If you have a niche website, either for your main online/offline business or to generate income from affiliate sales and pay per click advertising (Adsense), encouraging visitors to visit your website is an extremely high priority.
Whilst you can achieve this using your own pay per click advertising campaign, running your own affiliate program (letting others worry about it), or via offline advertising, it is always nice to get free organic traffic coming to your website.
Purists would claim that if you build enough compelling content, or provide a vital service, then customers will come natually. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most powerful sources of traffic.
Organic traffic comes from either search engines (such as Google or MSN), or links from other related websites/directories. Search Engine Optimization experts refer to on-page optimization and off-page optimization.
On-page optimization refers to your content, and the emphasis you place on keywords within each page of content you produce to make it relevant to the subject you are talking about, whilst also targetting the keywords most commonly used by people looking for information on that subject.
Off-page optimization is all about generating links to your site, pro-actively seeking linking partners, submitting press releases, using affiliate links that point to your own domain and providing content to others via syndication.
Syndication can happen naturally using RSS technology, but a slightly less technical method that anyone can use is to submit articles to article directories and ezines.
There are literally 100s of article directories. Some are more specialized than others, only accepting content on their core subjects. Some specialist sites even pay for high quality content (even if it contains a link to your website).
However submitting articles to directories can be a very painstaking task.
Recently there has been a massive surge in interest in articles as one of the most viable ways to gain backlinks from other sites, part of it stimulated by the very powerful launch of Article Announcer by Jason Potash.
Since the launch of Article Announcer, 2 more very affordable alternatives have been launched that are very worthwhile taking a look at. They are certainly not copy-cats. It takes a lot of time to develop server based or desktop solutions, and they are distinctly different.
What follows is a brief overview of all 3 products I believe are worth of your attention
I am only going to cover Article Announcer briefly. I previous wrote about it when it was launched.
Ok it wasn't just launched, it was blasted into the internet marketing arena, and caused major shockwaves.
First of all with his Seducing the Search Engines Article
Then Jason provided hardcore research data with a shocking free report.
Then he provided followup information on a new blog, including audio interviews with his testers.
And finally Article Announcer itself was launched.
Article Announcer is a semi-automated solution, and also provides an in-depth training course featuring not only Jason Potash, but also one of the foremost experts on website traffic, John Reese.
The information is the key. If you want to make the utmost of your article distribution, there is no alternative to the Article Announcer package.
The price of Article Announcer, no matter how good value it is, certainly deters many from taking the plunge. It is a great investment, but many of us (including myself) have better things to invest our money on immediately, and have to make do with other solutions.
So enter the arena 2 great and totally different products.
Article Marketer is a send and forget server based service. I was a very early adopter, and regular readers of my blog will have noticed and maybe clicked on some of the banners I have had for it.
It is an important distinction, because it does offer many advantages, the most important being:-
- it only takes a few minutes to submit articles to 100s of directories and specialist newsgroups
- you can schedule articles to be sent over a span of days or weeks
- it is constantly updated - this is important because directories change, and it is an automatic solution
- it is subscription based so you are guaranteed updates forever (or you stop paying)
- if a new directory is added to their supported list, your articles are added automatically
I have been using their paid service for a few weeks now, and the results have been very good. My articles have been getting distribution, and I can see when I Google some of the backlinks, and massive references when I search by my article titles.
It is important to note that Google never shows all backlinks, and not every article directory gives you a live link. Most also don't allow you to submit articles with a HTML bio.
The negative side to Article Marketer until recently was that it didn't provide a record of the articles already submitted, and there was no provision to include HTML in the author bio for sites that allowed it.
Article Marketer are responsive to feedback from their customers however, and recently added an optional HTML resource box, and a submission history feature.
You still can't vary the anchor text, but as I said at the start, this system is different. It is not designed for perfectionists. It is more for fans of the 80/20 rule.
Another negative (for some) is that they don't submit to every top directory. I am actually happy with this, because the top directories are the ones you often want to take extreme care with, and allow you to edit articles at a later date, and "tweak" things. They also often allow multiple Author Names under a single account, and that would be hellish to implement.
Chris the owner is highly responsive to any feedback you give him that can be accomodated. They are however not trying to produce an online version of Article Announcer, there is only so much you can do with a fully automated process and keep it functioning and easily usable for the majority of customers.
Article Marketer is well worth giving a try, even if you just use it for a few articles when you are away on your holidays.
