin through multiple listings.  While dominating the front page may sound good on one level, it makes for a poor user experience.  I know some folk who have success with spinning, but I suspect the hand of the Goog will come down sooner rather than later and that will be the end of that.

Just write good stuff

As part of a comprehensive SEO strategy, there’s value in writing informative, useful content and distributing it around the web. Properly planned, well-written content can reinforce a prospect’s growing perception of a brand.  Finding your name associated with a good “3 Things you need to know about widgets” or “5 ways to save money with widgets” article can help place your brand in a favorable light while positioning it as a helpful resource.  Funny thing, we often forgo some sensitivity to price when we feel we’ve made a connection with or had our needs understood by a company.

Note:  I’m not an expert in SEO, don’t even play one in a podcast.  But I’ve picked up a few things here and there, and am presumably quite dangerous thanks to a melange of knowledge bouncing around in my cranium.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, then why not:Leave Comment Below | Subscribe To This Blog | Sign Up For Our Newsletter |

About Heather Rast

Heather Rast

Heather is Principal of a boutique Cedar Rapids digital marketing company. She develops brand positioning strategy and marketing communications plans to distinguish small businesses from the competition and attract their ideal customers. Her content planning, writing, and online community-building work helps larger businesses better serve their audiences with useful information that solves problems as it builds affinity for the brand.

Other posts by

Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://socialmediatraininginc.com linkedwithryan

    Great article! Many things to sit and dwell on, there were a few things I was doing without even realizing. Good to know it is a proper tactic in the “In the land of small budgets and good web writers” section.

    • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

      Thanks, Ryan. I could have gone deeper into a couple of points in that section: 1) volume plays a role in success with article marketing. Different people are attracted to different article slants, topics, writing styles. Produce as much as you can without sacrificing overall quality. 2) those well-written articles with the linked keywords have to lead the reader to the payoff. Remember the “scent trail” concept and make the transition from article to on-site page content seamless; draw them deeper onto the path you want them to take.

  • http://twitter.com/Corpblogwriter Erika

    Being a long-time PR person, it makes sense that these kinds of links are so valuable. It's a 3rd party endorsement thing – and when your content is helpful to your target, as you say, it makes those placements even more powerful. It's also GREAT to see stats behind this kind of thing!

    • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

      I'm glad the post was useful for you, Erika. I've found that it's also beneficial to do a good job completing the author profile/bio area. If you have good people on your team knowledgeable about a certain topic or product, write the bio as though that person were the writer. If you write across multiple subjects/industries/categories, be sure to have a separate bio for each. As the “ghostwriter” you'll write editorially sound, fact-based content. Be sure the bio reflects the authority that readers need. To clarify – those stats do indeed fluctuate weekly – sometimes the time on site remains strong, but the number of page views decreases. Or the overall traffic lessens. The key is to watch for an overall positive trend and try to understand it in context with other site traffic. There could be a lot to learn about how best to satisfy the needs of a whole different user group.

  • http://www.DonnyGamble.com Donny Gamble

    Article marketing is a forgotten marketing strategy to help bring additional targeted visitors to your website. If done right, it can be a very powerful source of new leads to your business.

  • http://vemmainternetbiz.com Derick

    Great and good article!! It is very useful for those want to start using the article marketing to drive the traffic.. Good Sharng

    • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

      Sharing and distributing specialized content through articles is indeed a fab way to drive traffic and visibility for your brand. The second part of the equation, following up the lead with solid on-page value, is equally important if you're trying to influence a buying decision.

  • http://www.brosix.com/ Brosix

    great article. I really like your clever intro. :)

    • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

      Thanks. We aim to please. :-)

  • http://www.soppnox.com/social-media-optimization.html Social Media Optimization

    That's words are very true… Because the Content Is King….. “a constantarticle-marketing-analyticsstream of fresh, well written, and helpful content can really boost site traffic”
    Thanks for sharing this nice Article…..

  • Pingback: Articole de Marketing 7

  • Pingback: Making Sense of Social Media & Its Place In Your Practice.

  • Pingback: Social Media And Its Place In Dental Marketing

  • http://seo1sem2services3.blogspot.com/ seo sem services

    Lovely post i like it.

  • http://www.mxicoders.com/ PHP Development Company

    Articles are the best way to get quality traffic on your website. By writing unique fresh articles help you to drive people on your site.