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Article Distribution vs. Guest Blogging: Is There a Difference?

To many people,
the idea of guest blogging is fresh and new and very “Web 2.0.” 
Personally, I find the discussion to be a rather déjà vu-like
experience.  In fact, one participant on my blog responded to a post
about articles by asking how I would contrast guest blogging with
article marketing.  He wanted to know how I chose between placing my
articles on directories and writing an exclusive blog post.  The short
answer is:  I don’t.

Remembering the Good Old Days of Article Marketing

Circa
1990, the first article directories began to pop up online with the
invention of ezines (email magazines).  Many publishers of these
soon-to-be-popular email newsletters quickly got tired of writing all
the content themselves.  Others decided to offer compilations of recent
articles published by others about a particular topic. 

The
article directories provided a wonderful new outlet for gathering
quality content in exchange for a simple bio at the end with a link
back to the author’s site.  Articles were written to provide quality
information to readers in the hope that they would favor the author
with a click.

A few of the many benefits of article marketing were (and still are):

  • Increasing traffic to your website
  • Positioning before a highly targeted audience
  • Branding yourself as an expert
  • SEO
  • Online networking and exposure before new groups of people
  • Free advertising
  • Infinite archiving of your material
  • Almost instant propagation throughout the Internet

With
changes in link popularity, it soon became common knowledge that using
keyword-rich anchor text carried more weight with engines than simple
http: links.  As is typical with so many Internet-based marketing
methods, the article marketing landscape began to be overtaken by
spammers.

A Twisted Sense of Article Marketing

A
push for quantity quickly took over the article marketing arena and
left quality articles in their wake.  The invention of article writing
software that illegally harvests snippets of text from existing online
content and the invention of article blaster software gave speed to
those looking to distribute what are now referred to as “junk
articles.” 

While
this may have caused a decrease in the quality of links coming from
article directories, the other marketing benefits remain to this day. 
Quality articles that get picked up from directories and republished on
website pages, in ezines and on blogs still enjoy the benefits article
marketing has always offered.  

Enter Guest Blogging

The
advent of blogging and other social media outlets gave new
opportunities for professionals to share their expertise with others.
 Companies as well as individuals found many advantages to publishing
blogs including:

  • Increasing traffic to your website
  • Positioning before a highly targeted audience
  • Branding yourself as an expert
  • SEO
  • Online networking and exposure before new groups of people
  • Free advertising
  • Infinite archiving of your material
  • Almost instant propagation throughout the Internet

(Hmm… sounds familiar.  Where have I heard this before?)

When
we look back at blogging after two or three more years, will it have
followed a path similar to article distribution?  Will the evil, greedy
powers that be attempt to stamp out the benefits of guest blogging in
the near future?  It’s very possible.  We’re seeing it to some extent
already.  Trackbacks and ping backs are being manipulated by spammers
as we speak. 

Search Engine Optimization Issues

The
same dark SEO clouds that hang over article marketing can be seen
drifting towards blogs.  Concerns about duplicate content can be voiced
with regard to blog replication as well as articles. Entire blogs are
duplicated on scraper sites every single day within seconds of the
original posts being made public. 

Should you be concerned?  I’m not.  

Truth
is, article marketing is not devoid of search engine benefits as some
claim.  While the link quality of article directories themselves may
have been degraded over time, they only account for one source of
links.  That’s because the article directories were just a jumping off
point.  They should never have been viewed as the final destination of
articles.  The goal has always been to have your article picked up from
directories and reprinted on authority sites or blogs.  That’s where
your linking benefits come in.  

Even
if I get no SEO benefits from article marketing or guest blogging, I’d
still do both on a regular basis.  It’s not an either/or choice for me:
it’s good marketing.  Since long before the Internet was ever thought
of, professionals would strive to gain exposure by having their
articles published in print magazines.  This type of marketing has
proven to be successful for decades, online and off, and it’s still a
valid marketing method today. 

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