Thinking about link building through article directories? Seriously? Don’t do it. Why? Because Matt Cutts said so.
Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, likes to answer questions from users every now and then. The last one was from Deepika of India who asked:
“Links from relevant content in article directories – Seen as good or bad? eg. I link my beauty website from a cosmetic surgery article on say, Ezine? Would you do that?”
In typical Google fashion, Matt’s Youtube video response skirted around being overly direct, but his point was unmistakable.
“I wouldn’t necessarily count that as effective,” he said.
In case you need a refresher, article directories let you submit your own articles, often allowing you to embed a few links to pages of your choice. If people found the content useful enough, they could download it and use it on their own site. This had a lot of appeal as not only would you get some back links from the article directory itself, but potentially anyone else who might post it on their site, links and all.
It was a great concept, but back before the Panda and Penguin updates, SEOs used to abuse this by generating hundreds, sometimes thousands of articles for their clients with back links to the pages and sites they were optimizing. In order to generate that much content, they would use article spinners that would turn one article into hundreds or even thousands of low quality spun articles. As a result, Google has made changes to their algorithm so that links from article directories no longer have as much weight as they used to. There is still the possibility that some article directories might bounce back if they tighten their quality standards. However, even then, it’s not expected to be anywhere near as good as it used to be.
So where are we supposed to get back links? Well, it looks like everyone is driving content marketing into the ground right now. It’s an excellent way of delivering value, building an audience and converting their engagement into revenue. However, there is simply so much competition and content to compete with that establishing yourself will be difficult. However, if you deliver enough valuable content in the form of blog posts, videos, slides and the like, people will naturally link back to you.
Of course, these days, the name of the game isn’t just about natural back links and content marketing, but about establishing yourself on various social media channels as well. According to SEO-Alien:
With the explosion of Social Media, the share, the like and the re-tweet could now be trumping the ever important backlink. Though, at this time, Google will deny that they use Social Media likes and shares in their algorithms, though anyone using Google Analytics can see that Google keeps track of all the likes and shares.
At the moment, social networks like Facebook and Twitter don’t share any specifics with Google and other search engines about users, groups and pages that have driven referral traffic to your site through likes, shares and tweets. Still, referral data is being tracked from these sites, if only to identify traffic that came from these specific social networks, but nothing more. However, I do expect that they will eventually figure it out and pretty soon they’ll be a huge part of the next tactic that SEOs will start capitalizing on.
At this point and for the foreseeable future, it’s best to stay away from article directories for SEO purposes. Focus on your content creation and social media strategies to naturally build back links and social engagement with your site instead.