A Look At Article Directories and Their Influence in Organic Rankings
Article directories and article syndication websites are one the earliest forms internet marketing, but do they still work and are they worth the effort? The main problem with syndicated articles is that they will most likely be seen as duplicate content, which Google claims will be filtered out of organic SERP’s. Article directory owners tell a different story. In a style reminiscent of late night infomercials, they will talk about the exposure benefits and tidal waves of traffic that contributions to article directories can bring. So where’s the truth? In this article we’ll be taking a look at article directories, if there are any benefits, and if you can use them to help your organic rankings.
Looking at article directory stats
Here’s a look at give top tier article directories and their traffic ranking and standings:
Using Compete.com for keyword research, here is a list of some of organic non-brand name keywords
each of these article directories ranks for:
(acai berry scams)
(reverse phone lookup)
(how to tell if you are pregnant)
(benefits for crude oil)
Performing a page level backlink analysis on these pages showed that all but one had a very small number of external links. Instead of external links, these pages ranked on the combination of domain trust, internal anchor text, and on page SEO.
One of the benefits of using article syndication websites used to be the backlinks. However a look through most of these websites now shows that many are using the nofollow tag, negating the effect of any backlinks. The secondary benefit came from the links embedded in the articles that were being syndicated. Again, a page level backlink analysis showed that the majority of these inbound links were no-followed, removed, or on websites of low or questionable quality. However there were a few mid-level quality, straight links that turned up.
So is submitting content to article directories still worth doing? Once you leave the top tier article sites, the drop in quality and traffic is fairly steep. For anything more competitive than long tail 4+ word keywords, it is my opinion it’s not worth the effort. Unless you are targeting extremely uncompetitive phrases, with disposable URLs, mass submission and blaster software, is also not worth the time and expense.
However, that doesn’t mean article directories should be completely ignored. For new and developing websites, article syndication can have some value for self promotion and the occasional mid-level backlink. The danger however is having your article, on a domain with more trust, outranking you in the SERPs. Most article directories have fairly aggressively placed advertising, and the likelihood of someone not clicking a competing advertisement and making it to the bottom and using your link are fairly slim. So I would recommend using second tier content that’s not quite good enough for your website. Never duplicate content on your website and an article directory. It forces the search engine to choose who is the original and who is the duplicate. Instead opt for a complete rewrite.
One of the more controversial ways to use an article directory is for reputation management. This approach allows you to use the domain trust, internal anchor text and on page SEO factors of the directory to your advantage. The likelyhood of an article directory outranking your main domain for your company name is fairly small. However, in many cases it does have the potential to outrank most user-generated content or review-based websites that might be ranking for your name. A carefully crafted title, combined with a few targeted links from your official website can carry a lot of weight, and usually displace negative listings.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
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