When it comes to positioning yourself as the obvious expert for a certain business niche, writing articles - a.k.a. Article Marketing - is one of the fastest and easiest ways to become thought of as an authority. In the old days, it was actually much more difficult to become a published author. You had to entice a reporter with an established newspaper or magazine to interview you for an article, or attract the attention of the editor and submit your work as a freelancer.
These days, it can take just minutes to submit an article you've written to article directories, your website or blog, press release services and more. Your content is instantly syndicated in a variety of different formats, you've built back-links to your own website which have the potential to increase its search engine rankings, and you can share little snippets of this story with your audience in a way that flatters your work. For example: "Jane Doe, real estate investor, coach, and expert author."
However, one of the biggest conundrums I've faced in my own forays into article writing and publishing is deciding WHERE to publish my article. If I am going to spend a certain amount of time writing, should I publish my article to an article directory (such as EzineArticles.com), my website, or my blog?
Some of that depends on the particulars of your situation - such as how established your website is and whether you already have an audience following your posts. For example, if your blog or website gets good readership, you may want to focus on posting there 3-5 times per week, and just reserve a bit of time for writing a new "off page" article every week or so in order to develop good back links and try to attract new audience members.
On the other hand, if you have a website that is fairly "complete" or "finished" you may not want to keep adding content to it all the time, as you would a blog. In that case, you can focus the majority of your efforts on writing content on outside websites, blogs, forums and article directories, always with a link back to your site's landing page.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but in any good SEO campaign, you'll want to have at least some component of offline article writing and content distribution to build up the relevance of the pages you're trying to have rank highly in the search engines. Whatever your strategy, there are a few important things to keep in mind as you write your articles.
1) Quality does count. Although it may not seem like it when we hear so much about keyword density and SEO, ultimately, you want your article to be readable and interesting to human visitors. Writing articles is not just about getting "free" backlinks to your website. The search engines are getting smarter every day and the more you can please human visitors to your articles, the more you will ultimately be rewarded by the engines.
2) Quantity counts, too. In our pursuit of quality articles, don't let your concerns about writing a "master work" slow you down from publishing an aggressive amount of content. It's easy to feel that your article will never be perfect. That's fine. Publish it anyway. Both search engines and your readers are VORACIOUS consumers of content. Build your stature by giving them plenty of content to chew on. As they get to know you, they'll be even hungrier for what you have to say. It's still a "publish or perish" world.
3) Provide value before you sell. A lot of us are tempted to put our sales message boldly (or covertly, using "mind tricks") high up in the content of our articles. We think if our reader stops reading, at least they'll know what we have to offer. This is the wrong approach to take. The best way to "sell" your reader as an article writer is by helping him, serving him, and meeting his needs. Even if he knows you have something for sale, he won't be interested if he's not convinced you can provide value. Address his problems first - that will get his attention - and then you can focus on addressing yours.
4) Help people get to know you. People these days are hungry for relationships. We are so busy at work, with events, and frantically trying to keep up on the "information super highway" that we don't have as much time as we'd like for sitting down with friends and family. Instead, we Facebook them. Establish yourself as someone who is real, willing to share and help, and accessible to discuss problems or services with. Step away from the fake posture so many people use on the web. Trust and authenticity is what people want - so be sure to share who you really are, human foibles and all.
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Emily Cressey is a real estate investor, agent and coach who lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and baby boy, Blake. Emily loves going running during rain storms, watching Blake learn to climb up the stairs, and making black bean tostadas.
Emily's goals include being LESS compulsive than Adrian Monk on TV, reading and understanding more of Warren Buffet's annual reports to shareholders, and actually KEEPING her office desk clean...
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