Whenever Google twitches, search industry pundits around the world are eager to proclaim that SEO is radically changed forever. It seems that everything that looks even remotely like a shadow of a passing Google update gets folks all riled up and ready to declare SEO dead once again, or at least transformed beyond recognition.
Needless to say I'm not part of that crowd. Nearly always when Google changes something in its algorithm - and if reports are to be believed, Google does this several hundred times a year - nothing really changes in how we optimise websites.
Sometimes though an update comes through that does require us to alter our SEO tactics somewhat. Like with the recent Panda update, on which I won't elaborate very much because plenty's been written about it already. I'll summarize it as follows: Panda was aimed at downgrading low quality content sites in Google's SERPs.
And, looking at the SERPs and traffic reports so far, it's fairly successful at it. Which is somewhat problematic for SEOs like me that have been relying, to some degree, on article marketing as a linkbuilding tactic.
What does it mean for Article Marketing?
Article marketing is a tried and tested method of generating links. You find a topic, write an article about it that includes a link or two, and publish it on several article directories. Or, more accurately, you pay someone else to do all that for you, and you just provide the link destination and anchor text.
And up until recently article marketing worked. It shouldn't be the cornerstone of your linkbuilding strategy, but it got results for relatively little cost.
The problem is, article marketing has lost much of its potency. The Panda update, by targeting low quality content sites, has in one stroke wiped most article directories from the SERPs and has robbed them of nearly all of the link juice they used to pass on.
This is not entirely unexpected, nor is it unfair. Because, let's be honest, the vast majority of content published on article directories was indeed 'low quality', to put it mildly. This type of thin content had no other purpose than to generate long tail traffic for the directories and links for the content writers. It certainly didn't aim to fulfil user's informational needs, and so its disappearance from SERPs won't be mourned by many.
What this does mean, however, is that SEOs that have been using article marketing as part of their linkbuilding activities will need to find a new channel to generate easy and keyword-rich links.
No Need to Panic
When you look at the bigger picture, this is all part of Google's drive to fight artificial links and force SEOs to generate truly link-worthy content. And in an ideal world, we all should be writing 'great content' and be justluy rewarded for it with nice chunks of search engine traffic.
But that's not how the world works. 'Great content' is a hollow, meaningless phrase that just makes me roll my eyes, and whatever it is it certainly doesn't automagically generate tons of juicy incoming links. No, we SEOs have to work hard at getting links to our client sites. And, in this link-based ecosystem that Google has created, that means we often have to rely on artificial linkbuilding methods.
So, out with article marketing - to an extent - and in with something else. What that 'something else' is, I won't tell. Wouldn't want Google to start cracking down on that too, now would we? :)
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