To spare you the trial and error, here are 5 tips on how to get the most out of your article marketing efforts:
As you likely know, headlines are crucial in almost any written communication, whether it be a sales letter, blog post or article. When blogging, your perfect headline is extremely compelling and keyword rich, but if you have to choose between the two, go with what’s compelling to people first. A blog post that gets read and linked to is more valuable than a post with a keyword-packed title that gets ignored.
When submitting articles to directories for syndication, headlines are still crucial, but you’re now writing for a slightly different audience. You’re still writing for people, but now you’re writing for publishers first. And the prevailing attitude among the people most likely to republish your content is that key words matter most.
So your focus with articles is just the opposite of your blog posts. Write the most compelling headline you can, but it absolutely must include attractive key words. Don’t feel like you need to aim for the most popular keyword combinations related to the subject matter; there’s simply too much competition. Think Long Tail instead.
Do keyword research and find good niche combinations. This is what publishers are looking for, and keeping publishers happy will make your article marketing efforts more fruitful.
2. Resource Box
Never, ever, lose site of the fact that the links back to your site are the entire reason you are submitting an article for syndication. A great article with a bad resource box is a waste of your time and talent.
Various article directories have differing criteria for how much information can be placed in your resource box, or “byline.” There are also specific rules regarding how many back links can be present, and how they can be formatted. Carefully review the rules, and maximize every link opportunity that is allowed.
If the directory allows three links, include three links. For best search engine results you should include at least one link back to your site using anchor text for relevant keywords. For example, I might link back to my site with the anchor text web copywriting.
It’s smart to vary the anchor text you use slightly every once and a while, and you may even link occasionally with “click here” or other more natural phrases. Simply repeating your desired keywords in your anchor text time after time will likely work against you with search engines.
Leave at least one link in the full http://www.yoursite.com format. Why? Inexperienced bloggers or publishers may accidentally fail to properly format your anchor text link, leaving you link-less. Plus, email editors who publish in plain text cannot support anchor text links, so you want to make sure you always preserve a fool-proof link. No link, no value.
Also, when formatting the http://www.yoursite.com link, never put a period at the end of a URL. In some instances that can cause the link to break. I simply try to never put the URL at the end of a sentence.
3. Shorter Articles, More of Them
Conventional blogging wisdom says that shorter posts are better, and with “link and opinion” type posts, that’s true. But there’s a growing movement among resource-oriented blogs toward longer, more instructive posts.
With articles, it’s essential that your articles stay short. There are two good reasons for this.
One, never forget the resource box. Your goal is for the reader to see who you are and visit your site. While you need to provide some compelling value in your article, it is simply a means to an end. Otherwise, your content is providing more value to the directory (and their AdSense ads) than to yourself.
Two, the key to successful article marketing is volume. If you naturally write long articles, go ahead and write them that way. Then split the resulting article into two or more article of 250 to 500 words.
The vast majority of authors who submit articles to the directories send in less than 10, then quit because the results are not overwhelming. You simply cannot get results with that few articles. I’ve been able to get great results in the search engines with as little as 20 articles, but the more you submit, the better your results. Volume is the simple secret behind successful article marketing, but most people simply do not make it over the hump.
Here’s a hint that will help you come up with ideas. Surf around an article directory in the categories that are relevant to your topic. See what others are writing about. Now, put your own spin on some of those articles. You can always find a new angle. Remember, there’s nothing truly new under the sun, but there’s a million ways to tell a story.
4. No Duplicate Content
If you’re blogging, it’s very tempting to simply submit your posts to the directories. I stay away from this. I think it’s debatable that the search engines will penalize you for having content on your site that is also published elsewhere, but there is definitely some risk.
From a practical standpoint, simply having what you blog republished can hurt you with people who click through from your resource box. When I read a good directory article, and then click though to the blog only to see the exact same content, I leave. Fair or not, I’m not feeling the value of spending more time there.
Anecdotally, I’ve simply had the best results when there is no duplication of content. Often I will promote a free resource, such as a tutorial or other content that is delivered by email. The articles drive traffic to the resource and help it rank in the search engines, and I get a chance to start a recurring relationship with that visitor. The syndicated article was the first unique step in creating that relationship.
5. Copywriting Matters
Your article cannot simply be an advertisement or pitch for whatever you are selling. In fact, even your resource box should not be pitching the sale. An article is a gateway that allows you the opportunity to begin a dialogue with a potential prospect.
Publishing lots of articles that link back to your target site or blog will help you in the search engines. However, to really get the most out of article marketing, you need to convert article readers into direct traffic.
To do that, you need a compelling headline, and a blockbuster opening paragraph. From there, your article should lead the reader step-by-step, sentence-by-sentence, to your resource box, where the call to action is such that the reader clicks through onto your turf. Learning basic and advanced copywriting techniques will improve your overall marketing effectiveness by leaps and bounds.