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Will My Website Rank #1 With Articles?

July 28, 2010
Jill,

Might I bother you with a question?

Like many others in small businesses, I am trying to figure out whose advice and expertise to trust, what we can do on our own, and what we ought to outsource, etc.Photo Credit: evelynishere

I spoke to someone who is offering to write 20 articles ($100 apiece, which he promises me is a deal) and who also wants an additional fee to post them on the site and integrate them with the content.

He and I have had several conversations with me being very skeptical and telling him this outright, that no one can promise that your site will rank on the first page. (I learned that from you, and am hoping I am still right?!) I also have learned from you that what I get on a search engine results page will vary from what you and others get, depending on our recent search history.

So my question here is: Are articles a smart and strategic way to invest our money? Is this person being completely honest in saying we "will rank on page 1" with their articles?

Thanks so much,

Andrea

++Jill's Response++

Hi Andrea,

It all depends on which keywords the guy is saying he can promise to rank for. I can't imagine he'd get you to rank for something like "gift baskets" by writing articles. But he might be able to get you to rank for "buying a gift basket full of fresh fruit" with an article.

Articles on your site can be helpful if they're somehow so remarkable that they can draw links when others like them. (Assuming someone gets the word out to those others so they know your articles exist.) And they can also bring in some decent "long tail traffic," which means people using long phrases such as the one I mentioned above.

The hard part, of course, is actually writing articles that are that remarkable. Most articles that you'll get will just be the same old regurgitated stuff that has already been said a million times. What you want to pay for, if you want to get into article marketing, is the creative ideas more than the actual writing. That's what you'll find to be the most valuable.

Best,

Jill

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Jill Whalen is an SEO consultant and CEO of High Rankings, a Boston SEO company.

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Post Comment

 Jan Chilton said:
I think I'd like to add also that $100 per article is kind of ridiculous. I've paid, and had my clients pay, some really good freelance journalists for blog articles that are 4-6 paragraphs long, and usually about $20 per article is more than enough to pay. I've paid as little as $10 and as much as $25, but not anymore than that. Maybe if it were a really long article I'd consider going up to $30 or so. If they are willing to pay $100, I'll write it myself and promote it too! LOL!

If he comes back with the claim that he's submitting the article to 100 websites or some such nonsense, then that isn't going to do anything but make it even worse duplicate content. Adding LINKS to the article is good...broadcasting the article everywhere is not so good. Putting a link on Facebook, Buzz, Delicious, Digg, any blogs that you can, etc is the best way to promote it. I have wonderful results with Stumbleupon.com myself.
 David Leonhardt said:
Good answer, it is the creativity you pay for, not the "text". That can come in the form of the idea for the article, but it can also come in the way of how the article is written. 100 writers can write on the same topic, let's say "best items to include in a gift basket" (to continue the theme), and 99 will regurgitate the same-old, same-old (maybe a half-a-dozen of them will write it well, and one of them might be written in a truly novel fashion, perhaps with a running gag or a celebrity true-story enhancing it so that it is memorable and link-worthy.

Price points are all over the map. $100 is a lot to pay when so many people are offering perfectly good regurgitation for $5 offshore ($20 if you want the grammar to resemble a known language). For something truly creative, $100 id not a bad price. Some charge less, many charge more. For my money, I would rather pay for one truly remarkable article than pay the same for 20 marvels of regurgitation.
 Jan said:
It's also two different things depending on whether the article is an "opinion piece" such as the gift basket thing, or a "fact piece" such as a resort, an insurance article, or more of a "how-to". Writing about attractions in Myrtle Beach requires some pretty extensive research. That is worth a whole lot more than someone's off-hand knowledge about making a cute gift basket. It would definitely depend on what the website was about and what kind of article it was.

Still $100 is pretty steep.
 stacy said:
Why not put an ad on your site offering $100 for articles upon publication? You'll get a larger talent pool contributing to your site, you can pick items that fit your business and the keywords you want to emphasize, and you get to see the articles before you pay for them. Then you can put your guidelines in print so you'll (hopefully) get the quality and length you want, too. Or, you can pay per word. So you can have a variety of article lengths to choose from. (Plus, if you cut three 'graphs because you don't like them, you only pay for what you print.) You're still paying for articles but you're getting more bang for your buck.
 Jan said:
The only problem I foresee with Stacy's idea is that you would get people sending you articles that were not original. It's hard to be sure they aren't going to do that anyway...but if you are talking to the writer and have a specific subject in mind, it would be harder for them to fudge on it.

I've had a lady write 2 articles for my blogs for free if I allow her to include her bio and link at the end of the article. Her link is to a good website related to real estate so I don't mind a bit. She gets the link and I get the content...and even work links into it to my own stuff. I'm thrilled everytime she contacts me. She researches and will write an article about homeowner's insurance or just about anything I need. So far it's been great.
 Steve Watson said:
If you decide to try this guy, do just that - try him with just one article to start. A 20 article commitment is too risky. If he balks at doing one, forget him. A legitimate writer will have a track record and will give you examples, references and/or do one to prove his worth.
 Helen Gallagher said:
I think you obviously don't trust him and you're right not to! If I were charging for articles I think i'd charge about £10 per article and do 5 to start with. Or I'd do them for a link to my website (which is to do with holiday accommodation so obviously not relevant to this discussion, not spamming, promise!). $100 is steep and I don't like that he promised to get you on page 1. That's nonsense.
 Tom Gray said:
I think that too often we neglect to ask for references. Who are 3 customers who bought his article package? What were their results? Would they purchase his services again (or have they?)? The nice thing about people who promise absolutes is that you can ask them specifically for whom they've already delivered those absolutes.
 J.M. Lacey said:
As a professional writer, it's important that I deliver quality to my customers. In writing copy for Web sites, it's more than simply knowing my client's business. I have to understand my client's goals (financial and otherwise), have knowledge of the client's competition, and have a sense of my client's own passion in his/her business. I also have studied and understand SEO so that I am able to assist my clients appropriately. I never promise to get my client to the top of the page since other things are a factor in this. With that said, the most important factor is content. Without good, quality content, the site is never found. Pictures say nothing in searches, but content is key. I charge my clients based on the company (if the writing required is technical, for example), the number of pages, and the amount of content. Most sites require short paragraphs (200 - 300 words) per page since we live in a fast-paced market. Although these are not "articles," it is content.

If the articles this person is charging $100 for run about 100 words in length, that is an appropriate amount to charge. With that said, you should always check references. On my Web site, I include articles and a list of my clients and testimonials. You never want to hire a writer without seeing samples of his/her work. And I agree with Tom. If this writer is promising results, you need to check those sites and check with his clients. And do find out if he is a work-for-hire (meaning all the work he does for you belongs to YOU) or if he reserves rights to the content (meaning he can sell the work he did for you to someone else). I am a work-for-hire for my clients.

Good writing is what draws people through your door, or to your Web site. We buy products because we're influenced by what we're told, followed by what we see. Quality writing from professional writers comes with a price. Web sites and marketing are investments. Just make sure you're investing with the right people.