Article marketing used to be a very popular SEO technique about 6 years ago. The main idea behind the concept would be that you could write an article on a topic related to your niche and submit it to as many online article directories as you could. It was also possible to use the article “spinner” that would automatically generate unique content based on one unique article that you wrote. You would then get a link back to your site. Article marketing by submitting to directories was very popular back then for a good reason: it actually worked.

Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case anymore. In fact, submitting articles to various directories, even the popular ones, isn’t just pointless, it can actually harm your site. Here are some reasons why:

1. Your Articles Will Often Be of Poor Quality

The fact is, the majority of people are simply poor writers. And we all know that with the recent algorithm updates, Google frowns upon poor quality content. Some webmasters believe that they can outsmart Google by posting hundreds of articles to various directories and in order to do so, they will hire dirt cheap writers that promise to give them “quality, unique articles” for a low price like $1 each. In most cases, what you will get in return are articles that are so poorly written that you’re left scratching your head as to what the author was trying to mean. Other times, the work will simply be plagiarized, with the “writer” lifting an existing article from the web and changing a few words here and there. Using such articles for SEO is at best a waste of time, at worst a way to incur a severe penalty.

2. Article Directories Themselves are Repositories of Bad Content

Even if you do manage to write highly engaging, unique, and interesting content, your articles will be placed on a website where good content quality is the exception, rather than the norm. If you want proof, simply go read other articles on the directory that you’re uploading to. Many will be loaded with spelling and grammar errors. Others will be nothing more than thinly-veiled advertisements for whatever website the author is promoting in their links, without giving the reader any useful information. Because of this, search engines like Google tend to have a pretty low opinion of article directories.

3. Article Directories Give a Bad User Experience

Due to the poor quality of the content presented, very few articles in directories will actually be useful to a human reader that is looking for an answer to a question they have or to gather information on a certain topic they’re interested in. For this reason, Google will give very little value to article directories themselves. If you do a query now, you are very unlikely to find content from directories on the first page, unless you are searching for a very specific and obscure keyword.

4. Duplicate Content Is Bad

Most webmasters know that having duplicate content on their own site is very bad for SEO. But so is posting the same article to dozens of different sites with your links in them. In an effort to get around this, some will choose to use article spinning software that will introduce subtle variations within the text to make it appear unique.

This may have worked back in 2009, but doesn’t anymore. Google’s most recent algorithm updates are now able to detect more spun and “nearly identical” content than before. This can lead to your site being penalized in rankings.

5. Too Many Links Within the Content

Rules related to the number of links you may include within your article will vary from one directory to the next. Some will allow only one or two links, while others don’t place a limit on the number that you can include. Some webmasters will abuse this option and fill their articles with links back to their website. The result: the article produced would look unprofessional to a human reader and will bear all the hallmarks of a “made for SEO” piece.

Google is now smart enough to detect excessive links within content, especially placing links where they just wouldn’t make sense to a human reader. Therefore, there are really no SEO benefits to putting a dozen links in your articles and uploading them to a directory.

6. There are Better Places to Post Your Content To

Just because article directories are now mostly dead when it comes to SEO, it doesn’t mean that content marketing is out. Search engines like Google still love high-quality, informative, and original content. If you are able to produce such content or have it produced for you, don’t waste it by uploading it to low-quality article directories. There are many places where your content will be very useful and will bring you SEO benefits, in addition to traffic to your own site.

Starting your own blog will definitely still be beneficial, as long as it is updated regularly with fresh content that is related to your niche. You can use social media to further promote your blog posts and bring attention to them.

Another way to take advantage of your content is to become a guest blogger on another website. This will give you the possibility of gaining high-quality backlinks to your site and can even help you build authority in your niche. But you have to be careful about where you make these posts. Blogs that allow anyone to submit posts about anything they want are usually not appreciated very much by Google. Instead, you should build relationships with other webmasters that run a blog that is related to your niche. While very few will be able to get their posts published on a major website like Forbes or Cnet, if you take the time to network, you might be able to become a guest blogger on sites that has a good reputation and is already ranked high in search results.

7. You, Will, Be Wasting Your Time and Money

All the time that you spend creating, buying or spinning articles that end up on article directories, plus all the money you would spend on automatic publishing tools, content spinners, and premium memberships at directories (which actually don’t give you anything useful) can be better spent on things that will actually be beneficial for your site.

You could use the money to develop online advertising and marketing campaigns that will bring actual quality traffic to your site, in addition to helping you become well recognized in your niche if people share your site via social media. You could also use your time to improve various on-site factors, such as creating useful content for your own site or blog, changing your site’s layout to make it more user friendly and easy to navigate or write newsletters that you would send out to the subscribers of your email list.

The Bottom Line

Essentially, article marketing by submitting content to article directories no longer works like it did before and can actually hurt your site. There are other strategies that you can use if you want to improve your website’s ranking for your targeted keywords.