To follow up on yesterday’s post about online PR, today we discuss article marketing / guest blogging as a branding, public relations and link building / SEO tactic.
Continuing with our “current hot topic” of toy recalls and product safety, let’s look at various ways of getting your story out there, above and beyond the newswire.
Article Marketing vs. Guest Blogging
Article marketing refers to writing informative articles and syndicating them on other websites, including blogs and email newsletters. Typically a back link to your site is included in an author byline. Often Internet marketers will submit content to article directories (there are hundreds, but a few popular ones like iSnare) in hopes that web publishers will find and use their articles. In exchange for reprinting the article, the publisher should link back to the author’s URL (but some publishers just scrape the content without linking back.)
Links from article directories are given such little weight by search engines, if any. The value of links from websites that syndicate the content depends on their quality and authority. Article marketing was popular a few years ago, but I question how valuable article directory submission is today.
A more modern version of article marketing would be syndicating your blog feed through RSS directories
that various portals and news sites, for example, grab stories. You submit your blog feed (XML or Atom) to the directory and if you’re approved, publishers may access and reprint your content.
Guest blogging means writing a unique article specifically for a blog that will host your article. This has several advantages over old-fashioned article syndication:
- You know which site your article will appear so it can be better tailored to the audience and topic.
- When the article is unique, it’s better for SEO. The blogger is more likely to accept your unique article than reprint something that already exists on other sites and article directories.
- You can establish a relationship with the blogger. Article directories are more anonymous, you likely never have personal contact with the publisher.
- You can identify blogs that are popular, whereas with article directories, it’s a “spray and pray” operation.
The disadvantage is that writing unique articles for each publisher takes way more time, plus the time it takes to scope out bloggers and connect with them. But the additional effort is well worth it!
Which should you choose?
You can use a little of both.
Promoting Article Reprints
If you are writing informational articles on your ecommerce site or retail blog, go ahead and syndicate reprints. Even with duplicate content, the back links coming to your domain help Google identify you as the source of the content. It also helps if your site’s copy is the first to get indexed by search engines (yes, they keep track of URL age and every version).
The reprints just expose your expertise to a wider audience – good for branding and you can get a few solid back links that will help the SEO of your whole domain, and maybe even some qualified traffic. Submit to only a few, high traffic article directories (type “article directory” into Google, take the top 3, for example).
If you’re blogging, look into the RSS feed directories list we posted last year (keep in mind some of the directories may not exist any more). It doesn’t take very long and you only have to do it once. Doesn’t hurt.
Another tactic is to find websites that are soliciting content. One way to find these sites is to type in to a search engine “relevant keyword” + “submit article” or “add article” or “suggest article.”
For example, “parenting” + “submit article” produces these results:
Notice some sites have your keyword in the domain – that indicates better relevance for both readers and search engines. In fact, the other results in this screen shot are just article directories with a parenting category.
You have to go and check these sites out one by one, and use your judgment whether it’s worth your time to submit to them or not. Some sites are so full of ads and have 0 Google Toolbar Page Rank, which is a sign they’re not going to help you. (Google Page Rank is a 1-10 scale of how authoritative Google judges a web page to be. The Google Toolbar, if installed, shows a little graph of Page Rank which updates every 3 months or so – so very new URLs won’t show any Page Rank until the next update even if they actually have it. That’s as far as I will explain it here.)
Yes, this takes a lot of research time. Not for the faint of heart or short of time. You might want to use a meta search engine like Myriad Search to show you results from Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask at once.
Another technique is to search out niche social networks that allow you to publish your own blogs or advice, for example, parenting communities like Minti or Mothersclick. I love the “Social Networking God” list on Mashable, with over 350 social networks categorized. There are many sites under the “Family” category that would be relevant to toy safety articles. Explore this list for your own link building and social media marketing campaigns.
Please note that some networks add nofollow attributes to outgoing links (tells search engines not to credit the link or follow it to index the page linked to), but you still get the branding and potential traffic benefit of participating in the community.
Researching Bloggers for Guest Posts
You can approach any blogger and offer to guest blog for them (the pitch), but I suggest you find bloggers that already accept guest posts to start with (you’ll have a higher acceptance rate, and can get a nice little portfolio of guest blogs to reference when you pitch the big boys/girls).
In this case, I would perform several searches in my research phase:
“parenting blog” + “guest post”
“parenting blog” + “guest author”
“parenting blog” + “guest writer”
“parenting blog” + “guest blogger”
When you find bloggers you want to reach out to, copy and paste their contact information into a spreadsheet so you can keep tabs on who you’ve contacted, and who’s accepted your offer.
Tomorrow I’ll share tips for pitching bloggers, as there are right and wrong approaches to this…