In the past, I used to submit lots of articles to directories to build backlinks. That all changed when the Penguin Update hit. While it is still worth doing this occasionally, I'm really cutting down on this practice of article marketing -- and not just because it's less beneficial for SEO than it used to be.
I think a much better approach is to do two things with the quality content that you would normally use for articles. Firstly, use it in guest blogging campaigns. This is a form of backlink building that is still very powerful (although I suspect this will wane in time because it's so popular).
Secondly, the vast majority of your good writing should be placed on your own blog. This is because each post gives you another opportunity to snag some more "long tail keyword" traffic. Consequently your visitor numbers will rise slowly but inexorably. And with lots of great stuff on your blog, there's an increased chance you'll draw those all important natural links.
Then there's the fact that since your blog content is found nowhere else, Google definitely knows it's yours. If you use it for article marketing, however, it's more likely to get ripped off by others, and it will be harder to prove you were the person who wrote it. It can also be dispiriting when you see people using articles and not including the links back to your site as they are supposed to.
There's also a real confidence boost that comes from seeing all that content up there on your blog. It's quite amazing how much you can actually write. When you realize this, you are motivated to do even more blogging. But if you've spread a lot of that material around the web, you don't get that sense of achievement.
With article marketing, however, your content is all over the place. It can help to lift your profile and get your name more widely known, of course. But people will only see one or two articles at a time so the effect is diluted. However, if you have all that quality content on one place in a blog, it's far more impressive to people who visit it. They can tell that you really know what you're on about. So it's an excellent way of building authority in the eyes of your readers.
One consequence of the latest Google algorithm changes is the diminishing returns from article marketing. Google Panda hit a lot of the article directories, including some of the really big ones, very hard. Then came Google Penguin, which targeted unnatural link profiles with too much of the same anchor text (among other things). Such a mistake was very easy to make if you used article marketing heavily.
That said, I think it's still worth writing and submitting a few articles, particularly to quality directories. But you must make sure that they are really good, unique articles of a decent length (at least 500 words). Don't make them a rehash of other stuff you have submitted elsewhere.
And don't keep using the same or similar anchor text in your author bio-box links. Vary it, while ensuring that it still relates to your site and the article content. Also, avoid generic keyword anchor text that is reminiscent of spam-laden niches like "make money online".
Using your website title or brand keywords in the anchor text is fine. That's clearly not an attempt to manipulate the rankings. And it's a good idea to occasionally not use any anchor text at all.
And make sure that most, or all, of the links to your site aren't coming back from such articles. It's important to have a nice spread of different locations for them.
If you do these things you'll have a much more natural link profile. And that's very important for SEO these days.
Nowadays, because of Google cracking down on unnatural link profiles, building links to your websites is a lot more risky than it used to be. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do some of it, though. A few articles here and there, for example, could still be helpful. You just have to make sure they're good quality, unique articles submitted to directories with decent page rank. And you should have lots of variety in your anchor text in your author bio-box links. Also, it's a good idea to just not use any anchor text at all occasionally. Now a lot of website owners pay SEO companies or individual freelancers to build such links to their sites. But doing this carries inherent risks.Firstly, they may be using spammy techniques such as article spinning, which could harm your site. Also, many of these companies offer deals in which you can buy, say, 20 articles all at once. Now if you purchased such a package there'd be a strong chance that such a number of links appearing suddenly would result in some kind of penalty from Google. If you did suffer as a result of using such services, you'd have to get those links removed somehow. It's highly unlikely you'd be able to get the people who submitted them to remove them -- at least not for free. So you'd probably have to hand over money to a company that specialized in bad link removal.
Either way, it would cost you. However, if you were to do all of the article writing and submission yourself, there'd be a couple of advantages. Firstly, you could make sure that those articles were of a good quality and in directories that were well regarded by the search engines. And there'd be no way that you'd be able to overdo it, unless you devoted several hours a day, every day, to the task for a couple of weeks non-stop. And in the rare event that this technique were to backfire on you and you needed to remove those links, you'd know exactly where they all were. So you could just go back to those directories, log in and remove them.You'd be back to square one, of course, and would need to figure out how best to continue with your SEO efforts. But at least you wouldn't have had to fork out any money to neutralize the issue.
