Is article marketing dead in 2012? 2011 was the eventful year with the Google Panda Update being rolled out by Google. There have been countless articles about whether article marketing still works. Here, I will present my own views and my own experience with article marketing. Let me see if I can answer whether the Google Panda Update killed article marketing or is it still a potent tool to use.
What is Article Marketing?
The idea behind article marketing is simple – you contribute an article in return for links. Lets look at how both parties here benefit.
The article marketing site benefits because it gets access to fresh, unique and good quality content absolutely free of cost. This is not easy to come by. So how does the site use this article? Simple, advertising mostly. If you look at popular article marketing directories like EzineArticles, you will find a ton of advertisements. These sites make millions of dollars every year from advertising (it was much higher prior to the Panda Update). Every article it gets contributes to this cost. There is no charge in obtaining these articles as they are submitted free of cost.
For the article marketer or writer, article marketing sites provide a good quality, high PageRank backlink. This helps new sites steadily grow up in Google search results. It also improves the PageRank of the site being linked to, which is a good addition to have in the long run. Article marketing provides an easy way to get good links back to your site, especially during the initial days when no one knows about your site.
How Article Marketing was Abused
Let me briefly talk about how article marketing was abused in general by webmasters and small businesses. They would hire article writers from sites like oDesk or Elance and produce a bunch of articles barely meeting the quality requirement in these article directories. These were just artificial ways to increase the number of backlinks and the site provided no more authority on the topic than it did before the marketing campaign.
Another common source of abuse was the proliferation of article spinners. These can be good tools but very easy to abuse. Essentially, they just product a bunch of replicas of a single article so they appear unique and then send them all over the internet. This was just an abuse of the system.
How Article Marketing Seemed Meaningless to Google: The Reason for Panda
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Google wasn’t particularly fond of these article directories and article marketing in general. Part of the reason was described above – the system was abused. However, there are more fundamental flaws in the system.
Suppose I am a great writer and can write a very good article for my blog. Because it is new, it would appear way behind in search engine rankings. However, when I publish a far lower quality article on an article marketing site, it ranks highly because it has a high PR and is better established. See the problem? Google survives because it provides the best and most relevant results on top. With article marketing these articles seldom provide the full information – you need to go to the contributor’s website to know more (the good quality article).
My Personal Experience
I have a lot of experience with article marketing and over the years, I have seen its effectiveness decrease. Couple of years ago, it was a very potent tool for webmasters and small businesses. However, today it is certainly far less effective.
When I started off blogging (not GeeksMakeMoney, which is relatively new) I used article marketing to promote my blog. However, I was quite frustrated when I found that my article in the article directory would rank higher than my blog! This didn’t seem right because my blog had far more information than just a small article I write to promote it.
It was also quite frustrating to see low and substandard articles outperform my blog simply because they were on more established sites. This happened regularly with Squidoo, with the lenses beating my blog even though they contained outdated information.
With the Google panda, however, I was very happy to see all these go down in search rankings and my blog had come up first. This helped me quite a lot and I wrote an article about it on Problogger as well. Even now, when I look at keywords in my particular niche, I see article directories quite down the list. Couple of years ago, I would find all the top searches dominated with these.
So Is Article Marketing Dead?
Not necessarily. If you are starting a brand new site which no one knows about and you want some quick reasonably good links, this is an easy way to go about it. In addition, it helps Google index your site soon, so you can be assured of showing up in the search results.
That being said, I wouldn’t advise you to spend a lot of time on article marketing as a tool to promote your blog. If you have time, look for other methods. Try guest posting or try building relationships with other bloggers in your area. Better still, try to master social media and learn the new modes of information exchange on the internet like podcasts, videos, etc.
You might still want to use article marketing and perhaps it can give good results for very low competition keywords but I wouldn’t spend too much time with these.
Are you into article marketing today? Previously? I would love to hear your experience and thoughts!