Sunday, March 19, 2006

Internet marketing and online learning: viral articles

There is increasing discussion lately about the integration of ebusiness and elearning.

In my travels around Australia I have observed that the VET sector has one key strategic weakness - a general lack of knowledge of internet marketing (despite producing world-class elearning products).

I have seen leading edge, collaborative, curriculum development centres shut down because of a lack of funding. Yet, global marketing of the elearning education products could have produced enough revenue to maintain and grow such centres. E-learning removes physical barriers and makes the global market accessible - but, you still have to let people know what you have to offer.

One of the major internet marketing techniques that has emerged over the last few years is the use of viral articles.

The concept is that you write articles about your focal area and place them on your website/blog and as well submit them to article directories (of which there are about 400, with more starting every day!). Here's an example of an article directory:

People visit the directories looking for articles on various topics and some include them in their ezines or email them to friends, and the recipients, in turn, repeat the process...and so you have viral marketing in train that costs nothing and lasts for years. Some of the world's leading internet marketers have used this strategy for many years.

Key features of these articles are:
  • usually about 500-1000 words in length
  • do not include web links within the article
  • focused on one key theme/sub-theme
  • provide information for consumers/students - not hard sell

Each article contains a resource box at the end which provides information about the author and a call to action (e.g. visit my site, subscribe to my newsletter, request more information, etc) and a hot link to your website/blog. Here's some editorial guidelines which represent fairly common practice amongst article directories:

There are other significant marketing benefits that accrue from writing and submitting articles. If you set them up right, they can help to increase the Google page ranking for your website/blog. If you include a link to your website or blog and submit your articles to directories, you will have an external link from the directory back to your website/blog. Many of the article directories have high page rankings in Google and Yahoo because they are content-rich sites. External links to your site from these highly ranked sites helps to boost your own site's ranking. If you store the articles on your own site, this too can increase your site's ranking as well as assist your students.

Articles can also help to put you at the top of Google's listings for searches on your relevant keywords.

For example, I have created a blog to focus on affiliate marketing and offer my services as an affiliate marketing coach:

When I submit my articles to directories, they in turn submit them to the search engines. I also submit my blog to search engines, blog directories and RSS directories.

If you search Google for the keyword term, "affiliate marketing coach", usually at least three of the first 10 listings on page one, will point back to my blog or one of my articles. Some links will be from article directories, while others will come from blog directories. At the time of writing this posting, five of the top ten Google listings (of 2,500,000 listings) for the term, "affiliate marketing coach", link back to my blog or one of my articles.

The secret, however, is the way you incorporate the chosen keyword in your articles and your site. For example, my keyword "affiliate marketing coach" is:
  • the title of my blog
  • in the URL address of my blog
  • in the resource box of all my articles (e.g. "Ron Passfield, Phd, affiliate marketing coach, ...")
Owners of article directories will ask you for the title of your website/blog, the URL and provide you with the opportunity to write a brief resource box in your article. So the secret is to have "all roads pointing to...your keyword".

When you write articles and publish them on your site and in directories, you create credibility for yourself, your courses and your organisation. You also enhance your personal profile - but that's another story/posting!

If you are reticent to start writing articles, you might like to read my article:
Activate Your Chakras to Improve Your Article Writing


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