There has been a lot of talk about this latest Google update, dubbed "Penguin". Much of it had to do with over-optimization
. Countless websites suffered a massive and swift drop in search engine traffic.Clearly, many webmasters feel that they were unfairly punished. I can certainly sympathize with them, but I do see what Google was trying to achieve with this.One of my niche websites was hit (or at least I think it was -- you never can be entirely sure with search engines!). I was angry and disappointed at first but on second thoughts I realized that I was definitely over-optimizing it.Firstly, I had several pages that had a common two word keyword phrase in the titles. Even though the content on each page was unique and different, this was a big no-no!
That was pretty dumb in retrospect but I chose to include those words because they did reflect the purpose of the pages, and I was in a bit of a rush to build the site. Secondly, I'd done a lot of article marketing for that website. I must have submitted about 25-30 articles
in the last several months. These were all unique, and not "spun". I did vary the anchor text, but in retrospect I didn't do this nearly enough. I didn't endlessly repeat exact keyword phrases but I did use some words over and over again, even if they were in different combinations.Thirdly, I didn't pay enough attention to the pages themselves. While they certainly had some useful and relevant information on them they
were pretty general in nature. I should have spruced them up more and made them punchier, more specific and informative. I was always intending to do this eventually, but basically became fixated on getting lots of article backlinks because they really did seem to work well and my traffic was rising steadily.
I wasn't trying to trick Google, but I was certainly being way too overzealous with certain techniques. Clearly, there was an imbalance between the amount of work I'd put into the on-site content, and my backlink building. Google picked this up and slapped me for it.It's been a good lesson. Basically, the main thing to remember is to keep focusing on the content of your site. As the search giant keeps saying, build sites for people, not search engines. So now I'm going to pretty much forget link-building -- particularly via article marketing -- for a long while. Instead I'll be putting almost all my effort into writing lots of quality content for my websites and blogs.
One place you can get a powerful backlink to your own website is the revenue sharing site Triond
. It's like an article directory, but you don't put the links in an author bio-box. You can put them in the body of the article, and they are "dofollow" so they do pass on search engine juice.Triond has various sub-sites that all have their own unique domains. One of these, Trifter, looks like a good place to submit something if you are seeking geo-specific traffic. It's the place for travel related articles, and there's a section for Australia. Obviously, submitting something there would be most appropriate if you have a specifically location-oriented website such as an entertainment guide for a city or town. But other kinds of websites would still benefit.You've just got to find a local angle. So, say you have a website for a surf shop. You could write an article about all the best surf beaches in that city.The trick is to include information that is good, unique and relevant, and not just make your article a shameless puff piece. That way you're offering the reader something worthwhile, and the backlink you include is appropriate even if it isn't demonstrably useful.
I've just done another search for Aussie article directories
and found some more. One of them was intriguing in that it had categories for each Australian state. This is unusual. I certainly haven't seen any local (or international) article directories categorized in this way.This particular directory is very new, with hardly any content
. However it is hosted within Australia and is already ranking pretty well
. So I suspect it will grow into a good local directory. And I think that it might particularly good for webmasters and business owners who are keen to get traffic in a particular state or city, rather than the whole country. The reason, of course, is that state by state categorization.
One thing I have discovered from my experience with article marketing is that it's easier to compete if you are writing about a niche that's not already saturated. Of course it's common sense that this would be the case. But it's easy to forget.The problem is to find out just what proportion of articles are in the niche you want to write about. It's just not something that is immediately obvious. You can look through the numbers of articles submitted to each category on the main pages of many directories, if they include that information.This is useful, but a graph is better. That's why this article directory is worth looking at. In the bottom right hand corner of the main page it actually has a graph that breaks down the numbers of articles in each category. Of course these proportions would vary between directories. Still, it gives a pretty good rough guide that I think would hold true for a lot of them.
I have often used article writing to promote my various sites and blogs. It definitely works well - and will continue to do so.
Howver, it does take time. So, for people who want to outsource this task, here's an Australian site to check out