Research Summary: Whether articles have (2) or (3) active links in the article [resource box], the CTR (Click Through Rate) is identical according to an exhaustive study completed today.
What we studied: Almost a million unique articles were evaluated in terms of how much traffic they attracted (article views), how many URL’s were in the article body + resource box total (# of URL’s), what the distribution was in terms of which article type was the most popular in terms of how many URL’s were included and finally, what the total CTR is as it relates to the # of URL’s included in the article + resource box (ie: How much traffic did our EzineArticles members receive in URL Clicks as a percentage of their total article views).
I didn’t believe it myself until we triple checked the numbers…that Resource Box URL CTR was identical for both the articles that had (2) or (3) URL’s in them. This is significant considering that on June 1st, 2008 the number of self-serving active links allowed is reduced to (2).
Clearly, (2) URL’s included with each article will yield the best amount of traffic attraction for our members.
It was not only identical, but held true on more than 100k worth of articles compared in both categories leading us to believe it’s true with a high level of confidence.
Next up was the finding that articles submitted to EzineArticles with (1) single URL was the most popular article type with 36.47% of all submissions:
- Because we didn’t begin URL click tracking until June 18th of 2007, we only evaluated the articles from that date through yesterday, May 29th, 2008 for this study. Total # of articles evaluated was in excess of 500,000+.
- Articles evaluated for this study were live articles only and this does not include articles that were not live during this study period (ie: If the article is in problem or suspended status).
We’re not sure why some articles had more than (7) URL’s in them considering that our maximum allowed has been (6) URL’s for many years and we’re researching that further at this time. Most likely it was our editors error in accepting them or we believed the value to the reader was worth allowing the rare exception.
- Updated June 2nd 2008: The articles with 7 URL’s in them were not active; but instead we counted all links (active and not active) in the URL count per article.
- URL CTR is computed as TOTAL clicks received in the study period of time divided by total article views received in the same period.
- Notice that URL CTR falls off at 5 & 6 URL’s included and then falls off even more sharply at 7+ URL’s included.
- We did not evaluate EzinePublisher views against this data yet, but plan to do so in the future.
- This data does not take into consideration what kind of performance your articles may or may not achieve when syndicated by others.
- We did not take into consideration whether URL’s included were self-serving or non-self-serving as we don’t currently track that on a meta-data level.
Behind the scenes here at EzineArticles, we’re very data-driven in our decision making and we discovered that a large number of our article QC rejections (when the 2nd human Editor rejects the acceptance of our 1st human Editor’s article approval) were because of “Article Title Violation.”
Meaning: The article title didn’t get the First Character Capitalized in the majority of cases.
So our developers wrote a new routine that intercepts the article title, detects if the first letter of each word is capitalized or not and if not, automatically Capitalizes the first letter. This subtle change improved many of our Editors QC score by a full percentage point.
A few complaints came in that authors didn’t like that we were automatically capitalizing every letter in their article title… so we’re writing a new rule today that will exclude these words from automatic-first-letter-capitalization:
to, is, in, on, it, and, at, by, a, an
…Because our Editorial Guidelines currently state these do not need to be capitalized.
Question: Are there any other letters or short-words we should add to our list of words used in article titles that should not be auto-first-letter-capitalized?
Article content is article content is article content…until it provides the end-reader with a meaningful distinction.
“Distinction” defined: A discrimination between things as different and distinct. (Princeton.edu)
- A distinction is really about helping your reader to make a personal discovery that they perceive as valuable.
- Your challenge is to deliver multiple distinctions (buckshot approach) because you won’t always know which distinction will resonate/impact with your readers.
- Every word that you use that doesn’t assist with the meaningful distinctions is actually noise or meaningless distinctions. Write your article and then strip it naked until you’re left with the essence of your message.
- Because you’re the expert in your niche, your research prior to writing the article based on client/member feedback should have already helped you frame which distinctions are critically important to your ideal reader.
- Your job is to outline and clearly define what your reader SHOULD and SHOULD NOT pay attention to when it comes to the material you’re presenting.
- Lastly, to knock the ball out of the park, make sure your Resource Box at the bottom of your article body continues the ‘meaningful distinctions’ theme by being highly relevant and useful to your reader. You do this by offering them something (example: a free relevant report) rather than grandstanding about your greatness.
How do you ensure that you add meaningful distinctions in your articles?
Today our team is off observing Memorial Day… a US holiday that shows reverence for the fallen hero’s of our men & women in every military branch. It’s through their bravery & courage that we have our freedom.
We’re trying a Social Proof experiment on our home page in the left navigation that refreshes once a minute.
It shows you who just signed up and which city & country they are from (but doesn’t disclose who they are or any personally identifiable data):
What do you think of this?
Today after much internal discussion and reviewing user complaints, we’ve made the decision to tighten down on anchor text link length abuse.
The EzineArticles editorial guidelines section 2.f.xii. has been updated:
“We do not allow articles which have strategic keyword anchor text links in the body to your domain that do not add informational value to the article. Any use of anchored text links to websites that you own should add value to the article topic rather than stand out as an obvious abuse of anchored text link. The goal with this policy is to be a good net citizen by only allowing articles that add value with the anchored text links rather than for pure SEO reasons. Please limit your anchor text link length to 3 words.“
The sentence in blue is the change. Prior to this, there was no anchor text link length guideline.
