In the past article marketing was a quick fix SEO tool: write one article, syndicate it using submission software or a paid service and your article – along with its backlinks to your site – could go out to thousands of directories and sites. The result: hundreds of instant backlinks, as Google didn’t penalize article directories in the same manner as other types of websites. Two blogs or standard websites with the same posts will be penalized for duplicate content – with the one that actually originated the content possibly being penalized. Article directories, on the other hand, were not penalized for duplicate content in this manner.
The reason was that articles are different than other types of content. The same AP story can show up thousands of different places, and each one of these outlets shouldn’t be penalized for posting something from a wire service. But article directories aren’t an AP service. Someone writing a poorly written article about “How to pet a cat” is not quite of the same caliber as legitimate news. OK, I’m being harsh, there’s actual useful content within article directories. But Google has gotten wise to people gaming the system by over-submitting to article directories just to get backlinks.
Really, this is to Google’s credit. And it should be a lesson to anyone looking for any easy way into SEO. If it’s easy, and cheating, Google will eventually ban the practice from ranking. Google’s changes in terms are normally to find a way to counter spam showing up in search results – and, really, that’s what multiple article submissions are: a kind of spam. No one wants to see the same article showing up ten different times for the same search result.
Google’s New Policy on Article Marketing
So what Google does now is discard all the duplicate articles and keep one. You could submit 5000 articles to directories and only one backlink will count for the linked site. And it might not even be the article directory with the highest page rank – it’s just the one that Google chooses to be the original source. If you submit an article to a bunch of places all at once, who’s to say which one is the original?
So is article marketing a dead strategy? Yes and no. If you have the time or patience to rewrite the same article over and over, that’s good for individual backlinks, it just takes a lot longer. And even if 5000 links from duplicate articles are not contributing to page rank, they can still contribute to traffic and name recognition, so there’s still some value. A secret: Google’s not perfect and even with Google’s duplicate content penalty, some backlinks still are recorded, so there’s still the possibility of contributing to rank. Additionally, Yahoo and MSN are still counting these links (for however much longer that lasts) so it has value in other search engines. Basically, the links from your articles will still stick, but not in as many places as in the past.
People have devised new ways around this, such as mixing up paragraphs so that the content still flows, but it appears as unique content. Two problems with this: it leads to terrible writing and it doesn’t always work. Manual rewriting the article so it’s truly unique is your best way to go, as just changing a few words around is insufficient – and even if it works, Google’s going to find a way to stop this workaround in the future, possibly penalizing your site for the practice.