Even with embedded video, flash, and other non-text content, the internet is still mostly made up of information in text form. Search engines that crawl the web looking for good sites with high quality content are crawling text. They can’t “see” images, so any information they get pertaining to those images have to come from filenames and from the text surrounding the images. Pages without text won’t rank well. Pages that have text have an advantage that depends partly upon how relevant and cohesive it is. The best content, according to the search engine crawlers, is text that is keyword rich (not stuffed), original, and relevant. Using article directories is a strategy to boost the search engine rankings of your website and hence your sales.
Why Should you Use Article Directories?
Article directories allow anyone to post articles for marketing. The articles have to be informative and can’t just be blatant sales pitches. Most article directories have fairly strict rules on the standards that the articles they publish have to meet. Many times these rules relate to the number of “self-serving” links allowed in the main body of the text, and the information that can be placed in the “resource box” that is placed at the end of each article.
Put simply, article directories are a way to spread the gospel about your website. If you adhere to the rules set forth by an article directory, you’ll have no problem getting your articles accepted. Google likes the major article directories, like Ezinearticles, ArticlesBase,and Goarticles. An article in one or all of these directories can get you some nice back links to your website. In fact, you’ll have a better chance of ranking on the first page of search engine results with articles on one of these sites than if the article was on your own website.
As far as back links go, back links from some article directories are more valuable than back links on others. But since the number of back links your website has is taken into account (as far as we know), then you should benefit from them. The “bad” back links are ones from paid link schemes, link swapping schemes, and from the so-called bad neighborhoods on the net, like porn sites and gambling sites.
While you can access services that submit articles to many directories, this isn’t the best idea. For one thing, duplicate articles all over the place aren’t going to get much love from the search engines (since they like original and not duplicated content). And for another, five high quality articles submitted to five high quality article directories will benefit you more than two dozen crappy articles submitted everywhere in a scatter-shot approach. The top article directories are high traffic sites, and some of that traffic is bound to find your site from your bio or resource box.
What to do First?
Before you write an article for a given directory, go to their submission guidelines and make sure you follow them. Some are more strict than others. Ezinearticles, for example, is very strict about the number of links that can go in articles, how far into the article those links must appear, and whether or not those links appear “self-serving.” (See screen shot of Ezinearticles editorial rules) Other sites, however, like eHow and GoArticles.com are not as picky. But they have their rules too, and you have to follow them.
On most sites, you can freely submit articles once you register a free account. You’ll generally be able to add an author byline, a hyperlink, and the address for your website. The better written the article is, the more readers it will attract, and the more potential traffic your website could receive.
After you have your accounts set up, you should do some keyword research to see which keywords you need to target with your articles. If you can write (or have somebody write) several unique articles targeting those keywords, you can potentially draw a lot of attention to your site indirectly. Choose your titles carefully. Sometimes this can be tricky, because you have to worry about duplicate titles, but really give it the thought and attention it deserves. Keywords in your titles are important, just like they are on your website.
Does it Work?
While article directories don’t get as much love as they used to from search engines, they still get points for original, keyword relevant content, and the best article directories are still good sources of back links to your site. It is still not unusual for articles from the top article directories to rank on the first page of the search engine results for some topics. It is about as close as your site can get to free advertising, even if you have to hire a writer for the articles.
How about Some Tips for Successfully Using Article Sites?
Create a bio for yourself as the author (even if you outsource the writing, you’re the one who ends up with the copyright). Most article directories allow at least one link to be placed in the “bio” box. Sort out how many self-serving links you get, and then sort out how you want to parcel them out between your website’s home page, other pages on your website, or your blog if you have one.
Link to your article directory submissions from your blog and from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. You can also use sites like Digg and StumbleUpon to bring a few more eyeballs to your article.
In conclusion, article directories are another tool in your web promotion toolkit. They are about as close to free advertising as you can get, and if your content is good, you will be rewarded for it with increased traffic to your site.
Update, I have had several requests for a list of article directories, so here is some we use: