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A Better Approach to Article Marketing

Posted on July 03, 2007 by Steven Bradley

Guest post by Steven Bradley of TheVanBlog

You’ve probably come across the idea of building links through article marketing. You write an article with a bio that links back to your site and maybe even add a link of two back to some of your pages in the article itself. You submit your article to several of the many article directory sites that exist and instant link back to your site. Over the next few days your article is downloaded by site owners looking for content and more links are out there pointing to your site. Sounds great in theory and at one time it really did work this way. Unfortunately this tactic no longer works as good as it sounds. Fortunately there’s a better way to do article marketing.

Why submitting to article directories doesn’t work

First let’s take a look at why submitting to article directories no longer works. Most article directories are not discriminating in what they accept. The majority tend to be filled with very thin content that often has bad wrong. Most of the sites that eventually download your article are low quality sites filled with other low quality articles from the same directories. While there are certainly some quality articles in the directories and some quality sites downloading them both are few and far between.

Now I know you wouldn’t write a bad article and because your article is good it gets downloaded quite a few times. Still most of the sites it ends up on will be low quality. And when search engines begin to find the pages with your articles they notice those pages are showing duplicate content. After all the content is the same on each of those pages. It’s your article.

So the result of your article submission is you have some links from pages that are considered duplicate content sitting on mostly low quality sites. How might a search engine see those links?

You may know that Google has two indexes. Their main index and a supplemental index. How web pages end up in the supplemental index isn’t completely clear, but many, myself included, believe that duplicate content is at least part of the reason why a page goes supplemental. Close to a year ago most of the pages of my blog went supplemental due to an issue with the way Google spiders WordPress.

In the words of John Scott

I believe the supplemental index is almost wholly pages with non-unique text, and Google’s motivation for creating another index for that has more to do with filtering (devaluing) links from those pages than it is with keeping those pages out of their search results pages.

Google’s algorithm is still 95% link based. When you are a search engine that is driven by links and manipulated by links, it is in your interest to restrict link weight distribution authority. Google has smartly done this by devaluing link weight from non-unique pages (read: supplemental index); I am guessing that they also devalue non-unique links.

I think there’s more to the supplemental index than duplicate content, but I agree that duplicate pages will often end up there and once there the links on those pages won’t pass much value. The end result of your article submission campaign is a lot of pages with your article in Google’s supplemental index that don’t count as backlinks to your site. Other search engines may see the situation differently, but I suspect none will value the links highly.

How article marketing can work

After reading the above you may wonder how article marketing can be profitable. The trick is to be selective in where you publish your articles. I don’t mean selective in the directories you submit to, rather selective in the specific sites you submit to. In my post yesterday I mentioned how quality is important when it comes to links. If you can get your article published on a site that shows some signs of quality you end up with a very good link.

In fact if you find the right site you can get a link that has every one of the quality indicators I mentioned yesterday. You’ll have to wait for the link to age to get the last one, but that will come.

You’re probably wondering how you find these sites aren’t you? Chances are you might already know a few of them. The sites I’m talking about are the authority sites in your industry. You may already read a few of them. So do your visitors and people you’d like to visit your site. These sites are on the same topic as your site, they’re trusted by people and search engines, and they’re read by many.

An example of one of these sites is A List Apart which accepts articles about web design and development. A List Apart accepts articles, but they have a very high standard for which articles get accepted. It’s that high standard that makes being published on the site so valuable.

Another example might be a general authority site like Squidoo, which offers you an easy opportunity to publish your own lens as they call it. Because there’s no editorial review of your article links won’t be as valuable as a site like A List Apart, but it can still be a source of both traffic and links.

I won’t lie to you. It’s going to be harder to get your articles published on the kind of sites I’m recommending. Even the really good article you dashed off for directory submission won’t cut it. You’ll need to spend more time researching your topic and spend more time writing and polishing your article, but you can do both and get the article published. And once published your article will deliver valuable links and visitors and help brand you as an expert in your field.

