12.3 WebPR Tactics
- Become familiar with the various tactics involved in Web public relations (WebPR).
- Learn the best practices for writing an article for online syndication.
Online Article Syndication
Online article syndication is one of WebPR’s (Web public relations) principal and most successful tactics. It involves writing articles that are in no way a direct promotion of your site. These are not press releases; they are written to provide information and valuable content. Articles are submitted to online article directories, where they are picked up and republished on other sites.
As the articles contain a link and keywords relevant to your site, product offerings, or services, the benefits for search engine optimization (SEO) are excellent. But the strategy won’t work unless people want your articles. Thus, they need to be broad, informative, and not just thinly disguised advertisements. Each article will also have an “About the Author” section. This could contain up to three links to your site, and many article directories will allow you to include a backlinkA link at another site leading to your site and also called an incoming link. These are seen as indications of popularity by search engines. in the body of the article as well.
The article gets republished on many Web and blog sites in the weeks after it is published. In order to ensure your site remains the search engine authority on the article’s subject, the article should be published and indexed there first. Online article syndication not only allows you to introduce fresh, optimized content to your site but also enables you to generate valuable SEO backlinks.
Articles containing relevant information are value adding and therefore attract links naturally. And, if published on a third-party site, they should carry a link back to your own Web site. This drives visitors to the site that are automatically predisposed to your brand and are therefore more likely to engage and buy the products you offer.
Writing an Article for Online Syndication
Choose a Topic
By looking at your Web site’s content themes, and the key phrasesA word or words that a Web site optimizes for. Also used to refer to words that are used by users of search engines. associated with them, you will be able to write targeted, key-phrase-rich articles. Listening to the conversations around your brand, and seeing what customers are saying, can also lead you to topics relevant to your Web site and your customers. Refer to your SEO strategy, and the keywords you are targeting, to create articles that complement your SEO efforts.
A WebPR article should aim to be the following:
- Insightful and informative
Optimize the Article and Publish It on Your Own Site
Using SEO and Web copy guidelines, ensure that the content is optimized for search engines, as well as engaging for readers. Publish the article to your own Web site first to establish the authority of your Web site. This will do the following:
- Allow you to reap the SEO benefits of fresh, optimized copy
- Enable your site to be regarded as the expert on that subject
- Avoid Google’s strict duplicate-content policies
First, the article needs to be optimized for your Web site. Implement all the tactics covered in Chapter 14 "Online Copywriting", such as metadata that adheres to search engine standards, optimized title and key phrases, optimal use of <h> tags, and links. Once it is live, you will need to wait for it to be indexed by the search engines: if you type the article title into the search engine and it returns the page with your article on it as a result, it has been indexed and it’s now ready to be submitted to the online article syndication sites and directories.
The article then needs to be edited for syndicating. Different directories have their own requirements and guidelines that need to be adhered to.
For example, some directories require that all links to your Web site in the body of the text, bar one, would need to be removed, as well as all mentions of your company as a brand name. You will also need to create an “About the Author” section at the end of the article. This can tell readers more about your company and the information they can access by visiting the site. You will be able to add two or three links in this section, depending on the directory. Send one link to the home page and the other(s) to pages within the site.
If these guidelines aren’t met, your articles will not be published and you may be flagged as writing irrelevant content and, in the worst case, be blocked from any further submissions.
Most directories allow the inclusion of keywords relevant to the article. Ensure these are relevant to the article and that you include the key phrases for which you have optimized the article. These key phrases will allow readers to find your article, using the search function on the directories. This is also called tagging your article.
Many directories also allow a description. This description will be displayed, along with the title of the article, when someone has searched the directory for a key phrase or category for which you have tagged your article. The description should entice the user to read your article, so it needs to be succinct and gripping. It also needs to inform the readers what the article is about and how they will benefit from reading it.
Once you have done this, you will then need to convert the article into HTML. The HTML is very basic, and while the different directories have their own HTML guidelines that you will need to familiarize yourself with, the standard tags are as follows.
- To bold: <strong>phrase you wish to bold</strong>
- To italicize: <em>phrase you wish to italicize</em>
- To underline: <u>phrase you wish to underline</u>
- To list: <li>lines you wish to list</li>
- To create a paragraph: <p>paragraph here</p>
- To insert a line break: <br/>
- To insert a link: <a href=“page url”>phrase you wish to link</a>
For each directory, the submission guidelines will indicate requirements for the text.
Submit the Article to Directories
Publishing the articles to directories means they can be picked up and republished on other sites, which contributes significantly to link-building efforts. There are hundreds of online article directories out there, but you need to be selective when choosing which ones to submit to. The good article directories usually allow up to four links to be placed in each article.
Here is a list of ten directories that you could publish your articles to:
These directories all allow three to four links, they all give statistics on how the articles are doing, and they all allow you to preview the article before you publish it—it is important to be able to preview it to ensure that no mistakes were made during the HTML conversion process.
All the previous article directories are free, though you will need to register for an account.
Once you have submitted the article, it will undergo a review process—the directories do this to ensure that the articles are actually useful and relevant rather than simply advertorials. It will then be approved and available to read on the site. From here people who are interested in republishing the article on their own sites or blogs can do so as long as they reproduce the content exactly as you have submitted it. If the article is well written and informative, it has the capacity to go viral, which is the ultimate goal as the more times it is republished the more links you will acquire—and all at no cost to you.
Monitor Its Progress
A bit of basic online reputation monitoring will enable you to keep an eye on where your article is being republished and ensure that it is being republished correctly. There’s no use in sites republishing it if they’re going to strip out all the links and the “About the Author” section that you included, as this is ultimately the driving force for business opportunities.
- Online article syndication allows you to introduce fresh, optimized content to your site and enables you to generate SEO backlinks.
- Optimize the article and publish it to your site. Then you need to wait for it to be indexed.
- Be sure to submit keywords and description when using directories.
- Submit the article to a directory.
- Monitor its progress using ORM techniques.
- There are several directories you can use.
- Explain how tagging is important when submitting articles to online syndication.
- Consider why articles should be reviewed before going live on a site. Give an example of a situation where this would be a best practice.