It has been popular in the last few years to post articles and blogs to article sites to get good content out there that could both:
a. Be found in a Google and other search engines
b. Create backlinks to where you would really like visitors to go (e.g. you own website)
There are many articles sites but ezinearticles and hubpages were, and still are, very popular but this year we have already seen significant changes in the Google algorithm (which determines how high up your site is on Google) that means this strategy may not be as successful.
The first significant change was the clarification of the effect of ‘Duplicate Content‘. Content which is used more than once and copied across the web from blog to article sites has often created discussion on how effective this strategy is. Google have a clear aim to ‘find relevant content’. Finding the same content 20 times is not what Google wants and is also not helpful to the person doing the search. So Google’s approach has to be to try and find the one piece of content that is the most ‘official’ generator of that content and effectively ignore the rest.
Matt Cutts (unofficial spokesman for Google) gave the following pieces of advice which he published on his blog:
1) to avoid over-syndicating the articles that you write, and
2) if you do syndicate content, make sure that you include a link to the original content.
OK so we can probably deal with the duplicate content issue above by linking to our original content or even posting only original content to the article sites (e.g write an article specifically for ezinearticles and do not copy it elsewhere) but what we have now seen in the last couple of weeks is the so-called ‘Farmer or Panda Update’.
The ‘Farmer Update’ appears to be Googles attempt to reduce the effect of the sites Google see as ‘Link Farms’. Link Farms are the name given sites which really only exist to create backlinks to other sites where people want traffic. Whether sites like ezinearticles and hubpages are Link Farms in the strictest meaning of the phrase matters little at the moment as it is having a massive effect on the traffic as can be seen in an recent post by Search Engine Land. This has led to Ezinearticles saying that all links from their website will from later this month become ‘no follow’ links meaning that they should not contribute anything to Google as a backlink and hence not improve the SEO of the site you are linking to. This is possibly what Google wanted.
So what is the conclusion to all of this – only time will tell. A respected SEO expert once told me that there is no such thing as a bad link but clearly some are going to be unimportant or at least links that have little or no effect. In a world where we are short of little except time spending this time and effort writing articles and links is not going to be as effective as it has been in the past. My advice would be, like many other things, to trial it and see what the effect is but at this stage I wouldn’t be investing huge amounts of time or effort.
No doubt SEO’s are looking at other strategies to improve Google ranking etc but for me I would start with the basics of creating good content on your own sites and blogs. Have a look at a commenting strategy to maximise links and maybe look to write guest posts for other peoples blogs.
I would be interested if anyone else had an opinion or experiences with regard to article marketing and the recent Panda/Farmer Google Algorithm update.