Monday, July 30, 2007

Some notes on an article submitter program

This is really just some notes for a later article and longer web post. (You can tell, because I didn't try to put a catchy title on it.)

1. Sign up with a regular name on a regular domain - don't use a free version at all. This will save you some grief later. The biggest pain with almost all article submitter programs is registering with the article directories - that takes the longest and usually you can't use your "auto fill" feature from the Google Toolbar, as it is using the IE explorer code, a built-in browsing feature of Microsoft.

2. You should keep all your articles as a text file - separate from the others. No, don't write them in MS Word and cut/paste. Word has some nasty little gimcracks which paste over into a text file. If you write in Word, save into a text-only text editor (like NoteTab) and then search/replace for the stupid things you are left with. Or write it as a blog and then page-scrape it, and paste into a text file. You lose the links, but most article directories won't accept links in the body of the article anyway.

3. Submit the title in Title Format (every word is capitalized except common ones). Reason for this is like the first above - some of these article directories will automatically reject your article because of it. And we are cow-towing to the lowest common denominator these days... And while you're at it, don't make this over 100 characters.

4. That said, don't submit your article with page breaks or formatted for text only. The article directories will do that for you. One of the bigger directories won't accept your article if it's formatted that way. (Funny enough, one of the article submission programs I reviewed will only take your article if it is formatted that way... no, it didn't make the short list.)

5. A great article submission program will keep track of the sites you've registered with and will auto-register you with them. Then, when you submit an article, it won't try to submit to directories you haven't registered with. One great thing I found today is this tip: as you find article directories you can't access because "bandwidth exceeded" (can we say: cheap) - just tell that program that these sites are "not registered" and it will ignore them on submitting. Now note, I said great article submission program. I only found this feature on one program I've reviewed.

6. That same program keeps track of what article it submitted to and when - plus enables you do save it as a(n) HTM or PDF file. Very nice. Again - none of the rest do this.

7. The apparent comfortable minimum is about 400 words. While would like to see 700+ word articles, where a limit is set the 400 word mark tends to fill almost all of them. Again, this is tracking lowest common denominators - the slowest ship in the fleet sets the speed. I've seen on many which are shorter, some just over 250. For myself, I often will crank out over 1000 just in getting warmed up. So a 1200 word article could be split into three articles in a series.

8. Your bio needs to fit in under 300 words. God only knows why people elected this teeny-weeny amount, but that's the minimum. And no, don't put any HTML in it. Yes, the better sites allow you to do this - and some allow you both versions - but just skip it. Most article dashboard directories will change any http address into a link. While some allow only a single link, most allow three. And so far, no one's rejected my articles for having two...

Just to be fair, I've gotten a couple of more programs for evaluation - and we'll see...

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Update - extending this bad puppy.

Worked tonight in submitting an article (gosh these programs are slow) after I tweaked the article directory entries to eliminate the ones which were slowing the scene up.

Nice touch: when the program would hang because of "no such email", I'd be able to have it auto-register me and then handle that confirm link in my browser (separate window and program) - then the program could be told to login and would go ahead to post the article.

Now, where I'd screwed up the login earlier (some of these directories won't accept "free" email addresses), I had to start from scratch - but I could correct it while I send the article submitter on to another site.

One interesting thing with this tweaking - while there are well over three hundred directories in this program (and you won't submit every article to each one, they are each niches on their own) when you submit and pull out the ones which have low bandwidth, internal server errors, and php/database problems - you are factually weeding out the ones which are in the "dime a dozen" slot. And believe me, you don't want to mess around with these rank amateur directories.

This particular program also has a Google Page Rank bar at the top, so I can see that I'm really just weeding out some "0"-ranked directories which people are not going to go to in order to find new articles.

I've covered this earlier. There's a long tail of directories as well. If you get the big ones (and there is ample discussion on which ones are really big - logging onto some of them is not worth my particular time, since it has to be done by hand - you will pull in from 50 to 64 percent of the traffic going to article directories. And I'm talking about 20-30 directories.

Now my approach was originally going to be that - and I may get back to that as a test case - but right now all my effort is going into getting the best of these programs tweaked and running right - plus a few dozen articles up and online.

Obviously, if I have to spend a week getting 5 articles published to a couple hundred directories each, will that be the same as getting 10 articles published to 20-30 directories which reach far more people. Don't know. I can take another of these programs, with a separate set of articles and post only to the PR7 and PR6 article directories - which is really the next test of article submission itself.

Here's the idea: I'm starting with two key autoresponder series for different product lines. I have several articles for each already. So I use one to only do the first product line, and the second for the other.

Then we look at them after a few weeks to see 1) how many sign-ups each has, and 2) how many article-links are out there. I submit 5 for the first and 10 for the second. That first one is primarily Article Dashboard directories, and the other is able to sign into these more unique (and higher-ranking) sites.

