4 Article Marketing Myths: Busted

The idea of article marketing is to push content into getting published on other websites. Veterans in the SEO field still swear by this method to build traffic, backlinks and basically increase their online visibility. But not everything being said about article marketing is true. Today, I’m going to explain five of those misconceptions, and hopefully put to rest all the nonsense talk about what the method is not really about.

Article marketing myth #1: Use article directories to build easy backlinks.

Truth: Okay, I have mentioned before that backlinks coming from article directories are indeed valid ones. Granted, if an article directory has a high PR, the backlinks may actually bear some weight. But here’s the thing – using article directories as a backlink farm is wrong.

Articles submitted to directories need to pass some qualifications before getting approved. If you’re only after the backlinks coming from article directories, then you’re better off doing simpler things like blog commenting and forum posting. It’s just too much work to create entirely new content just to get 1-2 backlinks. Those backlinks are most likely not even relevant to the topic of your website.

Now, this doesn’t mean that article submission is a totally futile system. Backlink building can still happen but only really well-written articles have a chance to benefit from it. As the articles get published in the directories, other publishers may decide to re-publish (syndicate) them. When the article (and the resource link it came with) gets published on another website – a relevant one – a more powerful backlink is created. So, the idea is to submit re-publish-worthy content to increase syndication instead of submitting poor quality ones in exchange for equally poor backlinks.

Article marketing myth #2: Spin articles to increase article submissions.

Truth: Article spinning was the hype a few years ago for marketers who want to get more mileage out of a single article. Spinning is done by re-wording or rephrasing some or all portions of an article to create different variations of it. As it was believed, article directories required unique articles (we’ll tackle this later). But spun articles doesn’t really equate to unique.

Let’s take a close look at what some of the article directories are saying about spun articles in their guidelines:

“Must Not Contain Rehashed Content, or Material Overly Similar to your Prior Submissions.” – EzineArticles.com

“Submissions must not be spun or be PLR (Private Label Rights) articles or term papers/essays for sale.” – GoArticles.com

“…Rewording or rephrasing other published texts (articles, website content or books) is not considered original writing.” – Suite101.com

As you can see, article directories seem to have a way of detecting whether an article was spun or not. Articles spun using an automatic spinning software also tend to turn out as unreadable and incoherent pieces.

In any case, to totally benefit from article spinning, it must be done manually to make sure it reads least like the original one. If that’s the case, then you’re better off spending your time crafting an entirely new article – decreasing the chance of rejection from the directories.

Article marketing myth #3: Article directories only accept unique, unpublished articles.

Truth: Article marketing is not as easy as sending off articles by a single click. Each article directory has its own set of quality guidelines that authors need to adhere to when submitting content. Possibly the most debatable item among them is whether or not previously published content is accepted.

Before you believe what you read on blogs and rant boards, why don’t you go and check the guidelines yourself? EzineArticles doesn’t mention anything about content uniqueness, except for the bit about spinning (see myth #2 above). GoArticles seems to be only concerned about the real authorship of the articles being submitted. ArticlesBase require original articles – not unique (this article explains this in detail).

Now, there are hundreds of article repositories out there, so some of it may really look for 100% unique submissions. Suite101, for example, explicitly wants:

Original articles only. All writing must be previously unpublished anywhere on the web (including your own blog or other writing sites)…”

Admittedly, there is really some truth to this myth. But unless it’s a reputable directory with a track record of publishers actually syndicating your content, it’s not worth the effort.

Article marketing myth #4: Article directories create duplicate content.

Truth: We have settled the issue with using the same content to submit to article directories. So, now that your article appears on your own website and the directory, does that mean they are duplicates? Directories exist to serve a platter of content for publishers. If all these publishers decide to use your article, then are those duplicate content as well? Technically, it is the same text, but the answer is no. This is called syndicated content.

Search engines like Google already know not to display the same content in SERPs. According to the search engine giant:

“Duplicate content doesn’t cause your site to be penalized. If duplicate pages are detected, one version will be returned in the search results to ensure variety for searchers.” – Google Webmaster Central Blog

They are also very much aware of the activity involved in article marketing:

“If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.” – Webmaster Tools > Content Guidelines

Now we can all continue with our article marketing efforts without the fear of getting our sites penalized for duplicate content.

