Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Useful website lists can attract forum backlinks

If you have a look at some of the big social bookmarking sites one thing really stands out: lists are good linkbait. There are countless blog posts and articles that describe such things as the top ten ways to do brush your hair, or the five best movies in a particular genre.

Similarly, people are often interested in lists of websites that are useful. If you assemble one of these related to a particular category and then post it to your blog or site, then you're almost certain to get some backlinks to it eventually. They may be from social bookmarking sites, but they're more likely to come from online forums.

I just had an illustration of this recently. A list of Australian directories that I've accumulated and published on one of my sites has been linked to from an Australian forum.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Choose a low competition niche for your blog if you can

The mistake that many people make when starting a blog nowadays - particularly if they intend to make money off it - is to write about a saturated niche. Blogs about making money from blogs, or internet marketing in general, are popular choices for the newbie. But there are squillions of those kinds of blogs already. You really are in for a lot of work before you begin to see any reasonable traffic with those subjects. If you are a newbie and want to see benefits fairly soon I would advise choosing a low competition niche if possible.

That doesn't mean that you should not write about the subject of internet marketing, say. It just means that you should find something specific within it to focus on. Maybe just write a blog about article marketing alone - or perhaps one about keyword selection. These are still competitive, but certainly not completely saturated. And being more focused content-wise you will crawl up the rankings quicker.

I've noticed just how competitive the whole internet marketing niche is through writing this blog. I started it quite a while ago now. And I've got a fair amount of content up. The traffic is slowly growing, but it's disappointing considering how much work I've put into it.

I'm not going to give up, since I'm very interested in this niche and am learning a lot. So I'll always have something to write about. But compared to other blogs I've got running, it's moving slowly. I started an arts blog only months ago now, for example. It's already drawing in more traffic than this one!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I blame the internet for my shortening attention span

I've been blogging for several years now, and have finally gotten into social media (Twitter, mainly) in the last several months. In this time I've noticed that my attention spans have shortened. And not just when I'm sitting at the PC.

It also happens when I'm walking along, or having conversations. I just feel this urge to think about something else, look somewhere else, or talk about something else after a few seconds. It's like this little switch going on and off in my head at regular intervals. I don't obey these impulses, however they are definitely there. (And this is not just the normal "ceaseless chatter of the mind". This is something running over the top of that.)

Also, I've noticed that when watching TV I channel surf a lot more than I used to. And I did it quite a bit before the internet came along, too. I think this may be related to the fact that there are so many more channels now. So, to find out what all your options are at any given time, you have to flick through each of them quicker. That said, I do think that the instant gratification offered by search engines has something to do with this as well.

Here are a couple of interesting articles that concur with this assessment.

Thankfully, I have found that if I meditate, my brain does seem to slow down again. That's good to know. (It's also been confirmed by this study.)

I would be interested to read people's views on this subject. Have you discovered a similar effect? If so, what do you do to counter it, if anything?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Opinion articles get fewer bio-box clicks than advice and guides

I've been a member of EzineArticles for a while now, and have quite a range of articles up there. One thing that's really struck me is how the category of the article influences the number of clicks the author bio-box links get.

The articles that have just commentary and opinion get next to no clicks, even when they get a lot of views. Take this article about a media scandal involving supermodel Miranda Kerr. It's been viewed over a thousand times. Yet I have not received even one click from it!

This article about getting paid for writing letters to magazines has only been viewed 175 times, yet I've had 6 clicks from it. That works out to a click-through rate of about 3.5%. Some of my other similar articles have had even less traffic but higher click-through rates.

Clearly, the "how to" guides, and those articles that include lists of tips and techniques about a certain subject get the best results. The reader senses that you can help them somehow, so they are more likely to check out your site to see what other useful insights you're offering.

Blogging about specific companies can bring traffic

I just had another confirmation of why it's worth blogging about specific websites and companies. Last night I wrote a post about ArticlesBase. It turns out that it was mentioned in that directory's Twitter feed, so I've had a nice little burst of hits from it.

I had a similar experience a while ago when I blogged about the website builder Doomby. The post was subsequently stumbled.

Clearly, employees of online companies keep an eye on what's said about them in the blogosphere. If there's something that reflects well on them, there's a good chance they will quote you. (Obviously if you write positive stuff it's more likely to help in this way. But you shouldn't just gush about things in the hope it will. Needless to say being honest and thoughtful in your opinions is always the best policy.)

ArticlesBase can help with SEO, even though it's nofollow

ArticlesBase is a really excellent directory. It gets huge traffic. And the statistics it gives you are awesome, so you get a really good idea about how people are finding your articles. But it cops a bit of flack because it makes the author bio-box links nofollow.

I had read that if bloggers and webmasters use the articles, however, the links then become dofollow. I never looked into this though.

But I just did a backlink check for a site I've been promoting and discovered that one of my articles from ArticlesBase had been republished. Here's the original article, which is about doing stand-up comedy. The republished article is here.

I checked the source code and saw that the bio-box links on the republished article are dofollow. So, what I'd heard about the republished links is true. (Of course, I could have found this out simply by clicking through to the text that you cut and paste when you choose to republish an article. But I just never got around to it! So it was a nice surprise to find it out the way I did.)

It was also surprising to have that article republished because it's only been up there a few days and has had few views. So, maybe I was just a bit lucky with it.

