Writing articles and submitting them to article directories is a great way to generate publicity and expert reputation but can be a time consuming and frustrating process unless you approach it systematically. Having written hundreds features for printed media for 20 years, I soon found I needed a very different approach for online articles and developed this template to help me produce articles that work.
The first thing I learned is that you are writing for four audiences with different sets of needs.
1. The Publisher ? Web sites, ezines, blogs and printed media all require different lengths and styles of content so you need to be flexible with lots of choice from short punchy to in depth analysis to personal commentary. Articles need to be topical, from an expert and contain no overt promotion and self serving links. The more articles you write the more of an "expert" you become.
2. The Reader - People search the internet for content so the article needs to provide topical, fresh ideas with plenty of easy to digest, practical advice.
3. The Search Engines ? You need to do extensive keyword research for your web site then select a specific primary keyword or phrase for each article and use it liberally for maximum search engine ranking
4. The Directory ? They each have specific requirements regarding format, structure and topic. Each article will be checked to see that it does not beach their content guidelines and formatting rules.
Before you start the article ? type out the headings below to form the template ? then use the notes to guide you.
Maximum 100 characters (including spaces) - that's about 12 words.
Make it grabby to catch the attention of readers and publishers but start with your primary search engine keyword phrase. In printed media titles starting ?How to?? or ?10 top tips for?" are very popular ? they are not good for search engines. This will go in the title of a web page.
Maximum 500 characters - about 90 words but 50 or 60 is better.
Make it enticing to hook the publisher and make them want to read the full article. The abstract is primarily targeted at the publisher and will be displayed just below the title on the search pages in the directory, but is secondary to the title in getting attention. Some publishers may also use it.
Description ? Meta Tag
Maximum 200 characters but preferably 150 ? two lines of text.
Shorter punchier version of the abstract which must contain your primary keywords ? you will need this if you publish on your own web site.
Keywords ? Meta Tag
Maximum 100 characters - about 12 words comma separated
Start with your primary keyword of phrase then add other relevant keywords used in the article.
Length really depends on your market and style. Much advice suggests about 250 to 750 words, but some publishers want in-depth analysis and I have had a 1700 word article reproduced at least once. Research your market and be flexible, with a mix of lengths and perhaps long and short versions of the same article.
Write the basic article with NO FORMATTING WHATSOEVER ? if you are using word, disable all the auto-formatting like smart quotes, automatic hypertext links and paragraph spacing because they will all cause you problems. You can always reset them later.
Get your Primary Keyword Phrase into the first sentence if you can and provide a liberal sprinkling of keywords throughout. Don't overdo it. The article still has to be a good read and remember though you are writing for four audiences, Content is King.
Absolutely no advertorial copy - Do not promote your products and services you will kill the article.
Absolutely no self serving links ? No links to your web site or affiliate sites in the body of the article, if you do you will not be published. If you have links to resources show them as text - many sites do not allow live html links in the article.
Copyright, date, name, country
Few directories ask for this but it makes sense to put it at the bottom of the article or in the field requested.
Maximum 500 characters, "including spaces and html code." This is the limit for many sites so best to stick to it for all.
This is your opportunity to promote yourself but limit to 1 or 2 self serving links and write in the "Third Person." The publisher has to live with this on their site or ezine so make it palatable for them. I offer an incentive for people to visit my web site, but make sure that live links show the web address not keywords. If the publisher doesn't use live links, you still want people to see the web address.
HTML Formatted Article
Once you have completed the unformatted text article ? you can then make an HTML formatted copy if you wish. Most sites do not need HTML, a lot of publishers don't accept it and some directories forbid all html. Remember "Content is King." If you do format ? keep it simple ? too much formatting and it will never be published.
Copyright 2005 Richelle (Rikki) Arundel, UK
About the Author:
Founder and First President of the Professional Speakers Association, RikkiArundel is an International Keynote Speaker, Trainer and Writer and an expert in sales and marketing communications with an impressive track record. Get your free copy of How to Get Customers Queuing up to Buy at http://www.SpeakingandMarketingTips.com