What really slows down my best program is some of these script add-on's which make the site so "cutting edge". If I could simply post articles on my own RSS feed and have other directories pick them up and post them, I'd be a happy puppy. Right now, I have to do the slogging work of posting one by one - which is why my submitter programs are doing this for me.

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Update 2:

Working with my other main submission program and registering (manually - /sigh/) on the PR 8 - 6 sites. Fascinating to note that these often use only a simple login (not the Article Dashboard email address) and are highly customized - meaning they enable greater user interaction by giving better navigation. People can find great content faster. No surprise that they attract a lot more links and eyeballs.

And, oddly, I've never registered with these programs before, meaning that just by submitting to Article Dashboard sites (although there are quite a few with this high page rank) you will not get all the top sites - and so miss possibly upwards of 50% of the traffic going to article directories.

With this above discovery, we are well on our way to getting this long tail test underway.

There are other variables, such as the opt-in/landing/squeeze page being faulty. However, as I host these landing pages on my own server, I can check server statistics to see whether these are getting hit and from where (generally). I'll probably change the article resource section to offer a free special report/ebook with every signup. That should liven things up.

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update 0731:

I'm no fan of a product called "jetsubmitter". The whole premise of this product is to submit "original" articles to article directories so that you get higher number of links, since search engines won't throw them away. Basically like "Artimis Lite", they rely on three versions of your paragraphs so that they submit different versions - and it is some astronomical amount of combinations before you get something which was close enough that (theoretically) a search engine would throw them out.

But this argument about original content isn't all that vital. The main point is getting the article up and posted in as many places at once. When someone has a favorite article directory, she will search in that directory for similar articles. If your article is there, it will get read. Having several similar articles will confuse readers, meaning that they will drop sales. If they see the same article over and over, it acts like an advertisement - and learning is built on that same premise, of reviewing material over and over and over to retain it.

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More notes:

Article Submitter System (badly named ASSFULL.exe) is another version of Article Submitter. Controls via it's screen shot are the same. Problem is they locked the "try before you buy" version I downloaded, so I would have had to pay $37 to find out I already had that program. Not recommended, since you can get the same program (different name) for free at CNET.

Article Planter - Third tier. Semi-automatic (have to check every page it submits to a site and manually click submit) and no real records of what article it sent where. Calls every article a "profile", which is confusing. Came with about a dozen sites and while it boasted of an "update database", nothing happened on clicking. You have to manually click on the next site to update. As above, I can get the same functionality (without automatic updates) for free. Like the free versions, you have to check to make sure your bio data is included, as many sites don't include it with your article. Doesn't ask for an article summary in the "profile" so you will have to type or copy/paste this in when asked for.

Article Distributor - 2nd or 3rd tier. No way to add any additional sites/directories, except, like Submit Suite, you submit via their website - but you can remove directories yourself. This is as far as I can tell, strictly able to submit to Article Dashboard sites. Visual Basic interface, simple and austere. Runs fast and comes with 280+ directories. Irritatingly, it starts with the MSN homepage. Like Article Submitter (free), you have to nudge it along and so it's slow going - but much faster than manually. But there are other 1st tier programs which do this much easier and with less needed intervention. And there is the annoying self-serving ad they put in every resource box - which is the prime reason I don't use this program (that and their start page). No provision for multiple logins - one login is used for all submissions.

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What I would really like to see is an Article Distributor which is built on the Gecko Engine, or as a Firefox extension, like FireFTP, which runs inside Firefox. This gets away from many of the foibles (and security problems) of the IE browser code. One would at least be able to get the same functionality of Article Distributor or Article Submitter - if not the capabilities of 1st tier programs. Being able to run inside Firefox would also enable a Linux version, which is lacking.

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Update 0802:

Found that my old, free, article submitter program works as good as the newer, more popular one with 1700 addresses. Both make you select the category and click to move on. One is free the other costs $180 or so. The free one comes with around 150 directories and allows you to add more. The other allows you to suggest them - or add them in for "manual" entry. In both cases, you have to knuckle down and register yourself with every directory, anyway.

In the both, you can enter different usernames and passwords. But on the expensive one, you have to enter these for every single dawggone Article Dashboard site. On the free one, you can simply put your default U&P in, then go ahead and login on these sites you had previously registered to.

In the middle ground, my $47 program auto-registers you to over 300 sites. You just have to answer all those emails (more like opening the email, clicking the link, then closing and deleting the email).

Note that on article dashboard directories, if they don't like you, they will say that your account has "already been activated/expired" - meaning that your login email is bogus as far as they're concerned. Try again with an email that is from a non-free, non-web-based location.

There is one more program I'd like to try, while it didn't work for me earlier, it apparently works (on a linux/unix server) in conjunction with the article dashboard script. It will nearly automatically send your article to all the other article dashboard directories. Apparently, it works on some "good old boy" network. But I'll know when I set it up and get it running.
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