If you are an online publisher you most likely are well aware of the Google Panda Update that was introduced a few months ago. The update actually had a pretty big impact on some major authority sites that accept low quality content (according to Google).
I have been reading many different forums and what’s funny is that some auto bloggers reported increase in search engine rankings lol (Auto-blogging is a waste of time in my opinion)
I honestly think that this change was needed because of the huge wave of spammers that spin 1 article 1000 times and blast it out to gazillion article directories. What they would do is create so called link-wheels and basically interlink content that really had no value to rank for high competitive terms. It was an effective strategy and affiliates made easy money doing it.
Let’s check out some of the sites that got hit hard
Articlesbase.com – Once upon a time this used to be top choice article directory for article marketers 🙂
EzineArticles.com – Used to pass nice link juice and if you submitted good content regularly it definitely increased your search engine rankings.
Ehow.com – They didn’t get hit at first but Google caught up eventually. They still get massive traffic compared to last year. I don’t think that Google Panda is impacting them too much, but still could in the future.
AssociatedContent.com – Getting hit hard by Panda but it’s owned by Yahoo. I think Yahoo is capable of driving tons of traffic to it without Google and we know how traffic affects rankings. Go Yahoo!
Buzzle.com – Just recently Buzzle announced that they don’t allow external links anymore in articles submitted by authors (article marketing is dead here alright). Buzzle had a smart system going for them for some time. If you visit their pages you will notice how they interlink other articles on their site through keyword phrases. Nothing wrong with that but I know they used to overdo it…and they know it. Some of their pages reminded me of cloaking from back in the days (you know what I mean :))
Hubpages.com – Their CEO Paul Edmondson wrote an interesting article on Techcrunch. His argument is that Youtube should be punished too. Quite honestly I believe that Youtube does deserve a different treatment in this case because of the type-in traffic YT gets. Hubpages mostly relies on search traffic and we know how their platform got abused by article spinners.
So as you can see Google Panda update is kicking ass! But so far I have only seen major impact on bigger sites not the smaller ones that engage in even more spamming tactics (aka autoblogs). Some legitimate sites got slapped in the process as well.
Anyway, according to Google pages cluttered with ads (50% ads) provide little or no value at all to the end user. That might partially be true, but that rule doesn’t apply to Google.
The question is: Is Article Marketing dead?
Absolutely not! Even though you might still get a little bit of link juice from a handful of article directories, the smart thing to do now is to submit exclusive content to relevant sites instead.
If you run a blog, do guest posting! Find and contact webmasters with high ranking relevant sites and offer exclusive content for their website. It’s really that simple.
Why does it work better? Well, because for one thing you submit to relevant sites. When submitting articles to directories your content gets auto scraped and published on low quality irrelevant websites (for the most part at least). Second, the webmaster you contact about publishing your content most likely is going to analyze the quality of your contribution as well as quality of your website, which doesn’t happen when you submit to directories.
Another very important thing to mention is that article marketing doesn’t work if the content on your website sucks. I have seen people building thin sites with little content mostly for the sole purpose of selling ad space and promoting affiliate programs, but they distribute high quality articles hoping for some Google love. That might work short term, but why risk getting slapped? Content on your site should also be great and provide value.
I know that there are many speculations about what actually provides value and what doesn’t and I have been wrong before too, but I see the writing on the wall and where it’s all heading.
I can’t wait to see what Google does with the Plus 1 button feature. There are already membership sites being created for the purpose of adding plus 1s for those who are inside the club. Personally I think that the plus 1 button will get abused to the fullest extent possible.
I know Google is trying to compete with Facebook but if they are going to use plus 1 in their search algorithm, the monetary gain from getting plus 1s will be so great that the big players will gain advantage once again simply because they have more money to play with.
The most important thing is to produce content that users will appreciate and help you syndicate it without needing to ask for it (or pay for it).