Article marketing is a type of advertising in which businesses write short articles related to their respective industry. These articles are made available for distribution and publication in the marketplace. Each article has a resource box, where the author can place a bio and byline to include references and contact information for the author’s business. Well-written content articles that are released for free distribution can potentially increase the company’s credibility within its market. Also it helps in attracting new clients. These articles are often syndicated by other websites, and published on multiple websites.  Until recently, this was also a highly effective strategy for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as many article sites were highly ranked by Google and other search engines.  This can still be effective, but not quite as powerful as it was.

Article marketing has been a useful tactic almost as long as mass print has been in use. In traditional print form (as opposed to online article sites), article marketing is commonly used by business owners as a way to get free press space. For example, a local business provides free, useful content to a newspaper or local magazine, and in return the newspaper prints the company’s contact information with the article. Because newspapers and other traditional publications need to present content on a limited budget, this sort of arrangement tends to be advantageous for each of the involved parties.

For example, a tax law firm may market itself by writing an article titled “The Top 10 Things to Do If You Get a Letter from the IRS” and offering it to local newspapers. Or a landscaping company might offer radio stations a brief article about “How to Beautify Your Lawn on a Budget” shortly before the spring season.

Article marketing as part of a company’s Internet marketing strategy is works through promoting products and services via publishing articles in online article directories. Article directories, until the recent “Panda” change to Google’s search algorithm, frequently ranked highly in the search engine results (and some still do) and attracted large quantities of website visitors.  This often results in high volumes of quality traffic to the article writer’s site as well. So websites benefitted both from the increased traffic as well as the “link juice” from the article sites, which helped their own website rankings.

During a recent major change to Google’s search algorithm, known as “Panda,” many article repository sites and other sites using them as a large portion of their overall SEO strategy took a huge hit in their rankings.  The practice of using “Article spinners” to automatically reword articles led to a degradation in the quality of content that Google was formerly ranking highly, so this change was made in order to punish sites that were known as “content farms” and, more importantly, to deliver better-quality search results.

The issue behind the major change is because of this: Internet marketers would typically try to maximize the results of an article advertising campaign by submitting their articles to many different article directories. Most of the major search engines want to filter duplicate content to stop having the same content appear multiple times in searches. Some marketers try to get around this filter by creating multiple versions of an article, and would often use software tools to do this quickly and effectively, known as article spinning. By doing this, one article can theoretically acquire site visitors from a number of article directories.  Part of the problem, though, is that article spinning software is imperfect and can’t always deal appropriately with similar words that have different nuances, so the actual quality of those articles can be quite bad.

Article marketing has been a common strategy embraced by beginner Internet marketers because, unlike most forms of search engine optimization and Internet marketing, they don’t require one to buy a domain, a hosting plan, and have a marketing budget. Article marketing utilizes article directories as a free host for the content, and receives traffic by way of organic searches due to the listing’s search engine authority.

While it’s still too early to tell what long-term impact the Panda changes will have on article marketing as a whole, the same core guidelines should still hold true.  Writing articles with a compelling title, using appropriate relevant keywords, and with a word count of about 250-500 words in the body of the article should still be somewhat effective.  The main goal behind article marketing is to get traffic via the search engines, using an appropriate mix of relevant keywords or key phrases in the articles is important. The generally accepted keyword density for most article directories is about 2 to 3% and anything above that can be considered as keyword stuffing. Most article directories currently do not accept HTML tags in either title or in the body of the article.  Post-Panda, actual human readability and quality of writing is expected to be more and more important, as it should be.

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