I had read all of the articles and special reports. Content was the way to go. Articles are not only popular, but they stay around for years. Constantly drawing a stream of qualified visitors to your site.
I had even tried them a few times, and they had worked pretty well. Until that one time...
I had decided to use Yahoo groups to publish my article. There are several excellent article announce groups. Each person on the group has requested to receive articles via email (or on the web). They want the articles and they usually want them on a specific topic or set of topics.
So I wrote an article. It was about following business trends. Perhaps you've even read it. It's out there, on the major article bank sites and was posted on several groups.
So I used Yahoo groups to send them out. I've had an email account there for some time, as well as having used other parts of their services. I even sent it out to the groups from my free yahoo email account. And that's when the trouble began...
Within 2 hours I had already received a half-dozen warnings accusing me of the dirty 4 lettered S word. I tried to explain to these people why they were getting my article and how they could stop (if they wanted) but it didn't help. Most of the time I wasn't even dealing with people, just a cheap set of automated filtering tools designed to do nothing more than permanently censor certain words. Many of these systems automatically report suspects to their ISP without worrying about false positives.
The article wasn't even an advertisement. It didn't even look like spam if they had bothered to open it up. It was a small lesson in following business trends and is even available here.
On Monday I found my Yahoo account had been entirely deactivated. It remains that way to this day. I've sent multiple emails to customer service, to no avail. They simply ignore them, never bothering to even let me know they got my message. I find it ironic how such a system allows for blatant misuse. You could, literally, get anyone's account pulled with just an accusation. A very knee-jerk reaction.
Never-the-less. Complaining about it isn't going to help. Instead, I've put together some tools and techniques to help you avoid this same fate.
Step 1 - Check your messages first.
Some words attract more attention that others. Most of these are commerce related. Take a trip to: http://wordcheck.ibasics.biz
And use the word checker. While it's more strict than most filters, it can be a real eye-opener. Don't change your entire article, just try to rephrase what you can. Focus especially on the first 10%, last 10% and the subject of your message. Never use a spam word in your subject line. Word checking is crucial, as almost all filtering programs use rule-based systems that assign points to each rule. If you get too high of a point value then you're trashed. Each admin can set their own default point threshold, so you need to make sure your messages have the lowest score possible.
This utility will also help you cut down on a lot of duplicate words. In one article I had used the word "business" more than 10 times. Only 2 of them were actually needed.
A thesaurus can be very useful here. Take a trip to: http://www.dictionary.com. Use it to find synonyms for those tricky words.
After running your messages thru a word checker run them thru an address that is actually being filtered.
You can test for this by downloading, and sending yourself a copy of: http://wordcheck.ibasics.biz/wordlist.txt
Example: I have multiple accounts. I can send from one account to another that I know is filtered. If the message gets thru, then I know it's likely to pass thru others as well. As a sideline, this also helps to check that the formatting is correct. Sometimes line wraps will get distorted... sending it to yourself first can fix this beforehand.
Sitesell also has a utility that's become quite popular. Send your test mails to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Be careful, however, that you put the word TEST as the first word in the subject -- and make sure it is capitalized. Otherwise, the system will delete it. After "TEST" put the actual subject to test it as well.
Step 2 - Research the group.
Once your messages have been tested, it's time to start researching the group. Obviously you'd never want to send an article to a group that doesn't want it. Hopefully you'd never get thru moderation, but if you did... you'd probably get nailed for it. An easy way to do this is to look at those that have been approved in the past and compare them with your own.
Once you know the group will approve of your article, take a look at the messages list before sending anything. How many posts have been sent in the last month? If it's a dead list then there's a good possibility that people on the list will have forgotten about joining. This means that they've probably already removed the list from their whitelist and might even consider your message an unwanted intrusion.
Once you know that a group is active and relevant, it's time to progress on to step 3.
Step 3 - Test it.
Send a test message to the group. Make this as spam-free as possible. Write a test article if you have to. I suggest using a service like hotmail or yahoo, as losing that won't set you back very far.
Watch the groups you've sent it to in order to find out how quick moderation is. If it takes a week to get posted, ask yourself whether the time lag is worth it. You wouldn't want to write an article about a current event if it's not going to be current by the time it gets out. This'll also help you know if your article is truly relevant. If it never gets posted then you know there's probably a reason... so you can eliminate it from your send list.
Also test to see if you're accused of sending junk. Find out where these people have subscribed and let the group owner/moderator know. Chances are, if the group is active enough, others are having this problem too. Ask around...one bad subscriber can ruin the whole darn bunch.
Step 4 - The rest of the story
Once you've tested it then add another email address to your Yahoo account. Make this address less vulnerable by using an ISP or host that's ran by intelligent people with a track-record of listening to their customers. That'll prevent you from having your account locked or removed because of false accusations.
I really hope this helps someone out there avoid some of the pitfalls of posting your articles on email-based groups.
It's very frustrating to know that you've done nothing wrong but are getting treated like a criminal just because of other people's mistakes.
Best of luck to you!
Aaron Colman helps you create results on the net, and specializes in web design and custom script work. My eCourse - Learn Mastering Internet Lead Generation at http://www.ibasics.biz/leads
Aaron has also provided the following list of sources where you can publish your articles (as of April 21, 2004):
Yahoo groups (with atleast 100 subscribers):
Topica (with at least 100 subscribers):
Sites that you can post on:
Tip from Kev: If you're submitting your articles to these or any other locations without using an article submission tool (i.e., if you do it by hand), then be sure to send them to the sites with the highest page rank. And also make sure your article includes a link back to your web site. This will help to establish a higher ranking for you.
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