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Can Article Marketing Work For B2B SEO?
One of the hot topics in the SEO world is consistently “article marketing.” Primarily, there are conversations around how SEO professionals are using article marketing as a method of link building.
The practice is not without controversy. In an article titled, Dear Google… Stop Making Me Look Like a Fool!, Jill Whalen, of High Rankings, expressed her distaste of the practice of article marketing simply for the sake of building links. I couldn’t agree with her more!
Spamming the Web with “spun” articles, across a wide network of article directories, adds no value to the user experience when they are searching for good content about a topic.
Unfortunately, in the current search engine environment, this practice does indeed work for building links to a website, and increasing keyword rankings. While this statement may also be food for debate, it has been my personal experience that this works. Yes, I’ve actually engaged in this practice! Never, ever for a client. But, I have experimented with the tactic for websites that I personally own.
Why would I ever do this? I am firmly in the “white hat” camp when it comes to SEO. I believe that building a great user experience on your website, creating truly valuable content, and making people aware of that content (through social media and more-traditional PR outreach) is the best way to engage in an SEO campaign. By “making people aware of that content”, I practice appropriate etiquette, and do not blindly broadcast a message that shouts “please link to me!” But, over the years (much like Jill), I have continuously bumped into competitors of my clients that engage in spammy link-building techniques, including publishing inferior content across article directories.
Because I have been frustrated with seeing my clients’ competitors win in the quest for keyword rankings using these tactics, I did what any good SEO practitioner would do – I experimented. It took me roughly 9 years in the SEO trenches to finally succumb to trying article marketing solely for the sake of link building.
I still find the practice distasteful. But it’s worked for me.
The practice is still something I would be highly reluctant to recommend to a client. Especially to a company that carefully manages its brand. Pushing out low-value content across the Web will eventually come back to haunt you – either through risking damaging your brand, or by eventually getting “caught” by Google and other engines, and risking losing keyword positions, or having your site devalued on a broader scale in the search engines’ indices.
That all said, I do think there is a place for B2B companies to engage intelligently in article marketing. A good link to your site will always be valuable. Maybe not from a keyword ranking standpoint, but at least from the standpoint of bringing qualified visitors to your website.
The key is to produce valuable content. Produce content that will position you, your company, or its staff as subject matter experts.
By publishing articles in relevant article websites, and in article sites that have real traffic and value (here’s a good reference point for finding these directories), your articles will often be found in SERPs by users. If the content is good, it will serve you well in establishing you as an authority in that particular subject.The reader may find the content of enough value to either click through a link you provide (in the body of an article, or in your author profile), or go back to a search engine and re-query your name, or your company’s name.
In the current search engine environment, those links often help boost your website’s authority in search engines, and can directly help boost a target keyword’s ranking.
For a B2B company, or for any company, that combination of brand building, direct traffic generation, and link presence, is a win-win-win situation.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.