What is Article Marketing?

A subset of content marketing, article marketing is a type of marketing strategy that typically relies on publishing favorable or reputation-enhancing articles (or article snippets) about an organization, person, product, brand or event — on third-party websites.

Article marketing campaigns are often launched with the following objectives:

  • Gain wider recognition for the target organization, author, product, brand or event
  • Develop the image or thought-leadership reputation of the target author or organization
  • Gain search engine optimization (SEO) links and higher search engine rankings for the target’s website
  • Generate direct or indirect traffic for the target’s website

Traditional article marketing has been around since the the emergence of the first newspapers. The internet, however, has greatly expanded the reach of article marketing.

Foundation of effective article marketing

As an online marketing strategy, article marketing has lost favor among many digital marketers because of Google’s crackdown on many article marketing channels that have been abused by SEO spammers.

Nevertheless, content and article marketing can still be powerful marketing strategies when done correctly and properly. From an online marketing perspective, effective article marketing requires very high-quality articles.

What exactly constitutes “high quality”? The answer can actually be summarized in one word: expertise.

High-quality content is written from the perspective of a subject matter expert. If the author writing the article marketing piece is not an expert on the subject or doesn’t consult experts on the subject matter, then that article marketing campaign will probably fail.

Publishing on external sites

The basic requirement for typical article marketing campaigns is to publish articles or linked snippets on third-party sites, and not on the organization’s or author’s own website. Many article marketers may also publish the same article on their own website. However, by publishing on third-party websites, the article gains visibility from visitors to those websites.

Article marketers have typically relied on the following methods and channels to arrange publication of their articles on third-party sites (in order of effectiveness):

  • Online journals and publications. The most effective method of article marketing is by having by-lined articles published on the websites of respected publications. These online publications range from popular news media (such as NYTimes.com or CNN.com) to industry-specific publications. These publications usually only publish articles from external writers because of the merit of the article or the reputation of the author.
  • Article promotion. As Google penalties have increased for many article marketing channels, article and content marketing have returned to trusted basics of article marketing. Instead of trying to publish the entire article on third-party websites, the article is published on the organization’s or author’s website. This article is then promoted through various (Google-accepted) article promotion methods, such as social media, email alerts, bookmarking, respected article directories and reputable press release networks.
  • Document sharing sites. Just as YouTube and Vimeo allow users to share their videos with internet surfers, document sharing sites like DocStoc, SlideShare and Scribd allow authors to share their articles with the internet world. The links from these sites no longer carry as much weight for SEO purposes, but they are still useful for gaining more exposure for the author or organization.
  • Guest blogging. Many blogs feature posts from guest bloggers. Many respected blogs accept “guest posts” from authors that are experts in a particular subject matter. Unfortunately, it’s also true that many blogs publish these guest posts in exchange for compensation from the author or author’s organization. Because of the growth of this type of SEO abuse, Google has devalued the links established by many of these guest posts.
  • Article farms and ezines. During the high-point of the article marketing craze, many ezines (online magazines) and article submission sites emerged to solicit submissions from article marketers. Many online marketers submitted content to these sites in order to receive SEO links on these third-party sites that pointed back to the marketer’s own website. Google’s crackdown on this type of SEO link-building has led to a decrease in search visibility for most of these article farms — and Google penalties for the author’s website.

The right way to do article marketing

When done right, article marketing can be very effective. Here’s how to do it the right way:

  1. Build your author reputation. The best place to start is by having the author write high-quality content and publish them on the organization’s or author’s website. Make sure that those articles are properly meta-tagged with the author’s identity and linked to the author’s social media profiles (especially on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn).
  2. Identify target publications. It’s not enough to be published on other websites. Successful article marketing requires having content published on the right websites, particularly those that are relevant to the content. Consider the different industry publications for your area and research the type of outside content they will publish. And it will be easier to convince publications to publish an article if the author’s reputation is clearly visible through other content on the web.
  3. Identify worthwhile topics and ideas. With a clear understanding of the market and the target publications, develop a list of relevant ideas that resonate with the organization’s or author’s target audience. Many public relations (PR) professionals then run these topics and article ideas past editors at the target publications to determine which have the best chances of being published.
  4. Write high-quality articles. As mentioned above, high-quality “expert” content is required for effective article marketing. If an organization’s subject matter expert (SME) is not a very good writer, then that expert should be paired with an experienced ghost writer to produce high-quality content for article marketing.
  5. Polish the details. In addition to making sure the article is properly spell-checked and edited, spend some time on developing a catchy headline.
  6. Publish the article. The completed article should then be submitted to the target publications for acceptance and posting their website. When possible, post a snippet or copy of the published article on the author’s or organization’s own website.
  7. Promote. Use permissible channels to promote the article and help gain more exposure. At the very least, this typically involves posting to social media channels. But it can also include emailing an invitation to the house list or even advertising the content to target web users.

It’s important to note that the author’s reputation is projected to play an ever-increasing role in determining how well web pages (especially of articles) will rank on related search engine queries on Google. In other words, authors with strong online reputation for writing high-quality content about a specific subject matter will see their articles rank higher on Google.

And just as high-quality content can help an author’s reputation, poor-quality (fluff) content can hurt that author’s reputation.


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