I hear it a lot… “Our SEO company is building links to our site by submitting articles to article directories with a couple links pointing back.”

Immediately I’m thinking, “Is that all?”

Article marketing, as described above, has been abused for a long time now. As a result, the search engines have discounted links contained in article directories for at least two years.

Recently I was chatting with a fellow SEO consultant about the recent Farmer update and we agreed that we could have sensed Farmer was coming when we first noticed Google was discounting links in article directories. There’s no way to know if there is a correlation here, but it seems possible.

Matt Cutts published a video on March 7th, just 10 days after the Farmer update on this very topic. Coincidence? Maybe, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Acquiring links from article directories is easy, in fact it’s very close to manufactured links, and herein is the problem. If Google can discount this type of “manufactured link,” then you could be spinning your wheels at some point, unable to move forward but not sure why with your link building plan.

The next level up in article marketing is when webmasters or bloggers go to the article directories looking for great content to use on their sites. When they select your article, it then comes out of the article directory and becomes part of a real site (hopefully not a scraper site) with a real live audience. But most of the sites I see doing this are scraper sites – setup to run automatically. If you try to contact them, you won’t find any real contact info anywhere on the site and if you do, no one responds.

If a real site with a real audience publishes your content, does this allow your links in the article to be counted? That is the big question. Here’s a short video by Matt Cutts explaining some of this when he answers: Do you recommend article marketing as an SEO strategy?

Matt says he’s not a huge fan of article marketing because:

  • Publishers of these articles are usually not high quality sites
  • Sometimes the article itself isn’t good quality stuff – just words on a page
  • You end up with duplicate content across the web
  • You sometimes get duplicate anchor text
  • These are typically not editorial links compared to other links on the web

Matt says he is a fan of  great content that naturally gets links and social media marketing that results in organic linking.

Can article marketing work? Sure it can to some degree especially if the article is published on real sites rather than scraper sites, but in my opinion it hinges on whether the content itself is in demand or not.

Is this a “prophecy” or a “forecast” as Matt says? No, this is simply business as usual for Google.

What is the future of article directories? Is this the end of the line for those article directories that were whacked by the Farmer update, or should it be?

Let me ask that question a bit differently. When was the last time you saw an article from EzineArticles.com tweeted out, liked on facebook or bookmarked? It might happen, but I’ve never seen it. Or, when was the last time a friend emailed you an article from EzineArticles.com and you thought, “Just what I was looking for, another great article from EzineArticles?” Umm, no.

In my opinion, this should be one of the goals for article directories if they want to be favored by Google again. And it should be a goal of any site that is publishing content to build links.

Tom Shivers
Tom Shivers

I'm a ecommerce SEO consultant and President of Capture Commerce. I've managed digital marketing campaigns for scores of clients since 2000 and found that every business is unique with its own challenges and opportunities. When I see that I have contributed to the success of a business by helping them grow, it makes me feel awesome! That’s the coolest thing and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to do this.

    1 Response to "The Slow Death of Article Marketing"

    • Tom Shivers

      John (on facebook comments since it’s down right now), if we are playing Jeopardy, I’ll try to ask the question you just answered: When do you push your own articles published on Ezinearticles.com via twitter, facebook?

      Did I nail it? Otherwise, you totally missed my question, my friend.

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