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Why Article Marketing Works and Can Be Used as Part of A Legitimate SEO Strategy

I have decided to write this post in direct response to the recent White Board Friday over at SEOmoz, I agree with some of the advice given but I think it was put across in the wrong way.

The post basically portrayed article spinning & mass article distribution as a ‘scummy’ strategy and condemned all who use it as cheap marketers or naive newbies; I have and do occasionally use article marketing and consider myself neither, so obviously I have something to say on the matter.

If you want you can check out some of my comments on the post :)

OK, let me just make something clear before I go into the defence of such techniques, links from article directories alone will not get you rankings, the sites your content will be placed on is solely set up for the purpose of content creation and building backlinks, they are not quality sites or resources, but is that the point?

Any savvy SEO knows the above but as SEO’s what are we commissioned with? In my experience and opinion whether for ourselves or clients we’re looking to increase online visibility through higher rankings and long tail content production, this in turn leads to higher revenues. If we can do this in a way that is not harmful to our sites then is it a problem that we use article marketing?

OK, let’s begin the defence.

Ease of Use

One of the criticisms Rand makes in his video is that ‘this kind of article marketing is a waste of time’ and that we can all use it more effectively.

In my opinion article marketing is a quick and easy bolt on, not an SEO strategy but a quick and easy way to distribute unique content.

Maybe you have just sent out a press release, spin it a few times and then distribute it to a few article directories, it’ll take no more than an hour and can have a significant impact on your overall campaign.

Is it Really Any Different?

Whether you fire out some articles or search for a blog to publish on, you’re doing it to get links. Sure the quality of that one link on a decent site will probably outweigh the article submissions but then why not do both?

Let’s look at it this way:

You push out a press release via a local wire, what happens? It goes out to a load of low quality hubs, all identical and most with the same template, is this any different?

You set up an opportunity to write for one of the best blogs in your niche, you write it, it gets published then scrapers come along and your content with links is on hundreds if not thousands of crap sites. By the way these crap scraper links can sometimes help! Is it really that different?

It doesn’t matter how you go about distributing content, the chances are it is going to end up on crap sites, with links pointing back to your site.

Do follow blog commenting, directory submissions etc… They are all carried out with one purpose in mind, to get more links.

Just go For Quality!

I have written about this so many times but for the sake of completeness let’s try it again.

Firstly, creating a great viral piece is not easy and whether it works or not largely comes down to luck. Not even the best in the industry can muster the perfect viral campaign every time and even when they do they will struggle getting optimised links back to their sites and will still lose out to the link buyers.

You could spend days putting a viral piece together and it could flop! Is that a waste of time? Regardless of quality?

If you’re a savvy SEO you will know that in order to stay ahead of the competition and at the top of Google you need to have a diverse strategy for acquiring links, yes spend 95% of your energy looking for quality opportunities but don’t underestimate or ignore other opportunities to get your content and links out there, to do so is crazy. If Google decides to devalue the links one day you have still got all the quality work you have done to fall back on. Why not use it?

I am pretty confident that if you had two competitors;

Competitor A – Goes after quality only and ignores the mass distribution channels

Competitor B – Does everything A is doing but adds article marketing, spinning and press releases to the mix

Who do you think will win?

B is adding all the quality of A, but boosts it with the additional, low cost distribution methods. It’s a no brainer in my opinion.

Why I think Rand’s Advice is Dangerous for Newbies

Let me start this by saying I have a massive amount of respect for Rand, what he has done at SEOmoz and the quality advice he continues to give, however I think he has got this one slightly wrong.

People that read SEOmoz include the super savvy all the way down to the SEO newbie. These new SEO’s, probably trying to build their own SEO web presence, will take everything that is said literally and will probably go out now and avoid article marketing like the plague! That’s a problem. Why?

I get the opportunity to speak with a lot of people new to SEO, don’t have a budget and are trying to promote their niche website. They hang on every word that is said online, a lot have lost confidence because they had been advised to do something, been going hard at it for 6 months and it isn’t working.

Just yesterday I was speaking with a newb who was trying to do his own SEO for his local catering company, he had read all the advice about sourcing quality resources and ignoring anything slightly spammy or cheap. The problem is 12 months had passed and he hadn’t got anywhere! He had lost all confidence in SEO claiming it was all luck!

What was basically happening was he was being killed by his more savvy competitors who were doing everything he was doing but adding a little extra to the mix.

If you’re a newb starting up and you take the advice in the video literally then you will get stomped on by more savvy competitors, you’ll lose confidence in SEO which will probably lead you to make even bigger, more damaging mistakes. Unfortunately I see it all the time.

Sure if all you do is article marketing it still won’t work, you need a combined strategy.

My Advice?

Yes quality is important and everyone doing SEO should create a strategy that allows them to acquire solid links from genuine sites, however use these cheap easy methods to give your quality strategy a boost.


If you’re putting a quality a piece together for a top blog, do 5 – 10 re spins of it, send it out via a few directories, and maybe place it on some lower quality blogs. If the piece deserves it fire out a press release as well. The impact will be so much greater.

If you’re pushing out a press release about a new product range make sure you have 10 – 20 copies ready to go out to bloggers and push it out via article directories also.

Basically make use of every content distribution channel you have available, why not?


In 8 years of SEO I have never seen a penalty dished out for article marketing, press releases or any other form of mass content distribution, sure they might be devalued but if you’re using them as a bolt on to your killer strategies where is the risk??

Of course this is my opinion and I am sure some will fiercely oppose this position, please let me know your thoughts in the comments or if you have ever seen any penalties handed out.

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Author: Tim (257 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.


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