Best Article Directories for SEO
A good way to improve your site's off site optimization is to submit quality, informative articles including a link or two back to your site to various article directories. While some directories allow you to include a link in the body of your article, most don't, and will only allow one in the author bio-box. This is still valuable. (And here's a great ebook that explains the whole process very thoroughly.)
This used to be an extremely effective method, but it's not nearly as powerful now. That said, it's still worth doing as long as you don't overdo it. My advice now, in mid 2012, would be to only do a few articles, then concentrate much more on adding quality content to your site in the form of a blog. And whatever you do, always write and submit your own articles. Never "spin" them. And vary your backlink anchor text a lot.
Some webmasters use articles shamelessly promoting their websites and/or services. This is not recommended. Firstly, this might result in your contribution getting denied. But even if it doesn't, it's still a bad strategy.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, people usually searching the article directories (or running Google searches including the keyword "article") are usually looking for information. If they see that the one they've found is nothing more than an extended advertisement, they will tend to look elsewhere.
Secondly, one of the main reasons for submitting your articles to these directories is so that other webmasters will use them on their sites, including the bio-box link (which is a condition of the use). Webmasters are very unlikely to publish what is basically an ad for another, competing, website on theirs. Needless to say, there's no point in helping to promote the competition.
They will, however, publish useful, more generalized information that their readers will appreciate, accepting that a link to a competitor in the bio-box as the price they pay for the content. And it's those links that help you, the writer, since some of the people reading your work reproduced on other sites will click on them and view your site. Also, they go into Google's calculation of the quality and relevance of your site and improve its SEO. If you do want to write articles overtly promoting your services, then there are numerous online press release directories you can submit to.
But back to the article directories: Three of the most well known are Ezine Articles, Go Articles and Idea Marketers.
Ezine Articles is perhaps the best for SEO purposes. However, it does take quite a while for the editors to review and approve your submissions, particularly if you have only just joined. Once you have had 10 articles approved, the process speeds up considerably. It is still quite slow, though.
Go Articles is quicker. Your articles go live more or less straightaway. Same with Idea Marketers.
If you have an Australia-oriented site that you want to promote with this method these directories are still great, since they have so much content and are well respected by Google. That said, there are some local directories that are worth considering, and will grow in influence over time. The list includes Perth Article Directory, Australian Articles, Geo Article, Pty Ltd, News Articles, Info-Link, Go Articles Australia (seemingly not affiliated with the one mentioned above), Biz Directory Articles, The Repozitory, iArticles, Australian Article Directory, Australian Link Directory, Australian Online Businesses, Australian Sites, Advertising Articles, DirectoryM, Companies Directory, Site Review and Article Express.
Of course there are many other good directories that are easily found through search engines. As well, there are sites that are similar in nature but can't strictly be defined as article directories. They are still great for building content, backlinks and credibility. The best ones include Zimbio, Hub Pages, Squidoo, Gather, Infobarrel, Bukisa, and Qondio. (Note: Bukisa is now nofollow. And HubPages only becomes dofollow after you've reached a certain usage level.)
There's another variation on article marketing that is also effective. That is writing guest posts for established blogs in your niche. These are pretty easy to find. Just search for terms such as "guest bloggers" and "write for us" along with your chosen keywords and you'll soon find some great places to contribute your thoughts.
Guest posting is a mutually beneficial activity. The established blogger gets some good, fresh, relevant content for free. And you get some exposure, credibility and that all important backlink to your blog or site.
Here are a couple of examples of blogs that you can write guest posts for. And there are a few lists around, like this one. So, you'll never run out of these opportunities. (Though it should be remembered that - just as with other link building techniques - you shouldn't overdo it. While it does work, it seems that Google is starting to devalue the SEO effect of guest posting. It's still best to create your own compelling content on your own site and pull links in from other blogs naturally and organically.)
When submitting your work to the sites listed above and others like them, remember to use your chosen keywords in the titles. Put the most important ones at the front of the title if possible. And you should also put your main keyword a couple of times in the first paragraph. Sprinkle it through the rest of the article body, but don't overdo it.
Articles are also very useful for on-site optimization, since Google just loves informative, unique content. So make sure that you use only your own words on your site. Using the same article there and in an article directory is not recommended. However, if you are going to do this, then publish it on your site first. Then give it a couple of weeks before submitting it elsewhere. Do that, and it will be indexed on your site first, and the article directory will suffer the "duplicate content" penalty (which is not as harsh as it sounds; it just means the copy will be filtered out of search results, or - more likely - appear lower on the list). Whatever you do, don't write and submit an article to a directory, then publish it unaltered on your site. You'll only be penalizing yourself.
Ultimately, the best approach is to write unique content for your own site or blog, and unique content for submission to article directories.