In this edition of the content primer, I’m going to go over the ins and outs of articles and what they can do to make your content marketing strategy strong. Articles take up a unique position in the content marketing pantheon, and they can be used for both good and evil. There has always been a considerable amount of argument about the practice known as “article marketing” in the content writing community – those who say that it is good, like Coen Mayes: he writes about why article marketing is good for your online business here. There are also those who say it is only bad when used inappropriately, such as the post“Does Article Marketing Still Work?” by Sean R. Mize, and those who say it is outright bad such as Suzan St. Maur, who claims that article marketing is bad to the point where she’d rather shoot herself than employ it.

Clearly, there are a number of hot-button opinions on article marketing. For those of you who are scratching your heads and wondering how articles fit into a content marketing schema, read on.

Content Marketing: The Good, The Bad, and the White Hat

Essentially, article marketing is the process of writing articles that are attached to a certain business and then using a third party to market those articles. The main point behind article marketing is twofold. The first is that it allows you to put links back to your site in the biography box – this means that wherever the article is posted, you’ll get a one-way link back to your site. The second is that it provides free content for other web owners to use on their own sites; if your articles are compelling enough, you’ll find that your article may be used all over the Internet, getting you exposure.

This sounds great, and it is – if done correctly. The problem with article marketing is that it can also cause issues with duplicate content – essentially, if the same article gets posted over and over again without an attribution link (which would be syndication not article marketing), it will be flagged. Additionally, many would-be-enterprising content marketers have taken up the nefarious practice of “spinning” – that is, taking the exact same content and rewriting it over and over – to get tons of articles that essentially say the same thing, just in different words.

Putting On the White Hat

We at Content Equals Money wear white hats when it comes to SEO – that is, we play by the rules and don’t try to pull any funny stuff on Google or the other search engines. To this end, we always advocate using unique content that is hard-hitting and informative every time. For our clients, we generally don’t recommend using the traditional article marketing process as it can lead to difficulties down the road.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t believe articles shouldn’t be a cornerstone of your SEO content marketing strategy – quite the opposite, in fact. Articles are great for your site since they show you are a resource of information, and since they can be “evergreen” content (or content that doesn’t need to be updated constantly, like a blog), you can showcase it on your website for a long time.

Articles are also a great way to repurpose content from your blog. Again, a blog needs to be updated on a regular basis, so any hard-hitting information that you put in it will be cycled down and off your blog page in a matter of days or weeks. If you repurpose your blogs into articles, you can create a resource bank that lets you strut your knowledge constantly on your front page.

Articles are a wonderful way to show your audience you know what you’re talking about. Showing the consumer that you’ve got pertinent information on the product or service that you are selling is a great way to build trust. Articles are also great for SEO when incorporated as a resource bank for websites and shared through social media like a blog – just because you aren’t using a traditional article marketing schema doesn’t mean that articles can’t go viral like anything else!

The art of articles is a delicate but potentially profitable one – strut your stuff, show your knowledge, and keep your SEO hat white!