Wasif Shafiq SMART SEO +92-312-4729067 support@smartseo.pk
My 7 Favorite Free eBooks on SEO and Social Media

I’ve written a lot, on this and other sites, about ebooks. They’re powerful tools for numerous reasons, from the marketing perspective. You can share your insights, you can build a reputation, you use them to get an in with influencers, you can harvest email addresses, and you can even just sell them for profit. For something so easy to create, it’s a wonder there aren’t so many more than there already are.

Today, however, I’m going to approach the topic from another perspective; that of the engaged reader. I don’t just write about eBooks, I read them too. Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorites, new and old, that have proven themselves to be either interesting reads or lasting resources.

SEO Myths by Hubspot

The world of SEO is constantly changing. Sometimes the shakeups are huge, like Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, and all the rest of the Google petting zoo. Sometimes they’re a lot smaller, like little changes Facebook makes to EdgeRank. In any case, there’s one persistent problem with SEO information online, and that’s that it stays online. Something written in 2010 is still available to be read today, and might even top the search rankings, even though the information is long out of date and the post abandoned.

The reason I like Hubspot’s SEO Myths book is because it addresses these common, persistent myths. This year’s edition covers 17, as did last year’s, and that’s the beauty of it; they keep it up to date. You can expect to get the new version at the beginning of each new year, to help you stay abreast of new developments or abolish old habits you should have abandoned when the initial changes were made.

Hubspot asks for a bunch of information, including your name, website, company name and business size. Still, it’s free, and you don’t have to stay signed on to their mailing list if you won’t want to.

SEO Now by Linkdex

This fantastic book wasn’t just written by a single person, it has over two dozen contributors from a range of companies, including Expedia, Home Depot, AOL and Linkdex itself.

The 2015 version of the book is 175 pages long, and it’s positively packed with information about SEO from a wide range of perspectives. You get all sorts of information for businesses of all sizes and scopes, some of which have had rocky histories with the industry and have personal insight to share.

The real meat, in my view, comes from the 2014 version of the book. This was their first edition, and it weighs in at over 350 pages. It also interviews a wide range of thought leaders and industry personalities, and is just as easy to get a hold of.

EDIT: The 2014 version no longer exists; they replaced it with the 2015 version

Hobo’s SEO Training Book

Written by one of the larger UK-based SEO firms, Hobo, this book is a basic but solid resource. They keep it up to date and it’s full of basic SEO information. Advanced marketers can give this one a pass, but anyone just getting into SEO – or wanting to train someone new – should check this book out. It’s an excellent beginner’s guide, and it can even surprise intermediate SEOs with the information it contains.

The SEO Survival Guide by Weidert


Probably one of the shortest books on this list, rather than digging deep into theory and case studies, this book mostly just gives you immediate, actionable techniques. Learn a solid SEO research strategy, implement some basic link building, use some intermediate social media techniques, and optimize your site with these tips.

Moz is such a big name it’s astonishing to find them only on this list once, but it’s mostly because this one guide is more or less the compilation of everything they know. It’s labeled a beginner’s guide, but it’s really a guide for marketers of all stripes, they just didn’t want to be off-putting with the title.

It’s also available completely free, no strings attached, online at the link in the title up there. You can download a PDF for your own use as well, for those times when you don’t have access to the website.

10 Toxic SEO Techniques by Wikimotive

All of the other books on this list are about what to do; this one is about what not to do. This is a great book for beginners or for old-time marketers who haven’t paid much attention to the way the industry has been evolving. It’s also good for sharing with those stubborn business owners who are set in their ways and don’t want to take your advice.

Keyword Research: A Real-World Guide by Copyblogger

Copyblogger is another of those big names in SEO, and this guide is a pretty great guide to how keywords work in this modern age, how to research them without the ultra-convenient and now-defunct Google tools, as well as what to do with those keywords when you find them. If keyword evaluation has ever been your weak point, it’s worth giving this a read.

Copyblogger does claim you need to be a member in order to read the book, but it’s easy enough to create a free membership, plus you get access to the rest of the free content they share for members. It’s worth it, as far as I’m concerned.

