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The Misunderstood Marketing Method

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How do you hide a tree? Put it in a forest.

This is what many authors have effectively done when they suggest that you should use articles to promote your website. The technique that these authors suggest can be summarized as follows: write something you know about, add your resource box, submit your article to tens of thousands of free reprint directories and distribution groups, and wait for publishers to pick up your article.

But this is entirely the wrong method.

If you were to follow the advice of these authors you may see some traffic, receive a few inbound links, and gain some publicity for your website, but how does this make writing articles different from any other basic promotion technique? Rather than writing an article to bring in this traffic, why not just participate in forums, submit to niche directories, or pay for quality traffic? Articles can do so much more.

Why The Current Thought is Bad

Ask yourself this question: what are publishers looking for? If you said content, you are wrong. Publishers (or at least publications worth reading) are not looking for just content – they are looking for original content. They do not want an article that is going to show up on 500 other websites, including free reprint directories. They want an article that people will link to, that only they offer. It is their unique content that will allow them to separate themselves from their competition.

But don't publishers use free reprint articles? Some do, many do not. Those that do tend to be extremely selective with free reprint articles, often using them more as filler content rather than featured material which is aimed at getting high readership. The fact is, most worthwhile publications that use free reprint articles are either moving away from these articles, or have eliminated them altogether.

So what does that mean for that article you wrote and submitted to 50,000 publishers (as promised by the article submission tool that you used)? It means that it did just that – it was submitted to 50,000 publishers. You do not know who it was submitted to, whether they are a respected website, whether they actually have any reasonable amount of traffic, or even if they will publish your article without your permission. You have no control over what happens to your article.

An Example of What Can Happen

What is so unfortunate about what article promotion has been reduced to is that many website owners do not realize just how much traffic they could receive from just one article. A single, well-written, well-thought out article, has the ability to drive literally hundreds of thousands of visitors within a very short amount of time.

The Surprising Truth About Ugly Websites, an article recently published on, single-handedly brought in over 200,000 unique visitors – in less than 24 hours. Initially it was featured on Slashdot, and subsequently it was featured in hundreds of blogs and forums, and thousands of new websites added a link to the article.

Well-written articles that are properly promoted have the ability to bring fresh traffic, many times in astounding numbers.

Writing Articles That Actually Succeed

The idea of submitting an article to as many publishers as possible is obviously contrary to what a publisher is looking for. At the same time, though, it is also contrary to what you should be looking for. The secret to writing successful articles starts with a simple concept: you want to control who publishes your article, and you want to help promote that article. If an editor chooses to publish an article and sees that it was well-received (and brought in a lot of new traffic), they will be more inclined to publish future articles from you.

So instead of signing up for the latest article distribution program that promises to blast your article to a gazillion publishers that you may not even want publishing your article, choose one or two initial publications that you would like to be featured in, then work on developing a relationship with them.

Starting that relationship can often be the most difficult part. Often times, though, simply sending an email to the editor informing them that you would like to write an article exclusively for them on “___fill in the blank___” subject is enough to get their attention. If you happen to send them an email, they may give you some guidelines on what they look for in an article. Or, they may tell you that they simply would not be interested in an article on that particular topic (if that were to happen, you could ask what they would be interested in).

Spend time writing your article – do not expect to finish it in one day, and certainly do not expect to finish it in a few hours. A quality article takes time to write, takes thought to organize, and may require research on your part as well. Remember that publishers are looking for unique, well-written, well thought out, and insightful articles. Ultimately, publishers are looking for the same content that their readers are looking for – your job is to simply create that content.

Promote Your Articles

Articles that are published on well-respected websites tend to be viral in nature. Once you get your article published (and you may be surprised at how easy it is to get your article published), you will find that your article will show up in various forums, blogs, and other websites. This is good – in fact, this is very good and is the very goal that you should be aiming for. You want to encourage this viral behavior, help it grow, and even give it a shot in the arm when necessary.

To find whether your article is being discussed elsewhere on the web, you can do a search in Google for your article title in quotes (as shown below):

The Misunderstood Marketing Method

If you see that your article is being discussed in forums, join the forum and join the discussion. Having your input will encourage more conversation, which will in turn encourage more people to participate in the conversation. Take advantage of the buzz and use it to create more buzz. For example, if you find that a blog owner read your article, disagreed with it, and took the time to create a post disagreeing with your article, send them an email asking if you can respond through their blog.

Find websites that feature important stories. The technology field has websites such as Slashdot and Digg – find out if your industry has any equivalent websites that feature important or interesting stories and submit the location of the published article to them.

Ultimately, you should promote your articles as if they were your actual website. Not only will this draw attention to the article (which is a showcase of your website's credibility), but it will also demonstrate to the editor that your articles are worth publishing and make it easier for you to be published in the future.

Ultimately It Is An Ad

An article is ultimately an advertisement for your business, even though you may not mention your business anywhere in your article (actually, as a general rule you should not). The article demonstrates your knowledge, draws attention to your business, and creates valuable exposure to your website.

A properly written, distributed, and promoted article can be far more effective than any other form of marketing, and far more cost effective.

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