Do you publish articles online to increase your link profile, your website traffic, and your online presence in general? If so, I have some hard-earned lessons you’ll find helpful.
First, I have to get something out of the way. Now I don’t say this to brag or boast — I say it because it’s entirely relevant to this article. As of this writing, I’ve published hundreds of articles through several article directories.
These articles have generated thousands of backlinks to my various websites. Combined, they’ve earned over 93,000 page views. And they’ve landed on websites ranging from Lycos to the National Associate of Realtors.
Why do I tell you all this? Because along the way, I’ve learned some article marketing lessons you might find helpful.
Lesson #1 – Put Quality Before Quantity
Poorly written articles don’t make it very far online. If you start pumping articles through the article directories without giving them the attention they deserve, you’ll be in for some disappointing results. You won’t get very many page views, you won’t get much exposure, and you won’t generate many backlinks to your website or blog.
On the other hand, if you take the time to craft an article that’s helpful, well-written, interesting and engaging, it will travel far online. Here’s an example:
I was checking my backlinks one day, and I found that one of my articles had been published on a top-level directory of Lycos.com (with a direct link to my website). If I had asked Lycos to link to my site, they probably would’ve ignored me. But because they enjoyed my article, they published it and linked to me without me having to ask them.
Lesson #2 – Create an Interesting Title
Comparing the stats on more than 100 articles can reveal a lot. You can scan through the page views and see which articles get the most readership. After a while, patterns emerge. My most successful article titles have had the following things in common:
- They were written to pique the reader’s curiosity
- They were specific, often using numbers (like this article)
- They identified the audience in some way
- They often used “how to” statements
- They promised value and benefit
- They were written with passion, professionalism and personality!
Lesson #3 – Avoid Sensationalism in Your Titles
As an experiment, I once wrote two articles about the mortgage loan process. The articles were similar in content. Both offered helpful information in step-by-step format. Both were factual and accurate. And in my opinion, both were well-written.
But the titles were different. One title was straightforward and specific: “Mortgage Loans 101 – How to Prepare for Closing Costs.” The other title was a little more over the top: “Your Credit Report – The Most Helpful Article You’ll Ever Read.”
The straightforward “How to” title generated five times as many page views as the sensationalistic title. As a result, it got published a lot more. Straightforward, specific titles that promise to help the reader perform better than grandiose titles.
Lesson #4 – Organize Your Article Well
This lesson comes from being a publisher as well as a writer. I’ve built several content websites, and in the process I’ve screened thousands of articles, looking for quality work to publish.
Once I find an article that matches my topical needs, I look at the article’s organization. Is it laid out in a logical way, or is it all over the place? I know from experience that if the ideas within an article are well-organized, the writer’s mind is well-organized as well. So an organized article usually indicates a quality article.
Lesson #5 – Outline Before You Write
Creating an outline will help immensely as you sit down to write the first draft of your article. Your outline doesn’t have to be complex. Forget about those Roman numerals from English Composition 101. All you really need to do is plan how you want to begin, what points you want to cover, and how you want to end the article.
When writing, there’s a tendency to wander off track. An outline will help you stay on task. Remember, publishers will be more inclined to republish your article if it’s well-written, and organization is a big part of “well-written.”
Lesson #6 – Write for the Web
Your articles will travel farther if they’re formatted for easy online reading. This means offering an advanced summary or introduction, using plenty of headers and bullet points, and keeping paragraphs reasonably short (3 – 7 lines).
As a publisher, I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve passed up because they contained huge, dense blocks of text with few paragraph breaks.
Lesson #7 – You Have to Give to Get
Some people say you should hold back in your articles, that you don’t want to give away too much “meat” for free. “Just touch on the topic,” these people will tell you, “and then direct readers to a website where they can get the real nuts-and-bolts.”
Forget that notion. Articles without substance have no business being published online. They certainly won’t make it very far. If you’re concerned about “giving away the farm,” then take one piece of your topic and cover it completely. Then point the reader to your website where they can learn more (or download your e-book, or sign up for your newsletter, etc.).