Honorable Mention:

The Link Building Book by Paddy Moogan

Link building is a complex affair, and it’s made even more complex by how tightly Google likes to regulate it. Numerous strategies skirt the line of white and black hat, and some have even flipped from one side to the other in the last few years. Guest posts, anyone?

Paddy’s book is nearly 300 pages long and it serves as an excellent guide for all things link building. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend reading it all in one sitting, but it’s worth a solid read and a lot of referencing. I actually printed out a copy so I could bookmark and highlight passages I wanted to reference on hand. The only reason it’s not a main part of this list is the $37 price tag.


How to Use Google Trends for Website Content Ideas

Google trends started ten years ago in 2004, and has done nothing but grow since its inception.  With billions of search queries made every year, Google has an incredible wealth of data on their hands.  Trends is their way of allowing you, the regular user and blogger, to access that data.  Using it successfully allows you to capitalize on trending topics to create blog posts your users are interested in seeing, the moment they want to see them.

To really capitalize on trends, you need a fast content creation process.  You can’t write blog posts based on current trends now, only to have them published two months from now.  The trending topics will have changed and your news is old news by then.  No, to make use of trends, you need a fast turnaround from research to writing to publication.

Expand Keyword Research

By using your usual tools for keyword research, you can come up with topics related to your niche with a high traffic flow.  Take that list of keywords and run them through Google trends.  You’ll be able to see graphs of the interest in those keywords over time, but that’s not really why you’re here.

The real goal of running your keywords through trends is to see the related and rising keyword lists below the graph.  The related list will be Google’s suggestions of related keywords, though any other Google source for related keywords should display a similar list.  The rising list, however, is more useful.  It will list any related keywords that are on the rise over the most recent few days, or whichever time period you have selected.

Another check you can run in trends is the list of keywords you’re already targeting.  Check your oldest keywords and see if their trends are pointing down.  If so, you might consider editing old content to update it for new versions of those keywords, rather than letting them drag down your content

Content Idea Creation

The greatest power behind Google Trends is the up to the minute ongoing collection of trending information.  Choose a category in trends, then a subcategory, and click to explore that category.  The categories, if you can’t find them, are on the left sidebar under Top Charts.

You’ll be taken to the same page as you would if you typed in a word, but the difference is you’re getting queries that already have at least a minimal amount of search traffic.  Scroll down, under the chart, to the related keyword queries at the bottom.  Click to the rising and see what’s there.  Any query will show the percentage it has risen over the last few days.  What you’re really interested in is any keyword that’s listed as “breakout.”  A breakout keyword is a keyword that has risen over 5000% and has thus “broken” the rankings.

You can use these rising keywords to look for trending topics to cover with your blog posts.  Search in categories that relate to your niche, or in categories you’re interested in and may be able to tie back into your business.  This essentially streamlines the process of newsjacking.

Competitor Awareness

One little trick you can pull off with trends is a bit of competitor awareness.  You can plug in your competitor’s brand name and see how they’re trending in the short or longer term.  If they’re on the rise, you can perform deeper research to figure out why, and how you can take advantage of their strategies for yourself.

For a direct side-by-side comparison, you can use the “add term” button to add your own brand name or keywords, which will display as a second line on the same chart.  Where do you stand compared to the other businesses in your niche?

Historical Data

Instead of viewing trends over the last few days or weeks, stretch the timeline out to a full year or more.  With data stretching all the way back to 2004, Google has plenty of information you can use to plan your content in the future.  You’ll notice, for most general keywords, a relatively fixed trend that changes from month to month is a mostly defined pattern.  You can use this data to predict when a topic will be trending, and thus prepare to post about that topic just as it is reaching its peak.

This only works with the most general or long-lived keywords.  Running searches for the Apple Watch, for example, won’t get you a lot of historical data; after all, the device was only just announced.  By contrast, you can run a search for Halloween decorations and see the very defined peaks every October.  That’s logical, of course, but some time-sensitive trends may surprise you.

