Building Links To Increase Traffic by Article Marketing

To most people, article marketing means writing an article and submitting it to numerous article directories along with a few links back to your own site. There are literally hundreds, possibly thousands, such article directories to submit to. Aggressive promoters tout software that automatically submits your articles to these directories in bulk. There’s even software available to automatically generate your articles for you. Sales pages scream promises of reaping thousands of incoming links at the push of a button.

Where Most People Go Wrong With Article Marketing

It’s always tempting to go for the quick-fix, and Internet marketers make quite a bit of money promising webmasters automated ways to rocket their sites to the top of the search results. But a button-pushing approach to article marketing can often have significant drawbacks:

  • Low-quality links – Links from article directories are not in themselves very important. Blasting out articles to hundreds of article directories using automated software is typically going to result in lot of low-value, low-quality links.
  • Duplicate content – If you’re submitting the same article to several directories, you’ll be creating duplicate copies of the same content in various places around the web. Most of the articles will get filtered out as duplicate content, and the links on them will be worthless (there are good and bad ways to get around this, as we shall see).
  • You identify yourself as an SEO – With article directories, you’ll be getting a significant percentage of your links from well-known SEO link sources. Search engines know that one of the primary uses of article directories is to provide an easy way for SEOs to boost their site’s link count. You might as well send the search engines an email saying “Hi, I’m an SEO page trying to artificially inflate my incoming links!

Getting a few article directory links is fine, but if they start comprising too large a percentage of your overall links you risk making it look like you’re trying too hard to pump up your incoming links. You’re painting a big red target on your site telling the search engines you’re a known link manipulator.

Spinning: Not Just for Politicians

We mentioned the duplicate content problem when submitting the same article to multiple article directories. Some marketers use content spinning to get around this. Spinning involves inserting various tags within your content so automated spinning software can swap out words and sentences and create several modified versions of the original article.The goal of content spinning is to make each version of an article different enough from the others that it will be able to elude the search engines’ duplicate content filters.

Here’s an example of a sentence with spinning tags inserted:

{Low|No} interest {balance transfers|transferred balances} are {everywhere|ubiquitous}, but you need to be {careful|cautious}.

The spinning software will recognize the text between brackets ({}) and will swap out one of the keywords within that bracket. You can also specify that it choose different versions of entire sentences or paragraphs. This way you can use one article to create dozens or even hundreds of articles that you hope are different enough to not get caught in duplicate content filters.

For instance, spinning software could automatically create the following three sentences from the above tagged sentence:Low interest balance transfers are everywhere, but you need to be careful.No interest transferred balances are ubiquitous, but you need to be cautious.

Low interest transferred balances are everywhere, but you need to be cautious.

However, even if you spin your articles so that each is unique (well, unique enough) and doesn’t get removed from the index by duplicate content filters, you’ll still end up with a lot of low-value article directory links that are not going to do a whole lot to improve your rankings. If you’re in a very low-competition market, then content spinning may be enough to help you rank, but for most markets it’s not going to produce the necessary results.

The Right Way to Do Article Marketing

Distributing articles to article directories can still work provided that other non-article directory sites pick up those articles and reprint them. After all, providing pre-written content for other sites is the stated purpose of most article directories.The problem there is that most sites pulling their content from article directories tend to be low-quality sites. There are exceptions, but often your articles end up on sites with little content of their own who’re just looking for cheap and easy ways to beef up their Made-for-AdSense (MFA) scraper site.

So, what’s a Scraper Site?

Scraper sites are automatically generated sites where content is pulled from other web pages (i.e. scraped) and plastered with AdSense ads. They hope that all the keywords on the page will help it rank for something and the ads will get a few clicks.It’s a volume game—scrapers create large numbers of such pages and bet they can generate more revenue from the clicks than it costs to keep the site up and running. Even when the sites aren’t scrapers, you’ll find that sites which depend on getting free content from articles directories generally aren’t of the highest quality, so you’re not going to be getting very many valuable links this way. Occasionally you will, but it’s rare.