You don’t have to shoot for the top, though. Not everyone can get published in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. If you spend the time getting to know your industry you’ll find sites that accept articles that range in quality. The better the site the more valuable an article on the site will be, but most of the sites you find should offer more value than the low quality sites that will pick up your article through directory submission.

Do people blog on your topic? Some of those bloggers will be looking for guest posts from time to time. A few guest posts might even land you a regular gig guest blogging giving you many opportunities to link back to your site and reach a new audience.

Instead of submitting articles to directories spend some time finding sites in your industry that will provide more benefit to you. Start by submitting your article to the best site you think reasonable. If it doesn’t get accepted try the next best site on your list. Try sites like Squidoo next and use the article directories only as a fall back You can always keep the content for yourself and work harder on your next article so it does get accepted.

Yes, it’s harder than writing a quick article and submitting to a few dozen directories and calling it a day. But at the end of the day would you rather spend an hour writing an article that will have little benefit at best or would you rather spend a few days writing one that can deliver traffic and give you a valuable link that will be difficult for your competition to replicate? Wouldn’t you rather write an article that gets read by real people who click links and visit your site? Wouldn’t you rather write an article that has the potential to push your brand in front of the very people that make up your target market?

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8 Responses to “A Better Approach to Article Marketing”

  1. music directory

    - 4th Jul, 07 10:07am

    I spent 5 great minutes reading your article. I still don’t see how Squidoo can help but I totally agree free articles directories are not any good.

  2. Home Business Ideas

    - 4th Jul, 07 12:07pm

    Hey nice article.

    My experience is similar to yours. Article marketing used to worked very well for SEO until Google’s duplicate filter got smart.

    Now you need to be selective or ensure that you have a slightly different article on the same topic for each site you submit the article to.

    That said some of the larger article sites have very high traffic so if you write an article which captures peoples interest you will get traffic even if it has little SEO value.

    Also congrats on the do follow. Hope you get as positive a result from it that I have.

  3. Steven Bradley (author comment)

    - 5th Jul, 07 03:07pm

    music directory, the idea for Squidoo is that it’s still seen as an authority site, which should mean a quality link back to your site. Unfortunately since there’s no editorial review on the content and links Squidoo may not always hold that same authority status.

    Home Business Ideas, that’s exactly the reason for the decline of marketing through article directories. I think if you write a good article and submit it to one of a small handful of the more popular directories like eZine, you can get some traffic and probably even a few decent links out of it.

    I still think there are better sites for your content, which is why I’d recommend first submitting it to a more targeted site. Failing acceptance at your hand chosen site then I think it’s fine to submit to eZine or similar.

    Glad you both enjoyed the article.

  4. Andy

    - 6th Jul, 07 05:07am

    Nicely fleshed out article.
    I’ve written two articles recently – one submitted to articlesbase.com on freelancing mistakes, and a lens on squidoo about party planning.

    The articlesbase piece was quickly washed off the front page of the business category by spam and I gained very little in traffic from it.

    The Squidoo lens is new (linked above) but so far it has had an amazingly low level of page views. My lensrank is much too high to have the article appear up the results on searches…

    So overall I think submitting articles is useless without using a blog to promote them.

  5. 7 Marketing School

    - 22nd Jul, 09 05:07am

    Online affiliate marketing began as a natural outgrowth of the popularity of “linking” to other sites. To put it simply, online affiliate marketing
    is a time tested strategy for making money online. It it is a network of online partners who refer business to your website.

    7 Marketing School

  6. Aditya

    - 27th Jul, 09 09:07am

    Hi Steven,

    Article marketing used to worked very wells until Google’s duplicate filter got smart. I’ll like to add that if you write interesting articles which captures peoples intrest then you’ll get traffic (seo value of the article might be low)
    Welcome to the dofollow community.

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