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Are Article Directories Still Effective for Link Building?

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As blog owners there is really nothing we love more than some good quality backlinks coming to our sites. The best backlinks are ones that come naturally from other bloggers and through social media. However not all of us can create incoming links simply by relying on outside bloggers and our site readers.

For times like these many bloggers will look to alternative solutions to build incoming links. One of these alternatives is through article marketing and directories.

The concept behind article directories is simple. Writers sign up to the web site and provide quality content and the article directory makes money from people continually submitting content to the site and having ads displayed on their site. The writer gets to have their article posted and link juice is passed from the article directories (usually high page rank) to their respective blogs or links listed in the articles.

You can see an example of how a typical article directory such as EzineArticles works.

Ezinearticles Directory

It seems like a win-win situation right? Well, it was until Google slapped the heck out of all the article based web sites out.

This used to be a great way to get your site backlinks and to rank higher in the search engines.

You can take a look at some of the top ranked article directories below, along with their respective Page Rank and Alexa scores.

Rank Article Directory Site PR Alexa Follow Status
#1 ehow.com 7 102 No-Follow
#2 ezinearticles.com 6 117 Do-Follow
#3 squidoo.com 7 118 Do-Follow
#4 hubpages.com 6 204 Do-Follow
#5 articlesbase.com 6 332 No-Follow
#6 buzzle.com 6 613 Do-Follow
#7 examiner.com 7 636 No-Follow
#8 suite101.com 7 771 Do-Follow
#9 technorati.com 8 905 Do-Follow
#10 brighthub.com 6 1163 Do-Follow
#11 seekingalpha.com 7 1561 No-Follow
#12 helium.com 6 1740 No-Follow
#13 ezinemark.com 2 1910 Do-Follow
#14 goarticles.com 3 2055 Do-Follow
#15 gather.com 6 2096 Do-Follow
#16 articlealley.com 5 2598 No-Follow
#17 articlesnatch.com 5 2618 No-Follow
#18 bukisa.com 5 2692 No-Follow

So the big question now is “Are Article Directories Still Worth It?

While the majority of site owners and link builders have put article directories on the back burner since Google came out with Panda and Penguin, some marketers are still relying on these old school backlinks.

The benefits in having links in the article directories is that you still have people occasionally reading articles that they find through the search results and it could result in people clicking over to your site. The negatives is that article marketing takes time if you are doing the writing yourself, and they simply don’t provide the link juice they used to, nor do they have the search rankings they used to.

A couple years back I had done some testing with article marketing and while the links did work well for my sites and helping them rank better, I saw very little traffic from the actual links in the article. You can see the stats from my author account below. With 124 live articles through the site, the articles have seen a horrid 2.85% click through rate which resulted in around 277 clicks over the past year to two years.

eZineArticles Performance

So I will leave the answer to the question up to you… are you still using article marketing in your link building efforts?

Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 15 years of experience and also a blogger at ZacJohnson.com, as well as the founder of BloggingTips.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Do Your Homework: How to Do Online Research Before Writing a Blog Post

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Unlike academic research, which we all learn in school and often get bogged down in, online content research is pretty simple. Unfortunately it is that simplicity that can often lead to mistakes, or just bare facts that don’t hold as much detail as our readers could use.

Your pre-content online research consists of two stages. The first is the research you do before, and the second is the research you do during the article writing process.

Pre-Research

Before you write is the pre-research, as in pre-writing. This is where you are going to find your general facts that will support your post. This is also where you are going to draw your primary sources, which will be linked through the body of your content.

I always prefer to follow the 3x rule. You want to find three times as many sources as you will use, and pair them against one another. You keep finding sources in batches of three until you are able to verify each against one another.

This is a simple way to ensure you are finding non-biased, verifiable facts, and not baseless opinions. With misinformation running rampant thanks to lazy bloggers and social media, this is a very important process.

You don’t want to become one of those bloggers posting factual inaccuracies like they are gospel truth. Not only does this add to a serious problem in online content creation, but it impacts your authority. We all know how important that authority is to the growth of a brand.

Your article is going to be broken into sections and subheadings. These will steer your research in many ways giving you more ideas which angles and problems to cover.

Text Optimizer helps you research related questions. TextOptimizer is the semantic research tool that extracts related concepts and questions right from Google search results:

textoptimizer questions

All of these questions may become subheadings of your future article (or inspire follow-up articles). You can export them in Excel and sort them into “existing content”, “currently working on” and “future articles”.

