content marketing vs article marketing apples and oranges

I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter lately about the difference between article marketing and content marketing. Admittedly, for a while there it all sounded the same — until I listened more closely. That’s when I realized that what we were all talking about was not at all the same thing. I was talking about content marketing, and others were talking about article marketing. So what the heck is the difference?

First, lets define “content.”

What is Content?

Content is Web copy, and it refers to the words on a website, in an email, or in any other form of online marketing communications that encourage users to take a desired action (aka: convert) – pick up the phone, register, subscribe, download, or buy a product or service.

Now you might say that sounds just like article marketing. Close, but no. The simplest way to differentiate the two is to say that:

1.  Content marketing refer to the web pages on your site — your products and services pages, your blog, your FAQs.

2.  Article marketing on the other hand is off-site — it’s content that has been written to live elsewhere on the Web and hopefully link back to your site.

Content marketing is about generating targeted traffic – not just top rankings in SERPs. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it, a number 1 ranking in Google, even if it’s for hundreds of keywords, is worthless unless the page can convert.

Online businesses (or offline businesses that have an online presence) continue to make the same conversion-killing mistake: they drive traffic to their website (with article marketing) before prepping it with web copy (content) that converts.

Jakob Nielsen, usability engineer and author of Designing Web Usability, and other books, wrote, “Words are usually the main money-makers on a website. Better writing is probably the single most important improvement you can make to your site.”

Low-quality vs High-quality Content

In early 2011, Google finally began to target and remove “low quality” content from the search results, primarily targeting content farms – which is why the algorithm update was originally called Farmer. Content farms employ hundreds of low-cost, inexperienced writers who have little to no expertise in the topic area they’re assigned to write about.

Link building guru and pioneer, Eric Ward, said, “…content farms are good for the web. I don’t mean good as in you should be using them as part of your linking strategy. Not at all. Link building via content farming is a bad strategy. What I mean by “good” is content farms ultimately help the engines figure what can’t be trusted.”

Article marketing is not content marketing. Link building is not content marketing. True, the proper use of content marketing will generate inbound links, naturally. But the sole purpose of the content is to engage and convert, not to link and rank in SERPs. Content marketing writers (aka SEO copywriters) create useful niche-specific information to share with niche-specific audiences. They help Joe Smith become known within his community as the go-to person in his field, whether he’s a cosmetic dentist, a florist or a mechanic.

There is a distinct difference between “content marketing” and “article marketing.”

Do you have experience with article or content marketing you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! Check back with us soon to read another in-depth content marketing example.