Article Submitter Pro
Just launched, Article Submitter Pro is a product I had the chance to beta test and I was very impressed.
They have taken the middle ground.
Article Submitter Pro, is a desktop application but has the backend technology to handle both automatic submission, and enhanced manual submission for directories that are not suitable for automatic processes.
It doesn't come with all the high quality educational materials provided with Article Announcer, but it is a real work-horse, doing the job exactly as advertised.
With Article Submitter Pro you get a superb piece of software that will save you days of painful manual submission, and you are only having to pay for the software.
I have had no problems communicating with the developers, and they have been highly responsive. As an example the first beta version was not Windows 98 compatible. For people like me dragging my feet regarding Windows XP, even though they might be running new computers, Windows 98 support is very important. Within hours of my email to the developers, they did some tweaking and I had a working product to test. This wasn't just a "bug fix" - many software developers will not support Win98 - this shows a willingness to jump through hoops for their customers that is becoming rare and should be supported.
Article Marketer doesn't provide it - I have questioned Chris regarding this when their service was first announced, and it is not a priority.
Article Announcer does provide it - I don't own a copy (total honesty) - I don't know how the interface for it works in Article Announcer, but Article Announcer is a system that is user interactive, you actually have to sit there visiting each site, it just speeds things up. I think you always get the option to modify anchor text before you tell it to submit, and you can always do small batches. I can't describe how the remainder of the interface works. There is no demo that I am aware of, and I haven't seen anyone do the sensible thing of making a video showing the process.
Article Submitter Pro stores Bio boxes seperately - you choose the article, bio and destinations, and then tell it to submit. (corrected) Article Submitter Pro automatically rotates bio boxes if you select more than one and are submitting to multiple directories.
My testing of Article Submitter Pro during the beta was a lot briefer than I would have liked. I had problems initially because of Win98, and then when I received a patch the next day I had to fly to the UK.
I tested it briefly there, 1 quick article (for an undeclared site) to a few directories. It was still a bit buggy.
There are improvements to be made, but the developers are responsive and have some good plans.
The Need for Changing Anchor Text
First of all most sites/lists still don't accept html, so it is not just the anchor text, but the page you send people to that has to be changed quite often.
Lots of different landing pages, for those sites seems to be overkill imho.
Many sites don't allow a different bio per article, they have one per author.
Notice that Jason in his Video shows article distribution, not actual backlinks for the article he published.
A site like Ezine articles publishes a feed that I am sure lots of sites use. Take a look in the feeds, they don't include your bio, they do include your title.
I have one of my articles just accepted there - it doesn't even include my name in the feed, let alone my bio.
"Keywords, Ranking, & Search Engine Optimization Fun"
Also the total references number is a little fictional - as an example Google currently shows 470 or so listings for the above article, that was first published using Article Marketer 3 weeks ago.
A few of those were actually submitted manually, and only at the start of this week was I able to get back to working on articles after my trip.
However 9 of those links are on one site http://www.workoninternet.com/, I am sure there are multiple duplicate references.
The gain in visible backlinks is minor.
But then again Article Marketer doesn't submit to all the majors, and also had a couple of problems that have since been fixed regarding bios. I know sites where my article was submitted without a bio, because they stopped using a bio box. I am trying to get that fixed on the sites it happened.
A manual program you would notice this (maybe) before hiting submit.
It comes down to 80/20
So which would I choose?
They are each fundamentally different.
I am an existing customer of Article Marketer, and will continue to use their service extensively.
I have already been using Article Submitter Pro during beta, and look on it as a must buy to handle the article directories I want to submit to "carefully" - those not handled by Article Marketer.
Article Announcer is a product I still can't afford - sometime down the line I will purchase it from my Adsense income to learn how I can improve my articles for maximum effect.
If you are just starting out, both Article Marketer and Article Submitter Pro are affordable solutions, and neither will be thrown away if you buy Article Announcer at a later date for the education materials.
If you already own Article Announcer, I can still see a massive reason to use Article Marketer, because the only way to use Article Announcer is sitting infront of your computer, no scheduling possible.
Even if you do own Article Announcer, it is worth taking a look at Article Submitter Pro. It is a different way of submitting, and you might find it more agreeable.
Article Marketer is the only solution that will automatically submit articles to new directories as soon as they appear, and I foresee many more article directories appearing soon.
(updated - added information regarding bios and anchor text, improved the clarity on new Article Marketer features)