If there’s one thing you need to remember when doing article marketing, it is to get your article published and indexed on your own website first. This way, all the things mentioned above will make more sense. Article marketing remains to be an effective strategy in creating a successful website.

Local SEO – Is It For You?

Many small businesses go online with a vision of conquering the world. But building a global brand could mean competing with the likes of Coke and Nike of the industry. Not that it’s a bad idea or that you can’t do it, but sometimes, it pays to start small – local, that is.

What is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a simpler form of optimization where a website is optimized for a local market, say a city or a county. The idea is that people use the web to search for everything. Since the web is so big, users tend to put a location keyword on their search, in order to arrive at a business within their vicinity.

Search engines have evolved, integrating geotargeting in search results, particularly if you are logged in to their system (such as your Google account). How else would they have figured out whether to display Google in Spanish while you are browsing in Mexico? You’ve probably noticed, too, that the ads are tailor fit to your locale.

Why do Local SEO?

It is more realistic to optimize for a local market if you have a brick-and-mortar business like an auto repair shop or a pizza delivery service. There are so many pizza delivery websites online, but you really only want to get ahead of the ones in your area. It would be futile to compete in ranking for the general ‘pizza delivery’ keyword unless you’re willing to deliver across the country!

Local SEO helps bring targeted audience to your website, which after all is what your business really needs. Doing it obviously requires less work and money compared to a full-on SEO campaign.

How to do Local SEO?

For local SEO to work, a location (preferably an address) must be visible on each page of the website. That should give the search crawler a pretty solid idea that you exist in that locality. Another thing that would give away your locality is a local phone number.

Social web also plays a role in strengthening your online visibility. Claim your business, verify or create a profile in these following websites:

As Google declares, “97% of consumers search for local businesses online”. You’d want to be there when these people start searching for your business.

In Local SEO, there is much less competition – it’s easier to rank. But it doesn’t mean that your business can’t expand that way. Local SEO could just be the start of a much bigger SEO campaign in the future.

Is Guest Post The New SEO Spam?

A guest post is an article or a blog entry written by somebody other than the usual blog author/s. Also known as guest blogging, this type of content contribution is popular among blog networks because it helps in visibility and link building (I have written about it previously here). It also gives blog owners something to publish while they get a break from writing.

It was good until…

Guest blogging is really a great concept, but recently the practice has been tarnished by abusive web spam operators. Since link building through link exchanges became extinct with the Google Penguin update, a new scheme has taken its place in the form of guest post offers.

I used to receive link exchange ‘deals’ every now and then on my email, but lately a different breed of emails seem to reach my inbox. Some of them are so creatively written they may just convince those bloggers who are oblivious to SEO.

Others may refer to the guest post as a ‘sponsored post’ because some money is involved. Who wouldn’t want to get paid to publish free unique content?

This is where many webmasters overlook the quality of their website over easy cash. I know some bloggers who willingly accepted a schemy guest post offer for what they believe is a reasonable amount of money.

Why is it so popular?

The way guest blogging typically works, a unique article is given to the blog owner to publish on his blog. The blog owner can pick a topic of his choice to suit the overall blog genre. A financial advice article simply wouldn’t be relevant to a craft blog. The article will usually contain 1-3 links to any website the author pleases. That last part about the links is really what the guest post business is all about.

Contextual links (links within a text paragraph) are believed to be more valuable than sidebar links because this can be seen as an endorsement on the part of the blog owner.

Are they really spam?

If you know the author, or at least you know his reputation in your blog circle, then the guest post offer must be legit – that is, it wouldn’t be used to plant spam backlinks. But this guest post about a ‘Tasmanian road tip’, for example, has a dubious looking link placement which seems to be targeting the ‘buy cars’ keyword.

The article was well written and came with images. The only thing that would tell it off is the out-of-context link, which we already know Google doesn’t want.