We’ve found the best approach is to bypass the article directories completely. Instead, we personally track down the best sites in our niche that are looking for writers, then we create a direct relationship with those sites and provide them with unique content in exchange for links.

This approach can help you build targeted anchor text links to your site any time you need them. Let’s say you add a new page selling downloadable dragon tattoo stencils, and you want to point some links with the anchor text download dragon tattoos at that page. You’ll be able to create an article about tattoos with that link in the body copy, then distribute it exclusively to those sites which you’ve created an article distribution relationship with.

Being able to build links…

  • when you want,
  • to the exact pages you want,
  • using the exact anchor text you want

…is an extremely valuable advantage.

How to Find the Best Article Distribution Partners

The best way to find high-quality sites to syndicate articles to is to simply use the search engines to conduct some highly targeted queries.Your goal is to find sites within your niche who are currently looking for writers or are accepting articles from outside contributors. We’ve found that combining your top keywords with the text that tends to be found on these types of sites produces excellent results. For example, sites looking for article contributors often say things like…

  • looking for PHP programmers
  • submit a PHP programming article
  • contribute PHP code
  • contribute PHP code to our website
  • contribute a PHP programming article
  • write a PHP programming article
  • notes for PHP programmers
  • guidelines for PHP programmers

If your site sells PHP Programmer services, the following searches will turn up many good sites in your category looking for writers to submit articles:

A short sampling of some of the sites we turned up with these searches:

Obviously not every search of this nature is going to turn up good leads for every keyword, but many will. Best of all, these will be natural links from a wide range of unique IP addresses with your chosen anchor text. These are the exact kind of links Google likes best.

To zero in on the most trusted sites in your industry looking for article writers, you can further target your search just to those sites which have DMOZ listings. Just do the above searches in the Google Directory. For example: “looking for PHP programmers “.

The Google Directory is just a copy of DMOZ, so they’ll have the same listings, but the Google Directory is easier to search. Sites listed with DMOZ tend to be more trusted by search engines since they’ve already been through an editorial review, and getting linked to from those sites means some of that trust will be passed on to you.

Another highly effective strategy is to see where other writers are getting their articles published. To do this, search your category in some of the bigger article directories. Here’s the top authors in the Business:Team Building category.

To see what other sites are publishing articles from these authors, do a search for their names in quotes. A search for “Kevin Eikenberry” turns up articles like this one on SideRoad.com. You can also search Google for the titles of articles in quotes to see where those articles are getting reprinted, such as “The Most Misused Tool in Meetings”.

Often these searches will also turn up the article on a bunch of other article directories as well as a fair number of low-quality sites. Ignore those. However, you’ll also find a few decent-looking sites reprinting these articles, and those are the ones you’ll want to contact and offer one of your own unique articles.

Why Use The Quote Marks?

Placing quotes around your search phrases tells the search engine to search for that exact phase with the words in that exact order. So a search for “php programmers” won’t return pages that just contain php or programmers or php programmers .

Producing Lots of High Quality Articles

The biggest drawback to the approach we’ve covered so far is the time involved in crafting articles for each site. But remember that natural links from a small number of real sites in your topical neighborhood will produce better ranking results than a large number of links from scraper sites or from well-known SEO link sources like article directories.Generally our approach is to research and write one article first. After the initial writing and researching is done, we should be pretty familiar with the article topic. Then we set that article aside and write a second article on the same topic, but without looking at the first article.

Most the information will be fresh enough in our minds that we’ll be able to write the second article pretty quickly, but since we’re not referring back to our original article there’ll be enough variations in the second article that it’ll be unique. We then set that article aside and repeat the process, producing a third article, and so on. We’ve found this process can produce several unique articles on the same topic in a fairly short period of time. We also try to take a fresh approach or perspective each time to keep the articles from being too similar.