I have done some searching on this subject before and from what I can tell a backlink is still (slightly) beneficial SEO-wise even if it's from a republished article. If this is true then it means there is some indirect SEO benefit from publishing articles at ArticlesBase, since you've got a good chance of having them republished with dofollow backlinks. (Even if there's no such benefit it's still worth it because of the exposure and clicks you get.)

UPDATE: I did some more searching on this subject. I found this forum thread, in which there is some disagreement over the issue of whether backlinks from duplicate content carry SEO weight. However, it does seem that the general feeling is that yes, they do help.

Here's another bit of evidence that I think supports this assertion: If I Google some of the keywords in the article, then I get both locations for it, ArticlesBase and Articles Reloaded. So, even though it's not original, it's still been indexed (and quite quickly). Also, the main URL of this directory has a PR of 0. So it's certainly "on the map" in a search engine sense. Which is why I suspect that it would have to pass on a little bit of "SEO juice".

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Target people searching within article directories

Just another thought on using the newer article directories: As I mentioned, even though they haven't been around that long, some of these directories get really impressive traffic. I believe that you can use this to your advantage by being mindful of people searching within the directory itself (as opposed to coming from outside, via Google and other search engines).

Say you're writing an article about a subject that is not saturated, but then isn't that obscure either. I'm building a new site that's about comedy - stand-up in particular. So that's a good example.

Now if I'm targeting the keyword phrase "stand-up comedy" in, say Ezine Articles, I'm up against a lot of other articles on the subject, many of which have been around for ages, and have even garnered a few backlinks themselves. So I almost certainly won't get anywhere near the top of the results for people doing a custom search of that particular directory.

Sure, I'll get some traffic for long tail searches. And it's still worth doing for a whole host of reasons. But I just won't get on page one for that primary keyword - which would obviously be the best one to get because of its frequency and relevance.

But if I try smaller directories, then it won't be too hard to achieve this goal at all. There are less people searching those directories, but then there is so much less competition as well.

Of course it'd be very very hard - if not impossible - to test this hunch. Very few article directories have comprehensive stats. And even if they do they don't say whether visits to your articles are from Google itself, or from searches within the directory. Still, it's something I think could work well.

Submit to smaller, newer article directories too

I have been looking for some different article directories. While it's important to use the biggest and most established ones, it's also worth submitting to some smaller, newer ones. This does have SEO benefits, since Google does value a great diversity of locations for your backlinks.

And there are a lot of good lesser known article directories out there. They tend not to have high PR, however some of them do get lots of traffic.

Two things to look for when choosing these directories: If they seem to have unique, aesthetically pleasing templates, that is usually a good sign. The reason is that this implies that the owner is taking the project seriously and putting some real work into it. Chances are that even if it's new, without much content and traffic, the directory will still be around for a very long time. If it's just a cookie cutter directory, it's less likely to endure.

Also, check out the number of views for the directory's top articles. If there is a long list of these, and the viewer numbers are high, that's obviously a positive.

And have a look at the latest articles to have gone live. If you go back a week or two you can get a general idea of how many views a typical article gets per day, on average.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How article marketing delivers long term benefits

I've been using article marketing for a while now, and it definitely does work. It's not some instant, all powerful thing though. You just have to keep chipping away at it.

There's no doubt that a lot of people think that it's highly overrated, however. One criticism of the method that I've seen repeated a few times is that soon after you submit your article to a directory it just goes to the bottom of the pile and is not seen again - or seen less and less frequently.

But I know for a fact that this is not true - at least not in quality directories like Ezine Articles. I just looked through my stats in that particular site and chose some articles I'd submitted over a year ago. It didn't matter whether they got a decent amount of traffic or almost none at all. They were still attracting pretty much the same number of views as when I first submitted them. (This is also true of my stats in Articles Base, which I checked a few days ago. This wasn't true for very topical articles, however, and for obvious reasons.)

I didn't look at all my articles, so my conclusions may not be completely accurate. But it does seem that articles just keep on keeping on pretty consistently once you've submitted them.

This may be different for other, smaller article directories but I can't see why that would be. As long as the directory is reasonably well run, it will keep amassing more content and gain more credibility in search engines. Also, if you look at the top articles listed on some of the smaller directories you'll see that some have amassed very high numbers of views over the years.

So, even if you're submitting articles mainly for the clicks to your site rather than for the SEO benefit this is good news. Each article is like a little gift that just keeps on giving. The whole effect is cumulative.

Say you submit 25 articles that each attract an average of 10 views a week. That's 1000 views a month. Now if you have a click through rate to the site listed in your author bio-box of about 2 percent, which isn't hard to achieve, you've got 20 hits a month from that batch of articles alone for as long as the directories exist.

Okay, that doesn't sound like much. But remember that just keeps on going no matter what. It might wane over a long time, but this would be a very slow process.

And if, in a year, you end up with 100 articles out there getting seen at that same rate (that's an average of 2 articles submitted each week - again pretty easy to achieve) then you'll have 80 hits a month, or close to 1000 hits a year. And that's just from clicks.

Then there's the search engine benefit. Particularly if you're submitting to lots of different directories, those 100 articles will help you a great deal. I'd say that even if you don't do much keyword research your site is sure to hit the first page of some good long tail searches, which will also bring you some solid, targeted long term traffic.

For these reasons I believe that article marketing is still very much worth it - particularly as a long term strategy.