This is a quality “guideline” and not a hardfast rule. That means we may allow a few more words in the anchor text link length if our editor feels that the quality, originality, and value of the article content warrants the exception.
The end goal with this change is to prevent spammy-looking Resource Boxes. A handful of members had more than half their resource box linked up in anchored text links (yeah, like entire multiple sentences) and that’s abusive in our opinion.
First, a definition: Your “Landing Page” is where the URL in your Resource Box goes to. It’s either to your home page or deep within your site.
There’s some expert author behavior that I just don’t understand and I thought I’d take a moment to point out what they are doing to help everyone see what ‘not to do’.
Example #1 I’m reading an article on Forex (currency trading) and the links in the resource box goes to body building and lean abs secrets. WTH? (What The Heck!)
What they should do instead: Only include links in your Resource Box to niche-related content. Changing niche topics on your reader BREAKS TRUST instantly.
Example #2 I’m reading an article on the benefits of hot yoga and the link in the resource box goes to a deep link of the exact same article on the authors website. WTH? Why would I as a user/reader want to go to re-read the article I just read. This makes no sense and now I don’t trust the writer to be an expert of any kind… especially article marketing.
What they should do instead: Never link to a copy of the article you just shared with your reader. Instead, funnel that reader into your site to find more content or products/services related to your expertise.
Example #3 I’m reading an article on DJ’ing and as I click on the resource box links, the page I’m taken to is in 100% Japanese language. WTH? If I’m reading an English article, I expect to find an English website when I click on any Resource Box link.
What they should do instead: The author should only send their readers to English versions of their website if they are going to write articles in English.
Other things to avoid when thinking about which URL to include in your Resource Box:
- Sending your article readers to a squeeze page with no other content or outbound links on the page is rude. Instead, send them to a content rich website of unique content and have a sign up form for them to join your list.
- Sending your article readers to a one page site with a few sentences of content than a big blue link saying to click me for whatever affiliate products they are pitching. No trust is built by this bummer of an approach.
- Sending your article readers to a page that has 90% ads and 10% content or any MFA (Made For AdSense) templated site. This type of site again builds no trust with the reader and wastes your hard work in writing quality original articles to attract valuable traffic.
Do you see the landing page/resource box theme? Use your landing page URL to continue the trust building that you started with by offering your prospect universe your quality article content.
Wanted to thank one of our partners for a moment who helped fill a gap until we could fill it with our own technology.
I’m talking about the free email training course we offered here that is hosted by our friends @ AWeber until later today when we cut over to our highly customized in-house system.
About 71% of our new EzineArticles members sign up for the free training that we’ve provided on the signup page. We’ve always hosted this with our own internal systems, but bounce handling was a serious concern until now.
A month ago, we upgraded our email list servers with an enterprise feature called “triggered & sequential” that allows us to duplicate the AWeber experience on the same platform that we already deliver millions of new article email alerts to our permission-based members… so we keep the reporting and control in-house and we have full hard bounce management to keep deliverability high (It’s evil to continue to email to addresses that bounce back hard undeliverable and if not managed right, leads to becoming blocked).
In conclusion, we’re not an ESP (Email Service Provider) for hire, but AWeber is and I’d highly recommend them.
Jill (a Publisher) writes:
Have a situation with an author who accused us of not including his link (when article posted to our blog, link was not clickable so my assistant tried to fix it and the author implied that we purposely removed his link)
If an author submits an article and in their author paragraph chooses to use html instead of a straight “http://www.xxx.com” link and then when someone cuts and pastes the article, the html does not translate to the blog and the link is no longer clickable or even distinguishable, is the person who uses the article responsible to go back and fix the link for the author to make it clickable?
(certain html links lose their clickability when transferred into an email too)
Chris Knight Responds:
- It’s your responsibility Jill as the publisher to respect the Publisher TOS and make all links active, regardless as to whether they are anchored text links or regular http:// full URL’s.
- We’ve already made this easy for Publishers by the fact that we provide an HTML version of every article in the EzinePublisher section of the Article Tools found in the upper right corner of every article.
- To Authors who only include anchored text links: What are you thinking? Stop that. Include one full http://Your-Company-Name.com/ and optionally one anchored text link. To only include anchored text links is not wise at all.
- To Publishers of ASCII TEXT email newsletters who reprint EzineArticles content: We’d appreciate it if you’d respect our members content by including the full http:// URL next to the words they anchored up. You know it’s the right thing to do so please do it.
Anyone else have comments?
We’re testing a new concept to solve a problem that can’t easily be solved:
EzineArticles has ~100k expert authors who know and understand what EzineArticles is, but in any given day, we’ll have 100k users before the sun rises who don’t know or understand what EzineArticles is?
ie: We don’t have a very consumer-friendly facing brand that encourages repeat visits or brand loyalty by way of the EzineArticles name.
So we came up with this ambitious idea to theme-up all 569 categories with an EzineArticles logo that included elements of the niche that those articles will be found in. This way a user might perceive that the logo and the theme match visually…and perhaps they may even start to think of EzineArticles as an online magaZINE for the niche they are viewing articles on.
Some examples include:
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