Guest post offers are more likely to increase in the next few months, until Google starts another algorithm change that cracks down this tactic. It is indeed becoming the new web spam, but still, not all guest posts are made with bad intentions. There are still legit offers out there, all you have to do is screen them first.

What is The Google Sandbox and How To Avoid It?

Google Sandbox is a term used by webmasters to describe the theory of why new websites don’t seem to rank high in search engine result pages (SERPs). New (hence, less authority) websites are believed to be held in a ‘sandbox’ for some time before it gets indexed and ranked by the search engine. It’s sort of a waiting room for websites while they get evaluated before being deemed worthy to be shown to the public.

Are you experiencing the Google Sandbox Effect?

The sandbox effect theory has been around since 2004, but until now, it has not been proven as a definite fact. Although highly debatable, there is some reason for us to believe that the Google Sandbox still exists.

A used domain that has been previously penalized is likely to be frisked before being allowed back in the SERPs. It may still have some leftover PageRank, but it still won’t show up in the results page. To check if your website is being put under the lens, simply do a site:www.example.com search in Google. A zero turnout means that your site is still not indexed.

What Is The Google Sandbox Effect?

Why does Google Sandbox websites?

Google’s crawl spiders actually act fast in indexing new content, in my experience. So really, this sandboxing is implemented toward spam sites to keep them out of Google search results. Websites trying to rank for highly competitive keywords are most susceptible to experiencing this effect.

Spam sites are created to trick the search engines into thinking that the websites deserve to rank high. But unusual backlinking and poor content instantly raise a red flag to let search engines know that a website is potentially up to no-good. Why and how would a newly created website have so much backlinks from different websites in so little time? Sometimes you don’t need to dig deeper to know a website is created for spam.

How to avoid the Google Sandbox?

If you know the best SEO website practices, then you should already know how to avoid the Google Sandbox. In any case, here are some helpful tips:

  • Publish ONLY ORIGINAL content. Never copy from somebody else.
  • Don’t buy backlinks or participate in link farms.
  • If you just bought an expired domain, ask the previous owner if it was penalized. If it was, request for re-inclusion to Google or consider another domain.
  • Make sure you only link out to good sites. Also check your content for broken links.
  • Use a reputable host to keep your website up and running AT ALL TIMES.
  • Try going for less competitive, or long-tail keywords.
Basically, avoid doing something to your site that might hurt its quality. The sandbox waiting time can last from a few weeks, up to 6 months, sometimes even a year. It all depends on the website’s consistency and quality.

How to Use Forum Posting for SEO?

Before the birth of participatory web, aka web 2.0, our platforms for online interaction were limited. Back then, chat rooms, egroups (email) and forums were closest things we had to social web. People who share similar interests use them to keep updated and connect with other users.

Although online chat rooms and egroups have evolved now – or more like integrated to bigger platforms, online forums have kept their place in the cyber world. Forums or online message boards are like chat rooms categorized by topic. But instead of real time exchange, the messages are stored in the website for a certain period.

SEO benefits

Registered users can access forum posts, respond to them and create new topics for discussion. Non-registered users, on the other hand, have a read-only status. Forum posting is beneficial for SEO in the following aspects:

  • Search engine visibility – Discussions are archived and crawled by search engines, which means your posts and responses (in public forums) can turn up in the SERPs.
  • Establishment of expertise – Active participation in discussions is important. People listen to each member’s advice. By giving insightful information, you can establish your expertise in the topic.
  • Creating backlinks – Links posted in forums are valid backlinks, but there are rules for posting links in most boards (I’ll tell you about them later, just read on).
  • Traffic generation – As a result of the first 3 items on this bullet list, your website will receive more visitors.

Basic lowdown

When using this strategy, it’s important to keep things in moderation. Just like you wouldn’t blast out article submissions or leave comments with backlinks in one single day, you should also be consistent in forum posting.

