Article Marketing Vs. Guest Blogging: Tips and Tactics

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…

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26 Responses to “Article Marketing Vs. Guest Blogging: Tips and Tactics”

  1. Clearly article marketing is the best way to gain relevant back links. Additionally these back links are gained slowly, not explosively; a characteristic search engines look for. In a very short period of time, your site becomes an authority site, and organic listings develop. It is vital to include appropriate anchor text, and links in the author resource box.

  2. Clearly the comment above is thinly veiled comment spam. Please, refrain from such comments in the future.

    I’m leaving this comment up because it’s a perfect example of what you’ll here from SEOs on forums and such that want to sell you their useless services, links from their directories and other products. The spiel usually goes like “xyz is the best way to abc.”

    My opinion is article marketing can be effective if you do it smart, and don’t rely on article directory submission to get you there.

    Take the time to seek out target-sites you want to connect with, and read tomorrow’s post on how to network effectively with webmasters and bloggers.

    Thanks, all!

  3. Hi Linda,

    First of all, this is not a spam comment. Although someone who will click on my name will take him to my older post, this is just to prove that my succeeding comments are based on real facts.

    Anyway, I made a similar post early last year and I realized yours is far away better. I made 4 comparison between the two and mentioned some effects on a blog.

    I also submitted some of articles on top articles directories like Ezine and GoArticles (unfortunately, my account at Ezine was deleted) and did some guest posting but that was more than half a year ago.

    In my experience, article directory submission is good for link building while guest posting is for traffic generation but for a short peak only.

    In the end, both are valuable techniques as long as use them appropriately.

    Thanks, and I have subscribed to your blog so I won’t miss another interesting post like this one.

  4. Article marketing has become a classic example of a legitimate SEO and Internet marketing tactic being bastardised to the point that it becomes spam…

    Add in an all-too-common misunderstanding of the importance of taking care with content. And magnify it to the nth degree to produce a quantity not quality approach. An approach manifest in small business owners trying to get content dirt cheap and flooding article syndication sites and the blogosphere with content that barely makes any sense.

    Witness the Guru.com project I saw today offering the princely sum of $1 for 450 word articles… Witness any number of projects on similar sites specifying a required keyword density and offering similarly [irony]excessive reward[/irony] … Witness recent buzz about Google attaching less value to link text… Witness, as Linda says, limited/neglible link popularity value in article directory links…

    I would say one needs to be very careful to adopt a quality not quantity approach with any creation and sharing of informational content.

    Demonstrate expertise and build brand profile on carefully selected sites relevant to your product offering/respected by your target market? Yes.

    Try to build links by hoping people will use articles you put little effort into that don’t offer any value? No.

  5. Great post, Linda!

    Article marketing via article distribution (AD) sites has never been about getting links from the AD sites themselves, IMO. What makes it appealing – still today – is that it launches a never-ending cycle of back links. It’s the sites that pick up the article *after* the AD site posts it that I find helpful. They have chosen the article because it is relevant to their readers. Whether the article is reprinted on a blog, in a newsletter or on a traditional web page, it helps to spread the word and drive traffic.

    As for duplicate content, there are a few simple steps that can alert Google and other engines that you are the original content creator. Posting the article on your own site before distribution is one.

    Obviously, as with most things, there is never only one way to accomplish a goal. Diversification is usually best.

  6. twift1 says:

    Ya both are supposed to be the best organic methods but still i am not reaching at the right way to employ this, please keep focusing on such issues further.

  7. Tim says:

    I’m currently developing a website called guestposthub.com where people with similar interests can get together and share ideas/content/blog posts, etc.

    Any suggestions on how to market it, or make it user-friendly would be appreciated…i really feel like there’s a need for a resource of this nature.

    Thanks for the great post!

