October 12, 2007
Article marketing has been considered a useful method of promotion on the Internet, since the very early days of the Internet. By writing an informative article, writers have been able to get their sales message read by millions of online consumers, through their resource box that follows their articles. Until 2005, the whole point of article marketing was for the purpose of attracting huge numbers of readers as a result of the articles being published in ezines that had a large reader base.
A New Kind Of Article Marketing For Link Popularity
In 2005, Jason Bradley, owner of Article Dashboard, released his free article directory software. Websites that use his software are commonly referred to as AD sites.
During the same time frame, people began turning to article marketing in droves, based on its promise for building link popularity with Yahoo, MSN, and primarily Google. Most people who jumped on the bandwagon in 2005 to endorse article marketing for link popularity purposes promoted a very limited view of this promotional technique.
Their thoughts went along the lines of “the only purpose for article marketing is link popularity.” There was no other role for article marketing, they said. And since one only needed to type enough words to get a link into an article directory, the most common recommendation was that articles should only be 300-400 words in length.
It was also commonly recommended that most article directory owners do not review the content submitted to them, so it was not important that the article made sense or pleased the article’s readers. After all, the recommendation being made was not for the possibility of generating traffic from articles; it was only for the purposes of influencing the search engine algorithms, which are not capable of actually reading articles for grammar or understanding.
People flocked to this new kind of article marketing, and they were more concerned with “quantity than quality” – quantity of links that is.
Software Developers Rallied
With the mass deployment of websites under the Article Dashboard software, and others since, programmers jumped through hoops and developed new article distribution systems that relied on computers instead of people for the distribution process.
Soon, these programmers had systems in place to mass submit articles to the new breed of article directories. They told the new article directory owners that if they would add a simple script to their website, then the submission service would populate their directories with article content.
Hundreds of directory owners flocked to this new kind of article distribution system.
Early on, people who used article marketing to promote their businesses were elated. They were getting links all over the place.
The Realities Of Article Directory Management Sank In
In September of 2005, one company bought nearly 200 domains and installed the AD software on all of them. By May of 2006, their operation had never actually gained a foothold in the profit sector of the Internet, so they sold their domains to another company. In early 2006, I had documented a list of 180 websites owned by this operation. On a recent review, I was unable to locate a single one of these 180 AD sites still running the AD script, and most were offline completely.
In order to fully understand the job of the article directory manager, the manager must manually approve or reject every article submitted to an AD site. Many AD directory owners realized that the approval process was a long and tedious affair, especially when they were receiving hundreds of articles per day from these automated distribution systems. For testing purposes, I had set up my own AD site and subscribed to receive articles from these automated systems. I let go the approval process for one week and returned to find 800 articles waiting for approval. It does not take long to get overloaded with articles that require manual approval.
After only a few months of operation, many Dashboard sites stop approving articles for one of two reasons: 1) it took too much time to manage their article directory website, or 2) the amount of income generated from the process did not match the time requirements of the directory.
The Clash Of Titans
Things really began to change in the AD directory ownership game a few months into the project. Directory owners began to realize that in order for them to profit from their article directories, they must do something that brings readers to their websites and encourages loyalty from their site’s visitors.
Since most article directories rely on advertising to drive their revenue stream, the directory owners had to do something that the other directory owners were not doing. They had to distinguish themselves from the masses.
The AD owners who have survived the early explosion of AD sites have generally taken the attitude that they should focus on “quality over quantity”.
This one step has set the goals of the software developers’ article distribution systems and their customers (quantity over quality) in conflict with the best interests of the article directory owners (quality over quantity).
Directory Managers Began To Implement New Submission Rules
Early on, many of those article directory owners who were intent on survival took actions to reduce the garbage flowing into their directories. Directory managers noticed trends in the articles that consistently failed to measure up to their new standards.
The owner of Invisible MBA, an educational article directory, told me that he had to review ten articles to find one he wanted to use. He also regularly complained about people who did not follow even the simplest instructions about appropriate content on his website. He eventually resorted to banning 70% of the people submitting articles to his website, including the automated article submission services, because they simply could not follow his category guidelines for submission.
His whole issue is a common complaint among the article directory managers. They insist that writers should take the time to appropriately categorize the articles they submit. Since it takes so long to approve articles manually and to select the correct category, directory managers have resorted to deleting articles instead of categorizing those articles for the writer.
Article Dashboard, Article Garden and many others have taken the step to prohibit the submission of articles that only point to affiliate websites. Article Express had gone one step further to prohibit affiliate links, even if the affiliate programs are advertised from the writer’s domain.
Across the board, directory owners have stomped on Private Label Rights (PLR) articles. When article directory managers began to realize that their websites housed dozens of copies of a single article, each of which had been signed by different people as the stated author, they realized that they had a serious quality problem. They instinctively knew that those PLR articles created a trust problem with their readers. When one article has been claimed to have been written by twenty people, it makes one wonder how the website owner can claim to have a quality website. And if the trust factor has already been raised as an issue, why would the reader want to trust anything else on that website?
Lee Asher who owns Articles-Galore and a couple of other AD sites was one of the first to come down hard on software submissions to his website. His guidelines state in no uncertain terms that if someone uses software to send articles to his websites, the person will have all of their articles removed from his website.
Some AD site owners have implemented minimum word count guidelines as a measure to break some of the junk article peddlers. After all, the people focused on writing articles for link popularity are driven by the concept of 300-400 word articles. I have seen word count restrictions that include the minimum of 500, 600 and 700 words. 80% of what is submitted to my AD site does not even have the number of words I require.
Proper Category Placements Is A Consistent Issue For Article Directory Managers
Article directory owners want to impress their readers and the search engines. But, they need the properly categorize articles primarily for their human readers, who are looking for specific information on their website.
In order to help their website visitors, the directory managers frequently update their category arrangements. For example, on my AD site, I provide several well-defined subcategories for the health category. In the cancer subcategory, there is a wide range of cancers that needed their own child categories. Since the AD software only shows 30 articles per listing page, and since there is one writer who has written more than 400 articles just on the topic of mesothelioma, it made sense to subdivide my cancer category so that it was not an advertisement for only one writer.
One of the main problems with the auto-submission software is that the software does not accurately address the up-to-date category hierarchy for each article directory. This creates a real quality issue for the directory owner and managers. In order for the directory manager to stay true to the formatting of his or her directory, he or she must either complete the category selections for the auto-submitters or delete the articles submitted through them. Manual deletions take as much time as manual approvals, unless the manager has to choose the category for the article, then it takes longer.
Article Marketing Still Works For Those Who Care About Quality Over Quantity
If you still like article marketing for its ability to get your business seen by ezine readers, then it is as effective as it has always been. If you only like article marketing for its ability to influence your link popularity, it can still be effective, if you do it right.
It is true that those automated article distribution services can get your article to a lot of websites, but on a percentage basis, how many of those submissions are getting approved?
For my own use, I use my own article distribution service to reach ezine publishers. And for mass directory submission, I prefer to submit articles to the directories by hand, because hand submission permits me to get the category right every time, which in turn permits my articles to get approved more often.
In the end, it is a karma thing – if I treat the directory managers right, they will treat me right by approving more of my articles. Since it is not uncommon for me to spend six to seven hours to write an article like this one, it makes a lot more sense for me to spend the extra time to get a wider reach for my articles, by honoring the desires of the more substantial article directories.
Author: Bill Platt is the owner of thePhantomWriters article distribution service. In business since 2001. http://thePhantomWriters.com