Supporting Research

Next, you have the research you do while you are creating your post. These are supporting details related to the above citations you have found. It is also where you will narrow down the links you intend to embed, if you don’t choose all three supporting posts.

This part is much simpler, and it more about giving readers additional information to follow. Sometimes I just provide a small masterlist of links for more data if the reader chooses, so I can focus more the quality of the content.

6 Tools To Make Research a Breeze

1. Google Drive Research Box

I use Google Drive for pretty much everything, including writing and backing up posts. I find it much more manageable than other cloud services. One of the features I love best is the research box. You highlight a keyword or phrase, and right click. It will have an option to research the highlighted section.

This brings up a side box with related sources, which you can view right in your screen. Because it uses Google results you have to be just as selective as you would be from a straight search, but it is much more convenient. Google Drive includes lots of useful information visualization and organization tools including Google Slides, Google Drawings, and more.

2. Mind Meister

Mind Meister

This is a great tool if you are dealing with a large post that is going to have a lot of involved research. Breaking the task down into simpler, smaller parts is a tried and true tactic.

MindMeister is a mindmapper tool that lets you do that. You can plan out the entire post, including linking sources so everything you need ends up in one place. All using a template that lets you easily move, edit and reformat before you ever get to the writing process.

3. Keyword.io

You may be wondering what an SEO tool is doing here. After all, this is about researching for articles, not for marketing. I would argue that they are technically in the same vein, but that isn’t why I included it.

I have used this tool to create lists of related key phrases I may not have thought of. This helps me to broaden my research based on what people have published or searched for online. So I may end up with sources I never would have found, because I wasn’t using the right combination of keywords.

If you have Yoast plugin installed, you have keyword optimization basically covered. Plus there a few more plugins that will help you keep content research and optimization under control.

4. Digital Research Tool (DiRT)

This is a fantastic masterlist of tools aimed at scholars, especially those in the social science and humanities. However, I think it is a great place for bloggers to find research tools they need for any number of purposes. They are broken down into categories, which you can select on the front page.

You are then taken to the tool that is best for the job at hand. It is the best collection of research redirects I have ever found, and much more efficient than trying to keep track of everything on your own.

5. Quora

Quora

Normally I would avoid social media like the plague when it comes to research. There is just too much garbage floating around, and opinion outweighs facts and logic at almost all times. But I will make an exception for Quora. In spite the fact that it is a platform that is very easy to abuse, it is full of genuine experts with backed up information.

It requires you to offer well thought out answers, and to provide a source or reason for your knowledge. I go there all the time to find great links to scholarly articles, studies, website tools, or to get first hand soundbites from major players in the industry that know about topics first hand.

6. MyBlogU

Speaking of experts, MyBlogU is another great place to find them. I usually go here for expert quotes as part of the secondary research process (finding backup information and supporting details). It is an easy way to add further gravity to something you have already officially cited, straight from the mouths of the people who know best.

Do you have a research tool to put on the list? Let us know in the comments!

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4 Blogging Tips for Freelance Writers

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Freelance writers, do you blog?

You better be blogging.

Running a well-stocked, self-hosted, WordPress blog showing off your writing skills is the most direct way to earn a lucrative living through freelance writing. Why? People with ample means get to see what you can offer through your blog, then, pay up. Both parties win. You have fun rendering a useful service. Clients get helpful, business-building content.

Blogging is a skill freelance writers need learn, and practice, to grow their business through blogging.

Follow these 4 tips to make money freelance writing through your blog.

1: Show Off Your Writing Skills by Publishing Content

Most aspiring freelance writers expect to make money freelancing without showing off their writing skills for free. Why in the heck would anybody hire you if they have no idea what you do, how you do it and why you do it?

Show off your writing skills by publishing content to your blog. Be generous. Publish one post weekly, at a minimum. Running a freelance writing blog seems smart to me. Along with teaching people how to be a skilled freelance writer, you build your friend network and show prospective clients your writing stuff.

Note; do not hold back. Many freelance writing blogger newbies publish one post and expect the floodgates of traffic, profits and clients to open up. Nope. Be generous, patient and persistent to gain client trust and to build your business over the long haul.

2: Network with Fellow Freelancers to Grow Your Reach

Get out of a competitive, poverty conscious vibe.

Enter into an abundant, generous, vibe.

Comment genuinely on fellow freelance blogs. Promote freelancers on your blog. Promote freelance writers on social media.

