Matt Cutts: Use article directories for links? Just not


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If you’ve been in the SEO industry for more than a few years, you probably remember the days when article directories were all the rage. You can write a quick article, submit it to hundreds of article directories, link it to your site, in the hope that others will post it on their own sites to add content.

However, with duplicate content filters and link penalties, article directories have definitely fallen out of favor for many webmasters. That said, there are many article directories that are still actively soliciting articles and editors who continue to repost that content.

What is Google’s official position on article directories such as Ezine in 2014 – good or bad? That’s the topic of Matt Cutts’ latest webmaster help video, which begins with a history lesson on the rise of article directories:

Over time, article directories have gotten a little worse. So just jog everyone’s memory, an article directory is basically where you write 3, 4, 500 words of content and then include a little bio or information about yourself at the bottom of the article, and you might have three links with keyword rich anchor text at the bottom of this article. And then you submit that to a bunch of what’s called article directories, and then anyone can download them or maybe pay to download them, and they’ll use them on their own website.

Although the video specifically mentions ezine.com, there are hundreds of similar article directories which all accept articles from site owners and publishers. While sites often make money from advertising articles or even spyware and malware, the authors hope others will syndicate them and get links, or at least some traffic.

The theory behind this is that if someone finds it useful and puts it on their webpage then you might get some links. Now in practice what we have seen is that this often tends to be a little lower in quality. And in fact, we’ve seen more and more instances where you end up with really spammy content sprayed and syndicated all over the web. So in my opinion article directories and just trying to write an article and syndicating it in a wild way or just uploading it to all the sites in the world and hoping everyone uploads it and the will be using on their website, I wouldn’t necessarily rely on this being effective.

SEOs largely ditched article directories many years ago, but there are still new webmasters who see the opportunity, think it’s a great idea, but don’t realize the implications. The reality is that article directories have been overwritten with shoddy content, stolen, or containing spam, but many just don’t realize it.

Cutts also suggested that their search algorithm filters out, if not penalizes, mass spam from article directories.

“We definitely have some algorithmic stuff that would mean it’s probably a little less likely to be successful now compared to a few years ago, for example,” Cutts said. “So my personal recommendation would probably be not to upload an article like that.”

While many SEO practitioners haven’t dabbled in article directories for several years, it’s clear that some webmasters still don’t realize it’s a bad idea. Right now, the most useful things a webmaster can use for an article directory site are to simply get topic ideas and then rewrite them in their own words for their own sites, because there is no ranking benefit to submitting to them.

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