Search engine algorithms are constantly improved to weed out those who make every effort to game the system, so to be on the safe side, we should go for ‘normal’. Here are a few pointers:

  • Post only in relevant forums – Why would a gardening expert post in a Japanese animation forum?
  • Vary your anchor text – Nobody posts all the same things in forums, unless they are posting spam.
  • Give valuable advice – Don’t just write “I agree” type posts. It’s okay to create long responses stating your point of view. Start a thread once in a while to get your point across.
  • Stick to the rules – As mentioned before, every forum has its own guidelines. Usually, affiliate links are not allowed; so as duplicate posts and obvious marketing posts. Those who cross the line may be reported or worse, banned.

The siggy

The signature or the siggy is where SEO payoff takes place. Every forum post has a template which a user can customize. Below the usual text is a space provided for a user’s “signature”. Text links, images or a combination of both can be placed there.

When the posts get archived, the links stay with them. Needless to say, you can consider those backlinks as your assets. Creative signatures get more attention, and when they do, targeted traffic is sure to follow.

Forum posting can take some time off your other daily tasks, but it’s one of those easy-to-do and free strategies that definitely work for SEO.

SEO Tips: Guest Blogging

Writing an article for another blog or guest blogging is something every SEO practitioner should try. To do it, simply respond to an invite or volunteer (invite yourself) to write for your blog of interest. Small, up and coming bloggers usually guest blog on established websites for exposure and to reap some SEO benefits.

Guest Blogging and SEO

Guest blogging works for SEO because it produces highly relevant backlinks and traffic. Why else would you write for another blog with unrelated topic?

Other than that, it also helps establish credibility through the endorsement of the hosting blog. Giving the readers of an already established blog a little taste of what your own blog is about can help your site build a following.

Writing a guest post

A guest post must be written with your own blog in mind, but without explicitly promoting it. To do so, here are a few tips:

  • Try to keep the same character and overall feel of what your own blog is like to keep the readers engaged, and possibly crossover – to visit your blog.
  • Write an informative post to the extent that it renders you an expert. This would compel the readers who want to learn more about the topic to subscribe to your blog,too.
  • Include optimized links back to your site without overdoing it (1-2 links would do). These links should not be meant to steal your host’s audience.
  • More importantly, maintain the same depth of research and quality of writing that you put into the article as if it were for your own site.

Good practices

Submissions should be original, and spun articles are not considered original. No host would appreciate recycled content.

It’s a good habit to guest blog every now and then to be current. Some bloggers actually do it on a regular basis. Contributing to different sites each time is recommended to maintain a consistent increase in your stats.

Getting started

If you’re interested in being a contributor, seek out openings from fellow bloggers in your network first. These can be your practice ground before starting to submit to larger sites. A quick search in Google on ‘looking for guest blogger’ can provide you with good leads.

As a time saver, it’s a great idea to send a sample work (even better, a ready-to-publish one) along with your ad response. This gives the host an idea of your writing style – whether you’re a good fit for the job.

Manual content distribution is possibly the most legitimate way to create backlinks. Going back to basics seems to produce more valuable backlinks in the eyes of search engines. Guest blogging is a trend that is sure to last because of its sincere intention.

How To Build Links With Article Sumbission

Article submission is one of the fastest methods to scatter backlinks for a website. This method is also known as article marketing.

How it works

Content is distributed to article directories, much like an article bank, where publishers source them. This can be done manually or automatically (through article submission sites).

We already know what is a backlink, and that we want to get more of it with this method. So, to build links, the articles being submitted must be embedded with a link or two. These links point back to the website being promoted.

Part of the agreement in most article directories is that the publisher not remove any of the resource links embedded in the articles.

Where to start

Article directories are open for individual (manual) submissions. This service is free, all one needs to do is sign up as a contributor. Each website will require its own log-in credentials, so this can be taxing for those who plan to mass submit their content.

Thankfully, SEO tool providers have come up with automatic article submitting tools. An article submitting tool basically does the job of submitting an article to the different directories. With these tools, an article only needs to be encoded once – in their software. It is definitely time saving, but the service is not free.

What to submit

Fresh new articles are welcomed by article directories, but a lot of them also accept previously published ones. A number of directories have a strict article screening process that it may take days before an article gets accepted. Some may have a minimum requirement of 400 words, while others look after the quality of writing.