Embedded Data

Okay, so this one isn’t really an idea to generate more content for your site; rather, it helps you supplement the content you’re already creating.  Any time you’re coming up with a keyword trend you want to mention, consider whether your readers would benefit from seeing that trend graph in action.  Sure, they could go out and see it themselves, but wouldn’t it be handy to embed it?  Thankfully, Google Trends allows you to do just that.  Beneath any particular part of the trends information is a </> symbol.  That symbol, when you click it, pops up embed code to add that particular information to your site.  It’s quick, easy and updated whenever the user loads the page.

Pulling it All Together

With trends, you have a powerful idea creation engine and a keyword research tool rolled into one.  All you need to do is identify keywords that are at once rising and maintaining a significant search volume.  These can be keywords related to your niche, keywords related to current events, business decisions or anything else.  So long as you’re identifying keywords, you can put them to use.

The second step, once you have those keywords, is to morph them into a topic.  You can take those keywords to title generators for brainstorming ideas, or you can run them through Google News to see what others are already saying.  This has the added benefit of giving you sites you can link to for further information, and which may link back to you in return.  From there, all you need to do is the hard part; the writing of the post itself.

5 Strategies to Make Your Website Multi-Country Friendly

The glory of the Internet is that it is truly a globally accessible network.  Anyone, whether they’re from the southern tip of Africa, the northern tundra of Russia or the deep mountains of China, can access your website.  Okay, well, China might block your site and there’s probably spotty Internet access in Siberia, but that’s beside the point.  What matters is that an online business that neither has nor wants a local focus can take advantage of global availability to market and sell around the world.

The problems with taking advantage of a global audience are perhaps larger than many online businesses realize.  There are the obvious issues, such as the language barrier that makes sales and customer support more difficult.  There are the logistical issues with accepting sales in various currencies and, if a physical product is involved, shipping globally.  Then there are the tricky digital issues, relating to proper markup and SEO, which are often overlooked until it’s too late.

1. Redirected Localization or User Selection

One major choice you need to make is how automatic – and how rigid – you want to make your user language and geolocation detection.  You essentially have two options.

First option: a rigid detected redirect.  You use either HTTP redirect codes or JavaScript to detect the IP address and location of the user.  Using this location, you force redirect the user to the most appropriate version of your site.  This runs into issues with users using proxies for one reason or another, and running JavaScript has the added issue of requiring a user to load the script before the redirect happens, lengthening the already long global load times.  It can be an effective solution when you’re only targeting, say, the US and the UK, but when you have a list of countries longer than three or four, it can be more complicated than it’s worth.

The second option is to allow the user to select their location.  Create a regional dialogue box separated either by country or language, and allow the user to choose their location from the list.  This allows users traveling abroad to select their home country easily.  It also allows you to limit load times.  Typically these dialogues either list countries in their native language or list flag icons to help users pick their location when reading a language they don’t understand.

2. Localize Your Content Intelligently

When you’re targeting countries other than your own, you have a potential issue with the quality of your content.  You cannot just post the same content you do on your normal site, run through a Fiverr translator or a Google translate box.  You’re going to run the risk of looking very poorly developed.

At the very minimum, you should hire a native speaker to localize your content for you.  This should extend to dialects of English, particularly with UK/AUS spellings of common English words.  It’s even more important with non-English languages, because if you’re not fluent in both, you have no way to control your quality internally.

If you want to truly excel in the field, you should hire a stable of local writers for each region and give them limited creative control.  Your content will work best when it has a familiarity with local issues that you can’t get with an out-of-region content producer.  You don’t know the tensions and conflicts in the lives of users in rural France, so don’t try to write as if you do; hire someone who does.

As you reach a wider audience with more regions, you’re going to run into issues with expense and content volume.  At some point you need to decide what regions you’re going to focus on and what regions you’re going to go with the bare minimum blog.

3. Employ Graphics Wherever Possible

A picture is worth a thousand words, but the important part is that those words are universal.  A picture of children smiling is the same in its essence, regardless of whether you’re a reader in America or a reader in Japan.  Posting image content, graphical content, allows you to have a coherent brand image throughout different regions.

There are two major considerations with images for a global audience.  The first is text.  Text on images is a great way to entice a certain audience, but it alienates other audiences when they can’t read the images.  Automatic translation software can’t translate images, after all.  Save the image text for captions, or make multiple versions of the images for different regional sites.