Typically we outsource this type of article writing to professional ghostwriters (craigslist.org is a great place to find writers), so we share this method with our ghostwriters and have them produce 5 or 10 articles at a time.

It is possible to automate this process to a degree using the spinning software we mentioned earlier, but we’ve found this tends to create rather awkward and unnatural text. Since we’re syndicating our articles to high-quality sites that are looking for well-written and valuable content, we feel it’s essential that the articles be written by a human, not a robot.

Keep in mind that even if someone is displaying your article on their site, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a great link. If that article is not well-linked from within that site, then all you’ve got is a PageRank=0 link, which isn’t going to do a whole lot for your rankings unless the site is highly authoritative.

Ideally, you’ll convince the person printing your article to link to it from some of their higher-PageRank pages so that the article gets some link reputation it can pass your way. Sites willing to do this will be your most valuable article distribution partners.

This approach is similar to the paid-link presell page method we’ve covered in the past, in which you pay someone to run your article on their site and have them link to it from their important pages. The article distribution method is essentially the free version of that approach. The free and paid routes are both worth exploring.

You might also try pointing some external links at those articles to increase the value of the link. Sites like Squidoo and Google Pages can be used as easy ways to build links to your articles hosted on other sites. We cover a number of such sites in our report on how to get authoritative links for free.

If You Absolutely Must Use Article Directories

We realize that this report might seem overly critical of article directories, but it’s important to realize that article directories can still be a valuable tool. We still use a few of them, although they comprise only a small part of our overall link building strategy. We list our favorites in our Directory Master chart.The key to being successful with article directories is to realize their shortcomings and not become overly dependent on them.

  • You want your articles to get reprinted, so pick a topic that people will find interesting. Take your inspiration from other articles. Besides topic, pay strict attention to spelling and grammar – sloppy articles tend not to be reprinted.Make sure you include a link back to your site in your author profile. If the directory permits, include a few in the body of the article as well—as some people may strip out the author profile and present the article on their site as if they actually wrote it. Slipping a link to your site within the body of your article helps to negate that to some degree.
  • Set up a Google Alert on some unique text from your article. This will let you track who is reprinting it. If the reprinting site seems good (i.e. not just Made-for-AdSense junk) then contact them and offer to supply them with exclusive articles. That will keep your articles (and links) from getting filtered out of the index due to duplicate content and can be a reliable way to build targeted links.It also doesn’t hurt to set up Google Alerts on the names of other writers who’re getting a lot of articles reprinted in your niche. This will let you track where their articles are getting reprinted, so you can contact those sites and see if they’ll reprint your articles as well. Keep in mind that Google Alerts just show you new pages Google has indexed that contain the keywords you’re tracking. To see where you (or the other writers in your niche) have gotten articles reprinted in the past, you’ll need to do a regular Google search with the article title or author name in quotes.
  • Don’t print your syndicated articles on your own site. You’re just creating a duplicate content problem. Keep your on-site content and your articles for distribution separate.
  • Don’t submit to too many article directories. Keep your submissions limited to the top 10 article directories or so. Becoming overly reliant on links from article directories can make your incoming link profile look unnatural. We don’t like more than 10% of our overall incoming links to come from article directories.

As mentioned, most sites reprinting articles from article directories are not especially high-quality. However, when you do find a good site (i.e. has some of its own backlinks, appears to be providing some actual product, service, or information aside from just getting AdSense clicks) and that site’s reprinting your articles, then follow up with them and create a relationship whereby you send them articles directly. This can be an incredibly valuable way to build links. Keep your best stuff on your site. Article marketing can be a great way to build quality links—especially when you track down the best places to submit articles yourself. But having great content on your site is even more important. If you feel an article you’ve written is especially noteworthy, keep it on your own site.

This is particularly true is you feel the article might have the potential to spread in a viral way through social media sites like

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