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Do articles still work in marketing?

Articles: are they still an effective marketing tool?

Articles: are they still an effective marketing tool?

Print and online magazines publish articles regularly as a way to draw in readers. In a traditional publication, the internal debate always rages about which is more important – the content or the advertising. The question has never been successfully answered because the content writers need the advertisers to pay for their work, and the advertisers need good content to ensure that readers pick up the magazine.

Articles aren’t what they used to be

Somewhere along the line, internet marketers adopted the “article” as a search-engine optimization (SEO) tool. The idea is that a wide range of articles could be stored in “article directories,” which could be reprinted on websites, and could also be indexed individually in search engines. The contributors of the content were/are marketing teams who are trying to get readers to click on one or more embedded links in articles that take the reader to their desired website.

In this context, the sole purpose of the “article” is SEO. The content is less important than the revenue it can generate; the only requirements of the content are that it is seeded with specific search terms, and that it contains a link to the target website. Unfortunately, people want more than empty content. They want real information, which makes SEO articles unattractive. Further, search engines penalize sites that offer content that’s repeated from a different site. Usually, the site that ranks the highest for a particular content item gets to appear in the search engine, and the additional sites get moved down or eliminated from the search engine results altogether. This leads many marketers to conclude that the old-school article directory has completed its lifecycle as an SEO tool.

The second evolution of “article marketing” comes from recognized print and online publications. In the past, some publications may have accepted content from independent sources. This content provided the depth readers were looking for, but may also have contained a healthy dose of marketing information. Publications tempered the marketing content to maintain a balance between the content and marketing.

Today, many publications do not accept third-party or independent content outright; instead, they sell space in their publications for content-based marketing, which may or may not be labeled as advertiser-sponsored content. Essentially, third-party content becomes a giant advertisement that looks, for the most part, like an article. The print space is sold like advertising, so depending upon the size of the article and the publication’s circulation, placing an article in a publication could cost thousands of dollars.

Some publications and journals still accept “scholarly” articles. Typically, authors are invited to contribute, but some publications will consider unsolicited content. If you would like more information about writing an article, or you’ve been invited to submit an article to a publication or journal and you need help with the writing, please contact me at eileen@juliesocean.com or call me at (734) 961-0408.
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