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Article Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

May 19, 2008
Over the years, the methods used by online marketers have gone through numerous stages of growth and evolution. At first, many organizations used dedicated offline advertising as their only means of driving traffic to their websites. Amidst increasing competition, online marketing experts developed new and innovative methods to reach customers.

Given that search engines are the primary source traffic for many websites, one of the most popular forms of unpaid online marketing is search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO. This is method of optimizing a website for given terms is a means of drawing traffic through the use of keywords and search engine indexing. Through the strategic use of targeted keywords and high-quality content, a website owner can significantly increase their search engine ranking and attract significant search engine traffic.

Though many methods have been suggested and used to achieve high search engine rankings, article marketing has become a popular approach. Although article marketing has a rich history in print media--think of 'expert' columns in magazines and newspapers--its online applications can be just as effective at attracting traffic and publicity.

Article marketing has gained popularity in part because of its accessibility. A website owner can write an article, distribute it, and increase their traffic through the links in the 'About the Author' section. The reader of the article gets expert knowledge for free and the online marketer gets free or very low-cost advertising.

Search engine optimization and article marketing go hand in hand. When an expert writes an article, they will naturally use the keywords that pertain to their niche. Readers who find the expert's articles through an Internet search may click on the link to the author's website contained in the 'About the Author' section. This can dramatically increase the site's traffic and search engine ranking.

Although many search engine ranking methods are still unknown or poorly understood, one widely-held belief is that a site will rank higher as it gains more incoming links. This is one way that article marketing directly increases a website's ranking. Every time one of the articles containing a link to the author's site is published online, more links pointing to that site are put into place. Search engines detect those incoming links and award a higher search engine ranking based on the number of links and the relative search engine rankings of the linking sites. However, over aggressive article marketing can produce excessive redundant content which may be flagged as spam by some search engines.

Unfortunately, this Internet marketing method has led to the proliferation of low-quality articles written only to increase search engine rankings. These articles are not written for the purpose of sharing information or educating readers; they are often little more than a specific keyword repeated many times in a short article. This type of online marketing article is known as an SEO article and is considered by many search engine users to be a nuisance.

To provide a positive experience for Internet readers and encourage future repeat traffic, Internet marketers need to choose their article content carefully. Providing valuable content to the Internet community is what article marketing was meant to do. Distributing articles with high-quality content does more than gain an initial surge in traffic and a higher search engine ranking. It also establishes the site with loyal readers who will keep coming back on their own.

Looking at some of today's Internet marketing giants, it's easy to see how they got where they are. They don't provide their readers with useless SEO articles, which are the Internet equivalent of junk food. They post useful, intelligent, high-quality content which provides value to the visitor.

What does all of this mean for you when you are in the early stages of designing your Web site? Web design can easily be geared toward search engine optimization. By including quality content articles on your own site, you provide a reason for casual visitors to stay and look around. When coupled with article marketing, this online marketing method is an effective way to increase your odds of attracting and retaining prospective clients.
About the Author
Currently consulting with AlterSpark e-Services, a firm providing web design, online marketing and web analytics, Brian Cugelman has conducted a decade of online campaigning with non-profit, for profit and intergovernmental organizations.
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