The second consideration is the connotations of the images you use.  Different colors, primarily, have different meanings in different regions.  It’s fairly unlikely that you’re going to ruin your brand because you chose the wrong color font, but what looks appealing to your eye might not be as appealing to a reader in another country.  It just emphasizes the care you need to put into the content you create.

4. Localize your Checkout Process

Would you trust buying a product from a website if you added an item to your cart, hit the check out button and found yourself on a page completely written in Chinese?  Chances are you’d abandon that cart right away and find another location to buy the product you wanted.  Don’t fall victim to the reverse side of that coin; localize your checkout page.

One primary consideration you need to make is whether or not your products will ship to the region specified.  Newegg is good about this.  Just find one of their products on sale and change your region; you’ll see the availability change.  You want users to know whether or not you ship to their location before they add anything to the cart.

You also need to have a currency conversion plugin installed.  USD is something of a global currency, along with the Euro, but few users know offhand how much either is in their own currency.  Rather than force them to look up conversion rates, set the price in their local currency.  It’s also easier to set prices globally than it is to set one price and try to dynamically convert it in the checkout process.

5. Remember Global SEO Factors

SEO on a global scale is somewhat different from the typical American SEO that we see so much about online.  You have a lot to worry about.  Do you go with a country code TLD or a regular .com?  Do you segregate country sites through subdomains or subdirectories?  Do you host multiple sites on regional servers for faster loading?  Do you work to build foreign backlinks to your regional versions of your site?  All of this and more needs to be decided before you can even begin building multiregional sites.

In general, you need to make sure your site works as well as possible for every region you target.  Functionality in additional regions is a bonus.  Make sure to avoid duplicate content issues and notify Google of the intended region for each sub-site.


What Are Inbound Marketing Channels?

When you think of traditional, old-school marketing, what comes to mind? Sending out pamphlets in the mail, running television and radio advertisements, putting up billboards by the highway, and other such techniques? Those are known as outbound marketing, and they have been made largely obsolete by the power of the Internet.

Oh, outbound marketing still has a place, but it’s expensive and has low returns. Communication with outbound marketing is strictly one-way. There’s no sales interaction, no previous interest, just a message, and the hope that the people you reach will remember your contact information and look you up later.

Contrast this with inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is two-way communication between you and your users. You put out information and your users find you, through search, social media, referrals, and other lead generation sources.

Inbound marketing is a process with several steps.

1. Turn strangers into visitors by attracting them through various channels and media.
2. Turn visitors into leads by enticing them with calls to action on your landing pages.
3. Turn leads into customers by closing the deal with a two-way conversation.
4. Turn customers into testimonials by exceeding their expectations and encouraging them to refer more strangers.

So what channels are considered inbound marketing, and how can you leverage them for your business?

Attract With Blogging

Telling a business to use a blog is old news by now, but it’s still highly valuable advice. Your blog is one of the most potent inbound marketing channels you have. It’s a space you can control completely, where you can showcase your opinions, insight, and information for the public. Every page on your blog is a route a user can find to enter your inbound marketing funnel. The more pages you have, the more chances a user will find their way to your site – assuming those pages are valuable enough to keep their attention. The moment quality drops, those pages may as well be rubber, you’ll see so many bounces.

Attract With Social Media

Social media plays off having a blog and a solid base of content, but it’s also a microcosm in and of itself. Your blog is valuable, but it’s still often passive. A social media profile is a place where your potential users can immediately ask a question and reasonably expect a quick answer. Every time this happens, it’s an opening for a sales hook. Different social networks cater to different audiences, so picking the right ones is essential for leveraging it as an inbound marketing channel.

Attract With SEO and Organic Search

SEO, and with it, organic search is another way your marketing plays off the existence of your website. Unlike social networking, however, this one can’t stand on its own. SEO is the art of optimizing your existing content to show up in search engines. Know your audience, know your products, and know-how people search for what they want to find. Once you know all of that, you can tailor your content to guarantee your content will show up when the user searches, thus bringing them into your funnel.