Up to 2 anchor text links in the main article body is usually allowed. However, some directories don’t allow any. In any case, all article directories provide a resource box, where the author can display information about him or his website – with links.

Article spinning

SEOptimizers are known to ‘spin’ articles before they submit to the directories. Article spinning is done by recycling an article. Words and phrases are re-written, but the overall thought of the article remains the same. Spun articles usually pass as fresh content in article directories.

Spinning, in fact, can be done on the spot in article submission tools, and these tools will then send out a different version of the article to every directory. However, some problems may arise with the quality of article produced after spinning, especially when it is spun by a robot (automated). In the end, spinning is okay, as long as it passes human quality check.

Return of investment 

The backlinks created through article marketing are considered valuable because the article directories, particularly the popular ones, are considered authority sites by search engines. This means that your article may have a better chance of being displayed in the top ten search results coming from the article directory, instead of coming from your own website. At the same time, the backlinks will be coming from a website with (usually) a higher PageRank.

Some SEO experts, however, advise not to rely so much on the backlinks coming from an article directory. Instead, push for quality so that the article makes it to other websites. A link back from a related site, especially an authority one makes article marketing worthwhile. It is worth so much more than the backlink obtained from an article directory which is a collection of different topics (therefore unrelated).

Article submission should be a regular item in any SEO practitioner’s to-do list. It can be done monthly, weekly, and even daily. Instead of simply letting a website’s content age, distribute them around to benefit from its SEO juice.

What Exactly Is The Deal With PageRank (And How To Improve It)?

Many of the SEO concepts we encounter are under debate. One such topic is the importance of Google PageRank.

Overview

Every search result that Google churns out is a result of over 200 factors that govern their algorithm. One of these factors is the so-called “PageRank“.

As Google puts it:

“PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank.”

Of course, big G knows more than just to credit each and every link that points to a website. Spam links are isolated, together with other links that are manipulated and doesn’t seem to be relevant (an effect of abusing link exchanges and link farms). This is why SEO specialists are always on their toes to build quality links.

PageRank (PR) is presented as a numerical grade system, 0 being the lowest score and 10 as the highest. A fresh new website will have a PR score of 0, while a large authority website will most likely have a score of 8 to 10.

PageRank and SEO

There was a time when PageRank was believed to be the driving force in SEO. It was thought that Google derives its search results according to PR score (PR 10 on top of the list, and so on). But if we do some tests, we will find that the first page of Google results may not necessarily display websites in descending PR order.

Here, a search for “Womens Hiking Shorts” pulls up websites of varied PR scores:

SEOQuake PageRank check in Google SERP

This is why some SEO experts do not even bother to check their website’s PR; as long as they take care of the other tasks that help improve ranking such as article marketing, link building, on-page SEO and others.

Is it still important?

These days, we know that it takes more than just a PR score to lay the groundwork for good ranking. However, we know that it still carries some weight in website optimization. Domains are sold according to their preexisting PR value and high PR backlinks are sought after because those may guarantee a priority spot in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Website optimizers often target at least a PR 4, which is more often than not, a ticket to the first page of Google results. This ranking factor works on page-level statistics, so a domain.com PR score may be different from a domain.com/page PR. At the same time, the PR value of a webpage may be different at any given time, but Google does not let webmasters take a peek at its actual value. In fact, the PageRank values displayed on Google toolbar or SEO Quake (in the illustration above), for example, lags at least a month behind.

Improving PageRank

SEO experts may have different takes on how to increase PageRank, but here are some things that are consistent across the board:

  • build relevant, and quality external backlinks
  • build internal backlinks (links between pages in your site)
  • Use an SEO-friendly template
  • limit links within a page (too much links might look bad)
  • submit only to link directories with high PR
  • continue creating quality content (so readers will want to share your page)

With all that being said, PageRank may just be a way for Google to classify a website but may not really have a direct effect on ranking. In any case, websites built with good intentions will sooner or later place on top of the SERPs.

Domain Canonicalization: To www, Or Not To www?

Here’s something you may want to look into, in getting your site ranked better: domain canonicalization.

