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Google’s “Content Farm” Update … The Implications for Article Marketing
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The end of February 2011 saw another major algorithm shift from Google, with big implications for a number of websites … this time it was the turn of what Google refers to as ‘content farms’. Included in this are ‘article directories’, and this time it was their turn to take the hit.

Perhaps of particular significance, EzineArticles.com noted a traffic reduction of over a third in just a couple of days and are still of course weighing up what the long-term implications for their site will be.

Other major content hubs such as buzzle.com, hubpages.com and squidoo.com saw similar if not worse drop-offs in traffic in just the space of a few days.

Some have recovered a little since, but it will likely take a few weeks to really understand what the overall impact has been.

In terms of traffic levels to SubmitYOURArticle.com, and our own high traffic article directory, the average daily traffic level for the past 7 days has been just 2.5% lower compared to the average level for the 7 days prior to that. Go back to a similar 7 day period three months ago though, and the traffic level in the past 7 days has actually been higher.

So, overall assessment at present is that it’s had a negligible impact if any on our own traffic levels … but likely far too early to really tell.

Now that the dust has settled a bit though, I wanted to take an honest and dispassionate look at what the implications might be for article marketing.

At least in the past couple of years, probably more, the value of article directories has been in gradual decline overall … figuratively speaking, as the sheer number of them increased, the value of any individual such directory has been diluted.

As the value of individual article directories has diluted, so has the value of the backlinks you get from them.

No particular surprise there, and Google’s “content farm” update is just a natural part, and confirmation, of that continuing process.

Thinking about it from Google’s point of view, they do not want the results they show to users to consist of a high percentage of free reprint articles from plethora of different article directories, most of which support themselves largely through the display of Google Adsense ads.

But that doesn’t mean article directories are dead. They are still attracting a ton of traffic, a proportion of which will benefit authors who have their articles … and thus their links … on them.

It could well be however that the value of the links you get from such directories, at least the vast majority of them, is at best minimal for your SEO as far as Google’s concerned. It would certainly be wise to assume that was the case, and I actually believe it has been the case for some time now anyway.

EzineArticles.com, no doubt in temporary panic mode, even went as far as making all their links no-follow for a temporary period, only to later reverse that … but they are still considering it longer term, following some further consideration and consultation with their user base.

So Where Does All This Leave Article Marketing?

The real value from having your articles on article directories comes when publishers look for content on them for publication on their more niche-focused sites.

Or for publication in ezines and newsletters going out to a targeted readership … often resulting in long-term publication on their website too.

This is where you start to get the SEO value from the articles. Other than a bit of traffic, you shouldn’t expect to get much from the article directories themselves. It’s where your articles end up afterwards that really matters.

For example, my own articles on article marketing have a lot more value on a marketing- or business-related website, than they do buried in the ‘Article Marketing’ sub-category of the ‘Marketing’ sub-category of the ‘Business’ category on a generic article directory.

The fact that article directories essentially act as middlemen between you as the content source and the eventual higher-value publisher of that content is why I have constantly reiterated, often to deaf ears and protests from the content-as-spam brigade, that the quality of the content you distribute matters, and is often directly proportional to the results you get from article marketing.

Of course you always get some traffic from the article directories themselves, but their role as middleman is where some of the lag time in seeing the benefits of article marketing comes from. You’re waiting for other publishers to pick up the content and publish it on more focused websites, for those websites to then be spidered, and for those links to finally have an impact on your search engine ranking.

So, it helps if you can cut out the middleman and go direct to the eventual quality publisher of that content.

That’s why at SubmitYOURArticle.com, as well as distribution to hundreds of article directories, articles also go out to over 600 publishers who have signed up to receive topic-specific articles via email (Publisher Dashboard). This is how many members for example have been published in major ezines like SiteProNews with a subscriber base in the hundreds of thousands, followed by permanent publication on their high PR website.

For our Gold Level members, it gets even more direct with articles going out to, and being published directly on, niche-specific blogs. Essentially it bypasses the ‘article directory’ middleman, with immediate publication on sites where the same content would otherwise never reach. Such niche-focused sites will likely grow in value over time, adding further value to the backlinks you have attained from such sites.

And of course intrinsic to the whole process is that the blog owner benefits too – they get fed with niche-relevant content automatically, with precision control over the content they want to receive (if you haven’t added your blog yet, you can do so here, it’s completely free to do).

It’s also important to remember the wider benefits of article marketing. For example, I am now published in at least three off-line publications going to tens of thousands of paying subscribers in total, which would never have happened without my own article marketing efforts and focus on quality content production.

And if you study my Advanced Article Marketing Model, explained in some depth in my sustainable traffic report, you’ll see how article marketing becomes a no-brainer part of a larger traffic building strategy, centered in fact on building up unique and valuable content on your own website, rather than solely distributing content to build it up on other people’s.

In conclusion, I believe Google’s ‘content farm’ update confirms the ubiquitous article directory has become less central to effective article marketing … but article directories still have an important role to play as part of an overall strategy, even though there may be fewer of them around in months or years to come.

(Bear in mind that for sites like EzineArticles.com, they haven’t lost all their traffic from Google, and they get traffic from a lot of other sources too … I’m sure they will still be around for a long-time to come, although will likely change how they operate to some extent.)

I also believe longer term it can only have a positive approach for article marketing in general. For example, it may lead to less prevalence of ‘article spam’ … for example, 100 articles for $10 from someone on Elance who has English as a second language, with little respect for the eventual reader of that content … leaving higher potential returns on the table for those who follow the quality matters mantra and who have more respect for the eventual readers and potential higher-value publishers of that content.

Overall, if you’re serious about attracting and building traffic to your website for the long-term, it’s becoming more essential than ever to do the following in order to extract maximum value from your content production:

  • Ensure your content is high quality, gives real value to your readership, and is in line with what potential publishers in your niche may be looking for.
  • Give your content as wide a distribution as possible to a quality and diverse distribution network such as that provided by SubmitYOURArticle.com – rather than say just a handful of article directories.

If you’re unsure where to get started, I’d strongly advise you pick up my free sustainable traffic report .


NOTE: Please be aware this content may now be outdated. For the latest quality content on how to build massive publicity for your website, please go to The vWriter Blog - Helping Businesses Grow Traffic, Build Engagement, and "Be Everywhere"


51 Responses to “Google’s “Content Farm” Update … The Implications for Article Marketing”

  1. Nice Posting. Thanks for sharing.

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