Attract With Page Optimization

Page optimization is similar to search engine optimization, with an eye towards the user experience. Your goal with optimizing a page is to make it as easy as possible for a new reader to come in, see your content, see your call to action and slip down the funnel to your product pages, where ideally they will convert. In reality, this often requires several repeat visits, high-quality content, ideal products, low pricing, and all the other means of attracting a user, but it’s all boiled down to one thing; making it as easy as possible for the user to convert.

Convert With Calls to Action

A call to action can take many forms, from text to graphics to video annotations. At the core, they’re all the same thing; a subtle or not-so-subtle encouragement for the user to perform some action you want them to perform. Maybe it’s following your Facebook page, maybe it’s signing up for your newsletter or maybe it’s buying your product; the outcome is the same. You’re using your most persuasive language to get users to bend to your will.

Convert With Landing Pages

Your landing page, technically, is any page the user lands on after finding your site. In the case of organic traffic, you have no control; it’s whatever page shows up in search. For other marketing channels, like advertisements, social media posts, and other links, you have complete control over the first thing a user sees when they click. You can optimize your landing pages, then, for the best conversion rates.

Convert With a Contact Database

Several of the previous entries on this list center around getting users to register for your mailing list. This mailing list is a potent database of contact information for users who were at one point interested enough in your business and product to want to know more. You can leverage this information to reach these people again, whether it’s with targeted ads, personal emails, or some other form of contact.

Convert With Email Campaigns

When a user signs up for your mailing list, you have an immediate opportunity to thank them and send a drip-fed specialized new contact email campaign to encourage them to buy your product. The typical process is to teach them about the problem your product fixes, and why that problem is a problem for them. Only at the end do you reveal that you have the solution to that problem.

Satisfy With Quality Products

Once a user is convinced to buy your product, you have successfully completed the transaction. There’s nothing more for you to do. Or is there? In fact, users expect ongoing support and satisfaction with the products they buy. If the product you ship is sub-par, they will call you out on it. Too many such negative reviews form a roadblock in your sales funnel, keeping other users from converting. It’s your responsibility to make sure you exceed their expectations with the quality of the product or service you sold them.

Satisfy With Customer Service

In the instance that your product does not perform, is broken or the user needs help using it, customer service comes in. The idea of “making things right” with your customers is the core to customer service. Build a reputation for making sure your product is supported, and you’ll gain the goodwill of your users. Rather than a stumbling block of negative reviews, you’ll convert buyers into walking advertisements for your brand.





7 Strategies to Diversify Your Link Building Plan

Do you know where your links are coming from? Are they stacked against you? Links are an incredibly important part of SEO, and they can be tricky to get just right. Even if you’re focusing on quality links from one source, you’ll likely encounter the issue of an unbalanced link profile. Too many links from one source look unnatural and can be just as dangerous to your SEO as using black hat link building techniques. You need to diversify, and here’s how.

1. Vary the Anchor Text of your Incoming Links

One link-related penalty doesn’t care where the link is. If every link you have coming into your site has the same keyword for anchor text, you’re doing yourself no favors. Varied anchor text is just as important as varied sources for your links.

The first thing you need to do is analyze the anchor text of all of the links coming into your site. How many variations are there? A larger number is better here. Once you know if you have an issue, you can take steps to fix it. On sites and posts, you control, go back, and edit the link text. It will take a while for the changes to propagate through Google’s index, but they will be beneficial when they take hold.

Once you have taken steps to change existing links, change your strategy for building more links. Encourage natural phrase links, rather than specific keywords or brand names. Google is hinting at brand mentions – the unlinked mention of your name – is a potent factor in future SEO. Double up on your SEO link power by including brand mentions along with your link.

2. Use Your Newsletter to Request Backlinks

One surprisingly effective technique for social media engagement is to simply ask for what you want. Asking users for likes and shares is effective in earning your likes and shares. Why would it be any less effective in other areas?

In this case, you can diversify your link base by asking for links from your readers. If you’re in a tech-focused field especially, it’s surprisingly easy to pull in relevant backlinks just by asking your audience.