Any single webpage may be accessed through a number of URLs, but mainly it’s between www.domain.com vs. domain.com (without the “www”). In the eyes of Google, these URLs are different entities, so they get indexed separately – not good for SEO. Why? Because it will split up the rankings.

To canonize a domain is basically to assign the best URL version for search engines to crawl and index. Close to the original use of the term, it’s like giving it a saintly status.

To check how your site is indexed by big G, do a site: search. Compare the results between site:www.domain.com and site:domain.com. Whichever version turns up most on the results page is your better bet when it comes to creating backlinks.

Take a look at this example where only one version of the domain is indexed:

site:www.domain.com search

site:www.domain.com search turns up with no results

site:domain.com search

site:domain.com search shows pages have been indexed

Consistency is key. If the non-www domain.com version is indexed, then there is no use building backlinks using www.domain.com because it may not do your rankings any good.

But for this website, seowebsite.com, the www-version shows up on both search parameters:

site:domain.com search 2

The domain.com search comes up with all www.domain.com results

site:www.domain.com search 2

On this search using www.domain.com, it shows all 14 pages are indexed

To manually set your preference, set up an account at Google Webmaster Tools and go to: Site configuration > Settings > Preferred Domains. Check their help page here. You may additionally do a 301-redirect to your preferred canonical domain, which is pretty much telling the other search engines your preference, too.

There’s also an option to redirect straight from your web host. In which case, it essentially diverts traffic to just one domain, instead of scattering them to the different URL versions.

So, today I learned that one of my new blogs, juantobuy.com is not indexed as www.juantobuy.com. In effect, I will put all backlinking efforts toward the former URL, to maintain consistency (I just did it right there). For this website, however, www.seowebsite.com is more dominant, so that’s what needs to be used from this point on.

Domain canonicalization sounds like a complicated business, but it really isn’t.

Is Blog Commenting Still Beneficial For Your SEO?

Blog commenting used to be one of the easiest ways to get relevant backlinks for SEO purposes. But as more and more people abused this technique, mostly by automating spam comments, search engines have made it less significant in their algorithm.

Although that is the case, many websites still receive a good amount of spam comments. In this recently created blog, for example, blog comments turn up almost on a daily basis. So, why are people still people doing it?

For those who are just starting out with a small weblog, commenting on other blogs is an easy way to make yourself known in the blogosphere. This is good for SEO because other bloggers will want to link up with you, or even mention you in their articles.

In the same manner, you will easily establish a network that can help sustain your website’s organic growth (which search engines like). Having an extensive network of friends and co-bloggers on top of your Facebook and Twitter followers can be helpful in bringing in traffic, and dissemination of your content.

Adding a link within a blog comment has lost its backlinking power primarily because a lot of blog platforms have pre-set the comment links to “no-follow”, which means any link posted on a page will not have any bearing when search engines crawl it.

The easiest way to find out if a blog is “no-follow” or “do-follow” is by installing an SEO add-on or plugin on your browser. These things work like magic, revealing no-follow links in just a few clicks. For the the three big browsers:

  • Google Chrome: Chrome SEO
  • Internet Explorer: SEO Quake
  • Mozilla Firefox: NoDoFollow or SEO Quake

If you’re heavily bent on creating SEO-worthy backlinks when blog commenting, here are some things you need to remember:

  • Keep busy commenting on “do-follow” blogs only – otherwise, your links (and effort) will be useless.
  • Don’t just comment spam, read the blog and provide real comments and insights about the post – you’ll want your comment to get approved.
  • Provide something more for the readers when pointing back to your website – give them more information (something that was not mentioned in the article), to compel the readers to visit your website.
  • Do your blog commenting sporadically throughout the week – to make it look natural, not automated or spammy.
  • Use different versions of your anchor text – Don’t push your keywords too much on every blog comment because it will look unnatural.

Blog commenting nowadays tends to provide more visibility benefit than backlinks. Still, it can provide good quality backlinks, if you do it with good intentions. The power of blog commenting may have dwindled down, but just like any other SEO technique, it’s up to you to use it to the best of your website’s advantage.