Posted on July 9, 2008
I'm sure most of you are aware of the marketing power of a well-written promotional article about your industry or business. A compelling and educational article on your audience's topic of interest will drive traffic to your website and increase customer confidence in your expertise. Best of all, it requires no investment aside from your time and effort.
But where do you start? The following quick tips (presented in chronological order) should serve you well in starting out upon this method of online advertising. All of these points could be several pages in themselves, but this should give you a good overview of the process.
Think of an Article Topic
Write what you know about, first and foremost. Brainstorm topics of which you have specific knowledge. It doesn't have to be something obvious either. Write about a recent challenge your company faced and how you overcame it. Write about an interesting situation that you know is a common problem in your industry but that is not often addressed. Don't be afraid to present yourself or your company as imperfect, or as facing challenges. You will come across as genuine, conscientious and as a striver for perfection in your field.
For instance, one of the articles I plan to write in the next few weeks will be about our video production company's work on a forklift training video. It was the first industrial training video our company had done, and I plan on laying out our specific challenges and what we learned from the process. Of course I will include the fact that the customer was very happy with the finished product, but I will also express the worries and difficulties we had along the way. (Also make sure you get permission from your clients if you plan to mention them specifically in the article.)
If you've done any work on doing search engine optimization for your website, producing an effective web article is quite similar. Because you want your article to be relevant in searches, you need to put a lot of focused keywords in your content. First make a list of all the keywords and phrases that you want your article to be relevant for.
For instance, in preparing for this article, I thought about who I wanted to read it. I did internet searches to research what kind of language was being used in the industry, and I used a thesaurus to find similar terms. I came up with a list of keyword phrases that included: ‘writing promotional articles' ‘how to write online articles' ‘writing web articles' ‘how to write articles that advertise' ‘tips for promotional internet writing', amongst many others. Research will give you a good idea of the kinds of search terms that are relevant, and this will allow you to use these synonyms and phrases in the body of your article.
Article Writing Strategies
Blatant self-promotion won't often work in the web article format. Your audience doesn't want an obvious advertisement; they want to be educated and/or entertained, and that's what you should be striving to do.
Be concise. Use short paragraphs. If you find yourself writing more than 1,000 words, think about splitting your content into two articles. You're writing for an often impatient audience, used to immediate gratification, so don't get literary or meander. Of course, this isn't always the case; if you're writing for potential customers in your industry and you know they like to read dense, jargon-y content, you should cater to them.
Put specific effort into coming up with several good titles for your article. They should be as straightforward and as keyword-rich as you can make them, as the title is the major thing that search engines will be noticing, and because a good title will make relevant potential customers want to click on it. You will want to alternate these titles when you post your article on different article database sites.
For example, the first internet article I wrote I titled ‘Tips for Effective Website Video'. Some alternate titles I posted it under were ‘Producing Effective Website Videos', ‘Tips for Making Company Website Video', and ‘Pointers for Avoiding Bad Website Video'. You get the idea; the more good titles you give your article, the more likely it will come up for these different combinations of keywords.
Posting Your Internet Article
Research good article-posting databases, particularly ones that focus on your industry. No two sites are formatted exactly the same. Some require you to break your article into bullet-points with headings above each paragraph. Some require you to know some basic html code for putting in your website link or making your title bold or in italics. Some will require you to enter in a short synopsis of your article. Some will require unformatted basic html code, so you should save your article in a basic text format as well.
I would advice you to post your article on as many sites as you can; at least ten. Don't forget to alternate the titles you have chosen. The more you post it, the more likely it is to get read.
Article Resource Box
The resource box is the section, usually at the bottom of the article, where you can put in a short bio and a link to your company website (the format varies from site to site.) Some of the sites will require you to know a tiny bit of html coding to put in your link manually. You can find this easy enough by doing a search for ‘basic html code'.
If your article has done its job pretty well, a very small fraction of the people who read your article will click on the link and check out your website. A very small fraction of the people that check out your website will think, ‘Hey, I'd like to do business with these guys'. That's if everything goes well. The first article I wrote I posted on only six websites. I did it mainly as an experiment, not expecting anything much to happen. That article resulted in two phone calls from companies asking about our services, and one phone call from a journalist wanting to interview me for a story about online advertising she was writing. Needless to say, I was very encouraged with the potential of this medium.
Give on-line article writing a try, and let AddMe know how it has worked for you. We'd love to hear your stories about how it has increased business for your company.
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