We've all been there. We hear about how articles will generate HUGE publicity for a site, (the old ?If you build it, they will come?) so we sit down, write an article, submit it to article directories, then wait. A week goes by, you get a trickle, another week, still a trickle, a month, still a trickle (if that). What happened to all the promise of thousands and thousands of people coming to the site? Nothing - that's the problem. Very few (if any) ezines, newsletters, or web sites reprinted your article. Just the RSS feeds (they were probably responsible for the trickle). Lets take a look at how an article should be written for maximum exposure.
Headline/Title (This just in?)
The headline is arguably the most important part of the article. If the reader isn't interested after reading the headline, they won't read the rest. It should be something catchy. My first article was entitled ?Branded Email: Email Branding is the Next Generation of Email? and after posting that to a site or two, I shortened it to ?Branded Email: The Next Generation of Email.? By now, I'm sure you realize that the introduction paragraph was describing my first experience at article writing. My title was not catchy, (in fact, it sucked) and nobody came.
What is catchy? ?How to? headlines are good. ?10 Tips? (or 5 tips, or 47 tips) are often read. Case studies are great. Alliteration (putting words that begin with similar sounds together in a row ? Gary Guesses Google's Gauge ? Wow, that was bad, but you get the point) grabs a reader's attention. Using common phrases and clich's is quite effective, putting a funny spin or changing those same phrases and clich's works well too. Questions get readers. Pique the reader's curiosity, and they'll read.
Also, depending on your audience, you can use "shocking" words and phrases - mild swear words and words that the industry deems ?taboo? work well to get readers. ?Shocking? headlines create emotion, and emotion gets a visitor to read the article. I probably offended you (or made you laugh) with my headline ? and you're reading the article now. Just make sure that if you decide to go with a 'shocking? headline, you also propose a solution. ?- but I can help!? takes your offence and changes it to ?Wow, he's right, I'll read the article and find out how he can help me!? Some readers wouldn't keep reading if I just made the headline ?Your articles suck? ? that's just plain mean. For example: If I was writing an article about plastic surgery, I could make the headline ?Are you ugly? I can fix that.?
Byline (By: ME!)
Bylines are simple ? just type your name in the box. Don't use your business name - businesses don't write articles! If you're writing for your business, include it with a copyright at the bottom of the body of the article.
Summary (That about sums it all up?)
Summaries are there to pull the reader in. Their job is to tell the reader what the article is about, and to grab their attention so the reader clicks and reads the article. Much like a headline, these need to be fairly catchy, but concentrate on informing the reader about the article. This is not the place to generate emotion (especially if your headline already has), but instead it's where you need to leave the reader wanting more.
For example, "These tips will help you make over $5000/month" is a good sentence to put in your summary, as is "Find out the secrets of how to start your own business, without a lot of startup costs." Do NOT make this sound like a blatant sales pitch, or your article won't get read.
Next Time (Same bat time, same bat channel)
Check out Part 2 of ?Your articles suck? for tips and tricks on how to write a great Article Body and a wonderful Resource Box.
Jason is a long time web developer, and the owner of Premier MicroSolutions, LLC, an Internet marketing company based in Ohio. When you want to submit your articles, visit Content-Articles.com - The Premier Web Site Content Article Directory