Article Marketing: Is It Worth the Effort?

Article marketing is the act of writing short, between 500 to a 1000 word, articles and distributing them to other website owners to republish on their site for free. This form of advertisement is not new. In the offline world, business owners would write articles regarding an aspect of their industry and submit them to newspapers for free in exchange for having their business contact information printed with the article.

Internet marketers were quick to port this marketing tactic to the virtual world, spawning an entire industry complete with specialized software and tutorials. Every five minutes, it seems, an article directory is popping up touting the same benefits of submitting your work to them.

1. Exposure

Getting your name in front of interested buyers is the main purpose of article marketing. When your article gets reprinted, it will include your byline, or author’s resource box, which tells a little bit about yourself, your business and where people can contact you.

2. Branding

A brand is a representation of a particular product, service or idea. It can be a name, a symbol, logo, slogan or even a particular design scheme. Article marketing can help promote a business’ brand via the information offered and smart use of the author resource box.

3. Links to your website

It has been previously established that the more links that point to your website, the better a website ranks in the search engines. This, in turn, means more traffic to the site and possibly more sales.

4. Traffic

In addition to the traffic a higher PageRank will bring, you can also get traffic from readers of your articles who click the links in the author resource box.

5. Pre-selling candidates on your products and services

Articles serve as that cold call that sells a prospective buyer on your product, service or expertise before they get to your website which will make them more amendable to buying what you are offering.

6. You will be perceived as an expert in your field

The idea is that the more your name is seen within the scope of discussing a particular subject, the more people will think of you as an expert on said subject.

7. Referrals

Because you are perceived as an expert, other people will refer visitors and potential buyers to your business.

As wonderful as these benefits sound, however, there are some very real drawbacks to article marketing.

1. You have to produce and distribute the articles

You will either have to write and submit the articles or pay to have someone to do it for you. Either way, this is a cost that can not be avoided.

2. Market saturation

There are literally hundreds of article directories with thousands of people submitting to them. In order to give your articles a chance you would have to submit to a lot of them which only adds to the search engine spam which in turn causes the search engines to devalue duplicate content further.

3. The inability to control where your material shows up

Spam sites love article directories and many authors, me included, have found their articles being used in ways and areas they were not intended. Article directories provide open access for anyone to download the articles and use freely on any website.

4. Duplicate content penalties

Search engines are bringing the hammer down on duplicate content and are penalizing not only the websites that host it but the content itself. This means that you may not get as much mileage out of your resource box as you want.

5. Most article directories are marketed to the writers and not the end user, so the odds of your article being used by your intended audience is slim to none.

6. Lost time and revenue

The time it takes to create and submit the articles is time taken away from other things you could be doing, including the creation of revenue generating products.

7. Content theft

There are unscrupulous webmasters out there who will take your articles and post them to their website without the author resource box or even worse alter the content a little bit and claim it as their own.

While article marketing was, at one point, a valuable marketing tool to help promote your website, the return on investment just continues to diminish with each article directory that pops up. Not only that, there are better and more effective ways to market your website.

In the next article in this series, I’m going to talk about some of those other ways to promote yourself and your website. I will also provide a few tips on getting the most from article marketing for those still bent on dropping it into their box o’ marketing tricks.

Until then I would love to hear what you think about article marketing.

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