Early in my career, I wrote about article marketing as a marketing strategy for small businesses. It took only a few hours because I knew the subject intimately. I offered the article to a top business website that reached tens of thousands of readers, and within a few weeks the article appeared online.
The results were incredible.
Almost immediately, I landed a new client, was invited to submit two proposals, and added dozens of names to my mailing list. I reprinted the article as a newsletter, made copies for my marketing kit, and revised and posted the article on related websites. As prospects read my article on the Internet, and recommended it to associates, several hired my firm.
Over the years, I’ve published many articles to grow my online presence. This has been a central marketing strategy for attracting leads, boosting my search engine optimization and generating hundreds of links to my website.
In one instance, a reader who later became a client requested a proposal, even though her company had almost finalized a decision to hire a competitor. “We came across your article, and it made all the difference,” she said. “We knew from your article that you could help us.”
A Short History of Article Marketing
Marketers have long published articles drawn from their expertise as a marketing strategy to reach prospects and position themselves as industry thought leaders. For decades, print media provided the only article marketing option. It took work, but getting published in leading trade media bestowed a lot of credibility. Moreover, articles in prominent magazines could make your phone ring because they bestowed more credibility than advertising.
As the Internet grew, marketers embraced online article marketing. Unlike print article publishing (usually a one-at-a-time proposition), Internet article marketers blasted articles far and wide, often through article directories like ezinearticles.com. Instead of doing the hard work of calling and pitching magazine editors and delivering a (usually exclusive) article to a single publication, online marketers submitted articles to hundreds of websites in the hopes of gaining links and boosting search traffic.
And, for awhile, it worked. The quantity over quantity approach to article marketing could gain sometimes hundreds of links and boost Google rankings.
Fast forward to today. Years of online article marketing transformed turned the web into a virtual dumping ground of self-promotional articles masquerading as editorial content. In response, Google’s recent Panda and Penguin updates, intending to improve the search experience, diminished the search engine optimization value of low quality, mass distributed content.
Article marketing now requires more work as en masse article marketing (through article directories) is no longer effective and can actually hurt your search rankings.
And therein lies the opportunity. Instead of aiming to get your articles on as many sites as possible, target your efforts by aiming at leading sites in your industry. Not only will this approach boost your reputation and credibility and reach better prospects, it will impact your search rankings.
Why You Should Publish On Authority Websites
Article marketing has not lost its power. However, your online presence must now center on publishing articles on authority websites within your niche or target market. As a recent article on Search Engine Watch notes, “With Google, link quality and relevance are key, so by being able to attract quality links from authoritative domains in the same niche would be a clear sign that your site or page is relevant.”
Authority websites are established websites or blogs that provide comprehensive information about specific topics. Authority sites attract traffic and return visitors because they operate like online magazines, offering articles, guest columns, reviews and case studies. Search engines reward authority sites with high rankings because they earn a lot of quality backlinks that signal popularity and “authority” on a subject.
Types of authority websites might include:
- Media websites (latimes.com, huffingtonpost.com)
- Industry hubs (consumertraveler.com)
- Trade and professional associations
- Business (chambers of commerce, entrepreneur.com)
- Topic hubs (about.com)
- Government or education websites
- Niche interests (searchenginewatch.com, petmd.com)
- Established blogs with a large readership
Gaining exposure on authority websites and blogs is often the first marketing strategy I employ when working with clients. Many authority websites have an ongoing need for quality content, and they can’t write it all themselves. A well-placed article or guest blog post can often quickly boost my client’s reputation and search engine optimization faster and more effectively than solely trying to grow their own website or blog readership from scratch.
Authority websites generate traffic. Publishing on authority websites can attract a lot of targeted visitors back to your own website or blog. Because authority sites possess a large, loyal following contributing to authority websites can help you attract readers you normally could not easily access on your own.
You’ll earn more credibility. Because what other people say about you is always more credible than what you say about yourself, appearing on authority websites builds your online presence as a recognized expert. Authority websites dramatically boost your reputation because you receive an implied endorsement from the authority website.
Improve your Virtual First Impression(tm). An effective online presence is not just about attracting cold prospects, but impressing warm prospects whom, after hearing about your company, Google your business to check you out. Cultivating quality backlinks from respected websites adds to a positive virtual first impression by showing within search results that other websites value your business.
Quality links = Better Search Rankings. Search engines reward websites with strong importance on a certain subject. Links you earn from authority sites can significantly boost your search engine optimization and page rank, an effect that grows over time as you gain several links from top authority sites in your industry.
Tips for Publishing on Authority Websites
Quality over quantity. Since potential clients and customers often judge you by the company you keep, target websites with both credibility and relevance to your target market. A quality over quantity marketing strategy will give you better results and provide more control over what searchers find about your business in search results.
Authority websites are easy to find because they rank high in search engine results. Look for websites that solicit guest blog posts or accept articles outside experts.
According to an article on Econsultancy, search for relevant terms around your business combined with “guest blog post,” (i.e. “marketing guest blog post”). Also research competitors with a tool like Open Site Explorer to discover important authority websites in your market niche that may be open to publishing your material.
Authority websites almost always require original content and shun duplicate content. This means that you’ll need to write a unique, quality article or blog post for most authority websites that you can’t publish anywhere else.
Building your online presence via authority websites takes work, but the branding and search engine optimization dividends are significant. In fact, it is one of the best and fastest ways to attract prospects, become Slightly Famous and become recognized as an industry thought leader. “The lesson here is to start thinking and acting like a big brand,” says Guillaume Bouchard in a recent Search Engine Watch article. “Your website’s future, no matter how big or small you are, depends on the recognition and trust you build in your niche.”