by Sally E. Smith
There's no disputing the power of Internet marketing, nor the many facets that comprise Internet marketing. From pay-per-click campaigns and SEO optimization to email marketing and Web directory submissions, there are a seemingly endless number of ways you can promote your website. Increasingly, however, website owners are turning to free article directory submissions to drive traffic to their websites. Although free article directory submissions are low cost and take relatively little effort, there are five common mistakes that render any effort ineffective. Here are three guidelines to help you avoid those costly mistakes and to reap the greatest rewards from free article directory submissions.
1. Avoid Self-Promotion
Free article directories serve two masters: publishers and authors. For publishers, a free article directory feeds the insatiable need for website content. Although authors generally retain the copyright to their work, publishers can generally reprint articles for free - providing they reprint the article in its original form and include the author bio and any active links. For authors, free article directories are a mechanism to indirectly promote a website that offers a product, a service, or information. Note that the key word here is "indirectly." Essentially, the author is offering his or her expertise on a subject of interest in exchange for the privilege of having his or her name and website promoted on the publisher's site.
Once you understand the nature of free article directories, you can avoid a number of common mistakes in writing your article, namely those falling into the category of self-promotion. For example, most directories do not accept press releases; if you're writing a press release, distribute it through one of any number of online press release services. Similarly, most directories do not accept hyperlinks in the body of the article. Hyperlinks are appropriate for the author's bio or resource box, but not for the article itself.
2. Offer Meaningful Content
Submitting articles to free article directories serves two purposes: to get readers to click on the link in the bio or resource box that leads to your website, and to raise your search engine page ranking. One element of search engine page ranking is the number of one-way (non-reciprocal) links to your website. So, the greater number of sites that use your article with your bio or resource box, the greater the number of non-reciprocal links back to your website and the higher your search engine ranking.
There are well over a thousand free article directories on the Web. You can submit your article to each and every one of them and create over a thousand links back to your site. But the trick is to get publishers to reprint your article (which includes your bio or resource link back to your website), so that it appears on tens of thousands of websites across the Internet. How do you do that? By writing articles that offer genuinely meaningful content.
All too often, authors submit writing that is the article directory equivalent of spam. Either the articles are self-promoting, are stuffed with little more than keywords, or are tired reiterations of "me too" articles that offer nothing useful to the reader. If you're going to go to the trouble of submitting articles, take some extra time and ensure that the content is relevant and meaningful. You surely have some expertise to share with the public; doing so will add legitimacy and credibility to the website you want people to visit. If your article is worthless, publishers won't reprint it and the articles directories may even reject it. That undermines your Internet marketing efforts and is a waste of your time.
3. Choose Your Keywords Wisely
Before you begin writing your article, think about keywords. Keywords are words or phrases that people enter into search boxes on search engines. Your article should contain a number of keywords that are relevant to your website, so that search engines (both internal search engines within free article directors and general search engines) will be able to find your article.
Choosing keywords is both an art and a science. One of the biggest mistakes authors make is choosing keywords that are either too general or too specific. If you have an ecommerce site, for example, and choose "shopping" as your primary keyword, your article will be lost in a sea of much bigger fish. A Google search of "shopping" returns 815 million results. What are the chances that your article will be in the top ten? The top million? Zilch.
On the other hand, if your primary keyword phrase is "65% off graduation gifts," you won't have the problem of being lost at sea, but of being stepped over as a puddle. Who searches the term, "65% off graduation gifts"? No one.
There are free keyword selector tools available on the Web. Before writing your article, do your research and discover what it is people are seeking. The art is to find keywords and keyword phrases that are used, but that aren't generic. Once you have those, you can go ahead and incorporate them into your article.
The rule of thumb is to use your primary keyword or keyword phrase in the title of your article, in the first paragraph, and in the last paragraph. You should also sprinkle your keywords throughout your article, but in a way that makes sense. Keyword stuffing (the repetitive use of keywords in the absence of a meaningful context) is not only annoying, but is also likely to lead to the rejection of your article by free article directories.
Free article directories can be a powerful Internet marketing tool, and a valuable component to any Internet marketing campaign. Before your fingers hit the keyboard, though, remember to avoid self-promotion, offer meaningful content, and choose your keywords wisely.
Sally E. Smith administers the free article directory, Content4Women(www.content4women.com), and is the editor-in-chief of BBW Magazine Online .