Your newsletter is already populated by some of the most engaged readers you have. Many of them have websites of their own, in the same niche or a related field. Make sure you specify relevant links! If you’re a blog dealing with SEO, you likely don’t need a link from a quilting site. All you have to do is include a paragraph in your next newsletter explaining that you’re working on a new link campaign and hope your readers can contribute by linking to your pages on their sites.

3. Ego Bait Influencers with Interviews

Most entrepreneurs don’t get where they are by being reserved introverts. They have a passion for what they do and they have an aggressive sense of self-promotion to make it happen. This makes them successful in their endeavors, but it also makes them vulnerable to ego baiting.

Ego baiting comes in many forms. The main idea is to appeal to the ego of an influencer and thought leader in your niche, in some way. Attract their attention by mentioning and complimenting them. This puts you in a good light – flattery gets you everywhere – and makes them more likely to link to you.

One way to ego bait is the interview. Entrepreneurs like being considered knowledgeable and experienced enough to be consulted as an authority. Interview them about the niche, their business, current events, anything that strikes your fancy. Publish the interview on your site. Chances are very good that the interviewee will then link to your site to promote their interview. Just like that, you have a quality backlink from an authoritative source.

4. Join Discussions and Add Relevant Content Links

The process of link dropping is somewhat frowned upon in most Internet communities. In some, it’s actively discouraged through heavy moderation and account penalties. That’s with link dropping that involves you coming out of nowhere, joining in on a discussion you weren’t part of, throwing your link at the group of users, and never returning. Such practice is, understandably, disruptive, and ineffective.

If you use it properly, however, you can convert link dropping from a shady ineffective technique into a valid use of your time. The key is participation. First, you need to find relevant discussions. You can do this by searching for communities dedicated to your niche on web forums, searching though Twitter and Facebook hashtags, and joining LinkedIn groups.

Once you have identified communities holding ongoing discussions relevant to your niche, step in, and participate. Offer your opinions on the matter at hand. Within a few posts, you can provide a link to your content. This gives you time to pick a blog post that best fits the topic at hand, or gives you the chance to write a new one to fit the community.

5. Investigate Industry Relations and Offer Guest Posts

This one you should be doing on an ongoing basis throughout your content marketing. Always be vigilant, looking for blogs, authorities, influencers, and thought leaders in your niche and any related niche. Identify these blogs and rank them by their domain authority and relevance to your site. Start at the top of this list and work your way down, getting as many guest posts on as many of them as you can, staggered throughout the months.

Guest posts are great, though their utility has declined in recent months. Google doesn’t like it when you pay for guest posts and followed links. What it likes is when you organically develop connections with these sites, and a guest post is a great place to start. It puts you in their field of view. In the future, they’ll know your site and they’ll recognize your connection. You can work to build a relationship from there, with value for both parties.

6. Disavow or NoFollow Old Paid Links or Negative SEO Links

Part of diversifying your future link base is dealing with the actions of the past that continue to hold negative consequences for your future. There are a few things you can do here.

• Locate links to your site on dead, irrelevant, or spam sites and use the Google Disavow Links tool to get rid of their negative influence on your SEO.
• Look for signs of a Negative SEO attack and similarly disavow any such links. While it’s questionable whether Negative SEO is effective, it can’t hurt to remove such links from the calculations.
• Look for old links you paid for and request they be changed to NoFollow if they aren’t already. Google sometimes assigns a penalty to sites lined on known link sellers, so paying for links can hurt you. Setting those links to NoFollow – or disavowing them – gets them away from a healthy link profile.

7. Focus on Varied Link Sources Using Link Detective

This process requires a few specific tools and steps. First, use the Moz Open Site Explorer to download your site’s link profile as a CSV. Take this CSV file and run it through Link Detective. This will scan and categorize your links by the type of site they come from. You’ll be able to see, in a handy chart, how many of your links come from articles, directories, comments, profiles, and a handful of other sources.

With this information, you can see categories of links you’ve been neglecting. This will vary from blog to blog, of course. Identify the weak points in your link program and search for relevant sites that fit the criteria. Target your links to broaden your profile for maximum benefit.

7 Reasons Why Article Directories Will Hurt Your Site

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.