    - tim211 at gmail dot com

  8. @Tim
    Yeah I agree that your Guest Post Hub will have an audience, the key is getting your community off the ground – I’d look for some core users to get on board (participate in blogger forums and events) and reach out to bloggers that use guest posts or asking for guest post opportunities, you might want to get creative with your Google searches :)

    No easy answers or shortcuts here.

  9. @Tim

    And use stumbleupon – tag your site with blogging labels…

  10. [...] Get Elastic discusses Article Marketing vs. Guest Blogging. [...]

  11. redonads says:

    Thanks Linda for your post on article marketing. It’s very informative and gave me a sense of belief that we can utilize one more aspect of our blog with reprinting out posts on our blog with some relevant article syndicating sites. I a newbie in this field but I will try to incorporate your tips for our website.

  12. Very helpful discussion. Thanks.

  13. a good source of information, however i’m interested in the statement about article marketing:

    “Links from article directories are given such little weight by search engines, if any”

    I am inclined to believe you, as I have experienced little movement from article submissions/directory work, but have you got any concrete evidence of this? (i.e case study)

  14. @jonathan

    Matt Cutts heads up Google’s web spam team and I recall him saying that article directories and press release links don’t pass much value, if any. The reasoning is obvious – any link you can get by a simple article submission that accepts nearly everyone is not an “editorial” link that indicates value to your site :)

  15. Hi Linda

    Thanks for the reply – do you happen to be able to find that information from matt cutts’ blog? I’ve had a look and cant find it :( If you do could you post a link up here or e-mail it to me?

  16. I agree with Hamish on this one. The search engine is created to bring users QUALITY content. The problem is businesses see everything is numbers. They figure if A + B brings us C, and we want more C, we need more A + B. Then greed kicks in. If it’s not greed it’s desperation. So it becomes, let’s get as much A + B as fast as we can, so that we can have plenty of C. In this case A= Articles. B= Backlinks, and C = Cash. So here why find ourselves with an flood of webmasters producing content like it’s the San Fransisco Gold rush. Ironically, just like the San Fran gold rush, soon webmasters will find there is no Gold. In my opinion, which is not fact, it’s best to write unique articles, and submit them to one or two major directories. I use Ezinearticles .com exclusively.

  17. Thanks for sharing these info with us!
    I will keep in touch with your blogreading..
    Stumbled your URL…
    have a great day

  18. A person or website should consider various things when running an effective PPC campaign. It is important to develop a proper marketing plan to get the best ROI from PPC marketing. Selecting the most appropriate keywords that relate to the site ’s business is an essential part. However, only choosing the most popular keywords does not necessarily translate into profit. Selecting more specific keywords or we can say “long tail keywords” will help you get much better profits.

  19. My comment would be that Article Marketing remains one of the best ways to draw your target market to your website and convince them that you are the best answer to their needs. Yes – even now with all of the concerns about duplicate content. We continue to see great results and so can you.

  20. The BODY of your article is where you “GIVE” and the RESOURCE BOX is where you get to “TAKE” for your article marketing gift of information. The resource box is the “currency of payment” you receive for giving away your article. Be sure to include your name, website address, your unique selling proposition as briefly as possible and a simple call to action.

  21. Excellent post

    I use articles widely both as content and also as a method of gaining backlinks to me sites. I agree with the comment that articles are close to spam nowadays and am moving towards video as an alternative

  22. Prior to even checking into your articles, prospects must firstly receive a reason to pay attention to what you have to say. And this makes titles such a vital ingredient in article promotion.

  23. SEO Dave says:

    This is a great post thank you, but things are changing rapidly. I definitely agree that video must now be given very serious attention, although I think a good spread of link sources is essential – forums, blogs, articles, social media & networking sites. With the recent Google update though, I don’t know how that is going to effect article submission.

  24. Brian says:

    Guest Blogging is far more important than article marketing

    • I am 100% agree with you. Guest blogging is hard to get it done. Article marketing is easy to get editorial links. That’s why It is widely used. What you think?

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