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I've submitted articles with varying degrees of success and I don't really understand why one article could be viewed 800 times and used 5 times, while another article with far fewer views could be used 9 times.
Does anybody have any ideas about what really works in this regard, and have any techniques that will lead to more articles being used?
Do you want your article read?
Do you want your article republished?
Do you want visitors resulting from the article?
Do you want business resulting from your article?
Do you want return on investment?
Before looking at techniques to achieve success, you need to be clear on how you will define success - and how you will know when you have it. In a measurable form.
And if this involves giving away your creation, you need to define those 'successes' in comparison with not giving away the article; eg publishing it on your own site.
You cannot ignore the question of whether it is 'worthwhile'; how can it be a success at all if it is not 'worthwhile'?
But it has a catchy title on a hot niche topic.
So if you are just looking for links, I'd say concern yourself with the implied topic and opening hook. Apparently a lot of webmasters don't look beyond that. Quality links on the other hand...
Also look for forums in your niche that have a section for uploading reprintable articles. I have found this to be helpful in getting my articles picked up as well.
writing about topics people with websites will be interested in publishing.
I really think this is the key here. The web is really no different than a magazine or newspaper that utilizes outside freelance writer's content. Either the articles are well written and appeal to that publication's base of readers or it doesn't. If it does and is well written a freelance writer will typically be paid for the work and it will be published.
Maybe go out to the sites that have published your articles and write the webmaster and ask what types of articles they typically like to see and if you wrote more like that would they be interested. Do this enough times with enough sites and you will be have plenty of published articles with links coming back.
Getting quality one way back links out of article submissions to article banks is still relevant in my opinion. My clients are vastly benefited out of this exercise in improving their search engine ranks.
I have seen strange sites/blogs using my articles and feels good as well. :)
Let me add here that I have also noticed that if you add someone's articles to your site (as I have quite a few) and that page doesn't have any PR untill after 3-4 Pr updates where as rest of the site had a decent PR in just 1-2 Updates. This is strange.
Of course, there are those who opine that article submission has outlived its usefulness
Do the great wise ones of the land of "they" have another suggestion of things that work better than articles for building incoming links?
I was told by a consultant I know and respect that said the simplest answer is the typically the best answer. To me this is a pretty simple strategy and while I am sure you will find plenty of new fancy techniques I will stick with "the simple answer is the best answer strategy". It has worked pretty well for me.