Here’s how money works, guys; if you do not fear losing money or clients to other freelance writers, you make tons of money through freelance writing over the long haul because all freelance buddies you make through your generosity promote you, endorse you and heck, some may even hire you.

Be generous. Help people. Make friends. Amplify your reach. Grow your business.

3: Build a Clear Freelance Writing Services Page

If you claim to be a freelance writer you better publish a clear, easy to understand, freelance writer page.

List specific services offered. Be clear to attract ideal clients who love what you offer.

Consider adding your writing rates to avoid tire kickers and other folks who want to bargain, barter and do other silly stuff. You are a business person. Bartering is for people in a Middle Eastern Souq. Set fixed prices. If people cannot afford your prices they can move on to another freelancer. Have posture.

Feel free to show off client testimonials if you have these endorsements but I have found this; if you get clear on your writing skills, show off your work through free content and clearly state what you offer, clients will find you and hire you. I did not even have a freelance business page when I landed my highest paying client. This shows you the power of clarity and mental alignment.

4: Build Blogging and Freelance Writing Posture

Please guys, do not barter, bargain or debate your writing rates. Do not charge $5 for a 600 word post. Do not work for peanuts just to say you landed a client. Do not work for demanding, overbearing clients. Never work for someone unless the person aligns with you, your values and your work.

Work for nice people who appreciate what you have to offer. This is the path toward great success online.

You choose clients. You pick clients. Have posture. Think and act abundantly.

Most freelancers struggle terribly because they have little or no posture. Believe in yourself. Believe in your abilities. Have faith. Trust in yourself.

The more you practice writing the more you gain confidence and clarity in your offering.

Enjoy your freelance writing success!

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3 Rewarding Benefits for Bloggers to Consider Joining An Honor Society

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Over approximately one million students are members of the National Honor Society (NHS). Many of which are likely bloggers, freelance writers, and/or have a passion for writing or pursuing their own path in life.

High school students with outstanding achievements are joining the organization every year. But you may not be familiar with the NHS and what it does, and also how it can benefit you as either a blogger, affiliate marketer, or an entrepreneur.

You may be asking, “should I join an honor society?” Is it really that important? Before you become an honor student yourself, you should weigh the benefits.

Here’s your guide to the benefits of the National Honor Society.

Should I Join an Honor Society?

In order to join the NHS, you’ll need to know what they do.

Established in 1921, the foundation recognizes students who have achieved excellence in several different ways. These include areas of service, leadership, character, and of course, scholarship.

Members need to meet certain criteria to join. Students who want to join should have at least a 3.0 on the GPA scale. They should also show great leadership and a commitment to volunteer work.

If you think you may be eligible, here are three rewarding reasons why you should join the NHS.

1. Making a Difference

One of the great aspects of the NHS is the opportunity to make a difference. Given the foundation’s emphasis on helping others, each student must meet a service hour requirement.

As a member, you’ll be a part of service projects whether individually or as a team.

This is not only an amazing way to get involved in your community but a way to meet new people. Volunteering opens up so many doors, personal and otherwise. It helps you find yourself and connect with people in the process.

The service you complete may also open other doors and interests for you along the way.

2. Building Your Resume

Every college and university knows what an NHS membership suggests about a student. This makes it a wonderful addition to your resume or college application. It makes you competitive and helps you stand out in a sea of students.

An NHS experience shows that you’re an outstanding citizen who’s engaged with the world. It shows that you have great academic standing and the potential to be a future leader. However, academics aren’t everything, and if you can compile all of your achievements and goals into an online resume website, you may win over some new audiences and personal opportunities as well.

Joining the NHS will help you turn your goals for the future into a reality and set your professional life into motion.

3. Developing Skills

To become an NHS student, you need to exhibit certain traits and character. But your experience as a member will also help you further develop your skills. The NHS is an excellent avenue for becoming even more well-rounded and capable.

The NHS helps students flex their skills as a leader and a part of a team. The volunteering component will help you develop great time management skills. It can also motivate you to maintain your good grades.

You’ll also learn a lot about networking and professionalism during the process. This will be indelibly valuable in the future.

Learn More

The answer to “should I join an honor society?” is a resounding yes. There are no downsides to becoming an honor student and so much to gain from the experience, and if you are thinking about launching a website or blog of your own, the experience and skills you will gain from such an environment and community will only help.

Not only does being in the NHS prepare you for what’s to come, but it’s also a nice way to celebrate what you’ve already worked so hard to accomplish.

To learn more about school and lifestyle tips, be sure to visit our blog.

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