Does Brute Force Article Marketing Still Work?

 

Article Submission theory is controversial, and many experts will not agree that my article marketing strategy is correct. This is a long post, it goes off in multiple tangents, but please bare with me because it is all relevant.
Short version: Brute Force Article Marketing… works
Long Version: Read on…

This Started Off As a Comment

This article started off as a comment I was writing over on Brian’s post at CopyBlogger on Linking Strategies That Work.

Brian asked me…

Andy, does that brute force article marketing with affiliate program stuff still work? Haven’t done any of that in ages.

Article Marketing is Dead?

I was going to use that as the title, but that is a worn out record
Many experts would argue that article marketing as a form of website promotion died sometime during 2006. Search Engines began discounting the link equity from the articles that were published en-mass, and many gave up with article distribution.

Selective Article Marketing is Alive

Another group of experts would proclaim that article syndication works well, but you should be highly selective about how you distribute your articles.

This is for a number of reasons including:-

  1. Many of the top article directories started to use nofollow in the links to author websites.
  2. This is actually fairly serious and potentially unethical as I will discuss later.

  3. There is no point having an article posted on a website that very few people visit other than to post articles.
  4. It takes longer to publish articles to 500 article directories than to write 4 new articles, and publish them to the top 10 article directories that do give you traffic. This only really applies if you are submitting by hand or software.
  5. I have recently read one top article writer state that he gets so much traffic from submitting to one article directories, he couldn’t cope with more
  6. Being able to offer more exclusivity

For some great commentary on this approach, this thread on the EzineArticles blog is a very good read. Article Submission: – 1 to 200 or 200 to 1 (added 2 keywords to the link)

Blog Syndication

When you write something on your blog, and hit publish, your blogging software sends out a ping using xml-rpc to the sites you request it to do so. If your blogging system doesn’t notify lots of sites, it is usually recommended that you use a service such as Pingomatic to re-ping additional sites.

Lists of sites you can ping, that are updated regularly, are one of the most popular items that bloggers search for.

If you are using WordPress there used to be quite a delay if you had a long list of sites you ping every time you made a post, but those problems are long gone.

You won’t find anyone recommending that you ping less sites because having your content listed on more sites is bad for you. As long as the content links back to the original source, everything is cool.

Reblogs, Shared Feeds and Splogs

Touchy subject among many, but depending on copyright most people are happy with their work being syndicated in some way, as long as the sites link back to the original source. Some who don’t allow commercial use of their full content would insist on a site using an excerpt, and many rebloggers do this by default because of this.

The biggest shame is that many of these reblogs are not very well SEO optimized, and that whilst the domain might achieve a PR5 mainly from internal linking, the content doesn’t really achieve a great deal of worth. Such a reblog would quite often use a single link to pass PR from the home page or a very short blogroll on a sitemap page. They could do a lot better, both for themselves and for the sites whose content they use.

Pareto

I am going to link to Wikipedia entries as many people will already have an understanding of the Pareto Principle and various 80-20 rule permutations.

But that is just one theory we have to thank Pareto for, there is also:-

Pareto efficiency, or Pareto optimality, is an important notion in neoclassical economics with broad applications in game theory, engineering and the social sciences. Given a set of alternative allocations and a set of individuals, a movement from one allocation to another that can make at least one individual better off, without making any other individual worse off, is called a Pareto improvement or Pareto optimization. An allocation of resources is Pareto efficient or Pareto optimal when no further Pareto improvements can be made.

If you ensure you are not worse off from whatever form of syndication you undertake, and it might add some benefit elsewhere, it should be considered, as long as it doesn’t take up too much time.

Submitting For Editorial Review

The majority of the article directories have some level of editorial review, and if they are smart, a selection process. They choose how they accept articles, which articles they publish, and how those articles are presented to the public.

Websites that are well optimized and “niched” that use 100% duplicate content can still gain search engine traffic, and provide a worthwhile user experience.

I suppose I should give you proof of that: Technorati

Ok so Technorati have an unfair advantage in the ranking wars with millions of bloggers giving them free links to every term imaginable. No matter how discounted the duplicate content is, the massive amount of links just can’t be ignored. Plus it is a useful service – I just prefer to link to my own tag pages.

Here is another example, mainly linked to with the aid of article marketing, just one single article well over one year ago.

It has also received 2 links from my old blog, and as the content is now on this blog, those are counting as well. Actually this test site used to be PR4, that has dropped down to PR3 over the last 4 months, but then it hasn’t been gaining that many new links, there is only one article in circulation for it.

The site in question: keyword-report.blogspot.com

I have deliberately not changed it for over a year, and I am deliberately not adding another link to it from this post. I would appreciate it is you don’t link to it as it is a useful test site.

Here is some recent search activity (in the last 2 weeks)

keyword

That site is almost 100% duplicate content other than the first 5 or so posts. I have used a little wrapping in places.

