Article directories used to be a popular choice for hopeful writers looking for exposure. Although the practice isn’t as widely used anymore, directories haven’t gone extinct. Ezine, GoArticles and other directories still attract writers and publishers who need fresh content. Despite many SEO experts’ claims that the directories are over-saturated with low-quality work, many webmasters assert the directory well isn’t dry and return to it for their SEO needs. Which set of experts is right? Are article directories effective, or are they last year’s SEO?
Matt Cutts, Google’s anti-spam guru, has advice straight from the search engine giant in one of his recent videos. After giving some background information, he settles the question once and for all:
“Over time, article directories have gotten a little bit of a worse name. Just to refresh everybody’s memory, an article directory is basically where you write three, four or five hundred words of content, and then you’ll include a little bio or some information about you at the bottom of the article. You might have three links with keyword-rich anchor text at the bottom of that article. And then you’d submit that to a bunch of what are known as article directories, and then anyone can download them or perhaps pay to download them, and they’ll use them on their own website. And the theory behind that is if somebody finds it useful and puts it on their webpage, then you might get a few links.
“Now, in practice, what we’ve seen is this often turns to be a little bit of lower quality stuff, and in fact, we’ve seen more and more instances where you end up with really kind of spammy content getting sprayed and syndicated all over the entire web.”
In other words, while directories may seem like a great opportunity for writers and webmasters, Google is devaluing their authority. The search engine views these articles as the kind of low-quality, thin or spam-filled content it’s trying to filter. Google’s search algorithms may even penalize content and backlinks from article directories.
“We certainly have some algorithmic things that would mean it is probably a little less likely to be successful now compared to a few years ago,” Cutts confirmed.
Articles that make the rounds of directories may also be penalized as duplicate content or contain plagiarized passages. Search engines monitor duplicate text closely and give more weight to content that was published earlier, so sending the same article to numerous directories is an obsolete strategy, according to Cutts.
“Just trying to write one article and syndicating it wildly or just uploading it to every site in the world…I wouldn’t necessarily count on that being effective. My personal recommendation would be probably not to upload an article like that,” he added.
Considering all that we know, heed Cutts’ parting advice and find a better way to spread your content. Blogs, niche sites and industry journals give good homes to custom-written content and SEO articles.