The funny thing is at one time that blog used to have some real subscribers, so people must have liked the article selection. Article Miner is no longer on sale, but the creators do have a few other systems available. BlogAutoPublisher can do a lot more these days, and I will probably show an example site sometime… I have promised that before as well, we will see.

The site isn’t doing any harm to normal searchers, it is ranking for SEO related terms that a small number of people search for, plus some misspellings.

Ok moving on…

SEO and Linking Structures

One of the factors that affect relevance for certain terms these days is how pages are interlinked. That is one of the reasons blogs can rank so well for various terms, because you can link to related content so easily, both on your own site, and on the sites of others.

A smart article directory or niche website that is using duplicate content is going to include links to related terms from within the content, using CSS to change the representation on screen. That additional content doesn’t necessarily have to be included within the content feeds, but if you can manage it, it is a good idea.
Most often used are snippets to other articles that are relevant, or providing tips.
This changes keyword density, adds LSI related terms, and also allows you to provide a link through to related content without making live links on words written by the original author which is a grey area.

Using tables or CSS you can also shuffle blocks of content. That was written 15 months ago. It is possible to totally scramble the order of phrases in an article, and then stick them back together using CSS for display on the screen. You don’t need to go that far yet.

Original Author

Search Engines will try to determine the source of an article. Just because it is published first on one site, doesn’t mean Google or any other site will look on it as being the origin.

Here is a bad recent example to demonstrate this theory

A short while ago I published a single article on this blog

Lifelong Customers From Sharing Your Knowledge”

Here is a quoted search for it on Google

It is in the articles category all by itself, not too far from the front page, so it won’t get devalued too much.
Here is a screen shot to give this post some longevity, as SERPs change.

Article Marketing Results

A few days later I submitted it to ArticleMarketer. I had some problems with links in the body of the article, and Article Marketer were having growing pains among other things thus it took a while to be resolved. It was mainly me being stubborn, I could have got it out of the door faster, but I thought the solution proposed by their editors was a little unethical.

Now when you do a search for an article, and see lots of references, don’t get too excited. With all the snippets out there, articles published with no link or a nofollow, duplicate content on the same site, and refeeds of excerpts from article directories that point only to the article directory (even the biggest are guilty of that), you can normally cross off a zero for real backlinks.

You will see that this site isn’t being listed first. The article here is slightly different, it was wrapped with some additional text, and in the article itself there are differences because of those links and a small block of text, but I don’t think that makes a difference.

You see I didn’t link back to the source – I used one of my 2 links from the author resource box to the service I was giving a strong recommendation for. It is a shame I couldn’t include them in the body.
This was also before Google confirmed they use these links back to the source as helping in determining duplicate content origin. I had asked the question in the comments over at Matt Cutt’s blog previously without a response.

I would have given you an example of how the article helped for the referred site to rank. I did see a jump from 7th place in Google up to 1st, but they also made some changes to their own linking structure which might have helped.

But did you notice something about the Google SERPS?

ArticlesTree is a WordPress Blog, with a reasonable page structure and none of the content is any deeper than a couple of links from the front page.
It seems to be a new site, and from the looks of things they have been doing some work in building links… or dumping some dollars into it.
I am almost 100% sure that Articlestree.com is sourcing all their content from Article Marketer, and having the articles fed directly in, based on category.

It is amazing to see a site ranking higher than EzineArticles.com for a particular article title, which just goes to show that it is possible.

If an article directory isn’t linking back to the original source with a followable link, the search engines get confused, and determine by themselves which article version is most relevant. That can be based on a number of factors. If you link back to the page on your website where the original article is located, that helps the search engines, and gives you more credibility as being the originator. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will outrank Wikipedia, but it gives you more chance.

Brute Force Article Marketing

It works, but you have to do it the right way

I wouldn’t go to the effort of writing content purely for article syndication. I would always post it on my own site first.

Some content is ideal for further syndication such as Top 7 and Top 10 lists and short “How Tos” on all types of subjects.
700 to 1000 words is currently looked on as the ideal length for articles, though some publishers prefer shorter articles.

Here are some steps I would suggest

  1. Select some suitable content for syndication – it can be some of your older content
  2. the best content to use might be the content that already has a fair number of links. You might thing it unwise to syndicate your best, most popular content, but it has the highest chance of being picked up for a newsletter, and no one is going to beat you for long tail searches on that content. At the same time, the more links that content gets, the more pagerank and relevance it can pass onto other pages, making them stronger
  3. Edit the content –
    • Article directories have different specific rules about linking out and self serving links
    • You might want to change your paragraph formatting – remember your article might appear in emails
    • no affiliate links with messy URLs, although many allow you to use a registered root domain as a redirect… even the top directories
    • create a footer that contains a deep link to your original content, plus I would suggest a link through to a money page, squeeze page or secondary site. Based on my tracking, a large number of interested customers will look at your home page anyway after visiting a deeplink.
    • Submit articles everywhere you can – yes that is controversial
      • Most of the sites provide you a backlink – it might not be much, but it all helps
      • Most sites have an editor checking submissions – look on an editor of an article directory as being a subscriber. If you submit to 500 or 1000 article directories, that is 500 or 1000 readers. A blog with that many subscribers would be looked on as successful
      • The more articles you submit based on your blog content, the stronger your internal pages will become, thus although from day one some article directories might outrank you, that won’t last forever, as you are gaining links in other ways as well.
      • Think of Articlestree.com – blogs are often much better optimized than article directories. They are ideal niche websites – many you can’t submit to manually – if they are ranking strongly for your content, they might also pass on more link juice of various kinds.
      • A year ago, if you searched for “Andy Beard” in Google, my Ezine Articles profile would have been in around 5th spot in the SERPs – it is now 13th and soon to be overtaken by my Disclosure Policy Plugin site, which has hardly any links other than from this site

I talked about Pareto – syndicating your content shouldn’t take up a lot of time. Your blog does it automatically.

I prefer to use the services of a company like Article Marketer, though there are other services. It takes me 5 minutes to re-purpose a blog post into an article for redistribution.

I don’t opt for the software route, rotating author boxes, rotating paragraphs or heaven forbid some of the automatic article re-writing software currently available to supposedly create multiple unique version of the same article.
In my opinion that is too much hard work for very little gain. It can also give a “false positive” signal to the article directories. How are they to know whether the article you submit to them really was your own work, with some many other variations floating around the ether. Yes most will have the same author name, but the same tools are used frequently with private label rights articles or as a form of plagiarism.

Another way of looking at this, has anyone written a WordPress plugin that serves a different version of your blog posts to each blog search engine and blog archive site? Even if they did write one, would you really bother using it? I wouldn’t for sure.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    [quote]
    It takes longer to publish articles to 500 article directories than to write 4 new articles, and publish them to the top 10 article directories that do give you traffic. This only really applies if you are submitting by hand or software.
    [/quote]

    Care to share your top ten list? ;)

  2. says

    I just submit to one primary place now, Article Marketer, and articles end up everywhere.
    If I was to suggest an alternative, it would be Submit Your Articles – a similar service.

    As to sites, I suppose Ezine Articles and Go Articles.

    After that what I would do is do a search on an author name you know submits a similar number of articles in your niche, and see where his author profile appears in the SERPs on various sites.
    Also do a search based on article titles for articles submitted around the same time.

    As an example, if you check my name on the serps http://www.articlealley.com/author_1_3723.html came well above my profile on Ezine Articles, even though they only have one of my articles there (I can’t remember the history of that)

    If you check someone like Jack Humphrey or Willie Crawford, who both do a fair amount of article submission, the mileage varies.

    Then again, WebProNews who have just started picking up my content from the blog have already sent me 21 visitors.

    For niche stuff , I use different names

  3. says

    I think that article marketing takes some time to show results. Usually, especially on a new site, if you through a lot of links at something with targetted anchor text then it hits a penalty. However, if you then leave that site for a few months then you can be sure that it will start ranking for those keywords.

    On a side-note I feel articlemarketer really went down hill. I stopped using it a couple of months ago. Do some checks on the amount of links your getting from it and you may be suprised to find out it’s less than you think.

  4. says

    Very informative, in-depth post Andy. I don’t think that article marketing is dead, per say, but as you lay out in this article, how you use it has to be custom-fitted to your purpose.

    With search engines penalizing duplicate content more and more, and the sheer number of free article directories out there, the penalties could easily outweigh the benefits.

    As a freelance writer, I prefer to sell my content first (eg, on a site like AssociatedContent.com, or as PLR content), then submit it to free article directories at a later date, once I’ve exhausted all paid methods.

    Thanks for the indepth examination of this subject.

    Sincerely,
    Yuwanda Black, Publisher
    InkwellEditorial.com

  5. says

    First of all, a nice article Andy!

    Well, I’ve just started my own article marketing experiments and I hope it will pay off in the future (I hope it still holds true that brute force AM still works).

    At the moment I use different, keyword optimized articles to gain some backlinks for a niche site I created. So far no positive results, but it takes some time for sure.

    Bye,
    Peter

  6. says

    Being the owner of 2 article directories I can say that it still does work. There are several reasons and theories about this – but the least of which is that while the links may not all count in the big 3 serps – there are still users who visit each of the article directories every day and look for new content to syndicate or content to read or stories to use in newspapers.

    Having a wider distribution base – aka article marketer – benefits you in 2 ways – 1) bigger net to catch interested parties 2) potentially more links.

  7. says

    I started a highly technical niche blog on thermal spray coatings and while it had quite a deep technical spin to it, there was no traffic to speak of until I started submitting articles to ezinearticles and such. Each article submitted was completely unique in content; none of this change a few words and phrases game involved. That was the best thing I ever did, because traffic to my site went up significantly to the point that I decided to start my own article directory. So article marketing does work and the degree of success completely depends upon the quality of the article, I believe. Thank you.

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