Is Article Marketing Dead? Why Closed Its Doors for Good

By Karon Thackston. © All Rights Reserved

The year was 1999. I’d just launched my online business and was finding my way through the Wild West of, what was then, practically a brand new Internet world. At some point, I don’t remember exactly how, I was introduced to Marnie Pehrson.

She, too, had a relatively new online business that focused on a wonderfully innovative idea: article marketing. I’ve known Marnie for 14 years now so I was shocked when she said she wanted to discuss an idea she had. She was thinking of closing – the original and longest-standing article directory on the Web.

Recently, I asked Marnie if she would share her thoughts about this and the future of article marketing online and she agreed. Here’s what she had to say.

KARON: Although wasn’t hit by the Panda updates, you were concerned (even years ago) about the quality of the articles on your site. Why?

MARNIE: You could call it a gut feeling that it would someday cause a problem, but I believe more than anything I felt out of alignment with where the article marketing world was heading. I’m all about being a trusted advisor and serving people with useful content. Having my name associated with thousands of articles you can’t trust just doesn’t compute.

KARON: You’ve said (more than once) that article marketing (as far as SEO goes) is on life support. Explain what you mean by that.

MARNIE: For starters, Google is penalizing sites that have posted large numbers of articles to create inbound links. Google refers to these as “unnatural links,” and drops the ranking of the site being linked to.

Most article directories create their revenue by running ads – usually Google Adsense. Google is now pulling their ads off sites that post content they deem “subpar.” Their terms specify that you can’t run Adsense on duplicate content. (This is not universally enforced, by the way.) But technically, if a piece of content exists anywhere else on the web, you are not allowed to run Adsense ads on it. Given that most article directories are filled with content that has been posted elsewhere, it makes generating revenue from Adsense difficult for article directories (to say the least).

On top of all that, Google also began penalizing article directories for inbound links to them from other sites. For example, let’s say a writer links to an article directory because she has articles on it. Google could deem that link “unnatural.”

KARON: So, are you saying that article marketing is no longer a relevant method of promotion at all?

I believe creating unique, quality content and placing it on blogs and web sites that relate will always be a viable method of promoting yourself online. It may take a while for Google to work the kinks out of their algorithms to support this method without opening the door again to tons of spammers. Hopefully, one day, it will be smart enough to realize that all of this linking isn’t “unnatural.” Setting Google aside, creating quality niche content for other web sites is smart marketing.

The problem comes when you take the same piece of content and blast it all over to sites that don’t necessarily relate to the topic of your article. If you stay tightly focused, and create quality content, you should be fine… logically speaking… but then I don’t perceive Google as necessarily logical. LOL

KARON: You know, to me, all Google’s pushes for quality through these updates seems like a good thing where articles are concerned. I mean, we can finally get back to the days where articles were written for people instead of written in an effort to appease what people *think* the search engines want. Do you agree?

MARNIE: I think you’re right. In the end, it’s leading us to greater quality. But, I do feel like there are kinks in the algorithms, and people are being penalized in ways that don’t make sense. I’ve heard you use the example of an article that’s syndicated in newspapers across the country. That’s a viable, smart use of an article. But when it’s done on the web right now, Google’s going to penalize you.

KARON: Exactly! I agree 100%. I hope Google can work it in such a way that we don’t have to toss the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

But why totally quit? There were several ways you could’ve tweaked IdeaMarketers to only allow the best-quality articles on the site. Why did you finally decide to just close it down completely?

MARNIE: I had programmed multiple filters to keep the garbage out. I suppose I could have hired someone to create a more robust software to analyze articles and decide if they were poor quality or duplicate, but frankly, my heart wasn’t in it. It’s not where I see myself heading in the future.

I’ve been teaching others to define their niches and offer quality content and services for their audiences. I believe our survival as business owners depends on our ability to truly connect with our audience and serve their specific needs.

On IdeaMarketers you would have found articles on everything from social media to gardening to e-cigarettes. As I began narrowing my own niche, I realized that 90% of the messages we were promoting on IdeaMarketers were not serving my niche. I work with tribal leaders – entrepreneurs who have a message that takes people from a place of limitation to increased freedom.

When I realized IdeaMarketers needed to be reassessed and reinvented, I decided to take it where I wanted to go instead of staying with the same-old, same-old. As Seth Godin says, “Safe is risky.” I decided that if I was going to take a risk, I wanted to take it in a direction that aligns with my passion.

KARON: So that’s when you deleted 3 million articles (and all the ad revenue that went along with them)? How’d that feel?

MARNIE: Incredibly liberating, and then downright terrifying later that evening when it sank in. In my heart, I feel I made the best leap. Whether I fly or splat is yet to be seen.

KARON: LOL. And what will take IdeaMarketer’s place?

MARNIE: All traffic from IdeaMarketers is now being routed to

KARON: So, is designed to show people how to find and create a WOW in their businesses?

MARNIE: Right. I’ve gathered a group of colleagues (who I call Guides) and together we’re fostering and educating future tribal leaders in ‘igniting a WOW’ with their messages and succeeding as entrepreneurs. The site covers topics these folks grapple with — branding, copywriting, packaging, and promotion. We’re taking a holistic approach as well and discussing topics like life balance, mindset and self-care.

KARON: What types of businesses do you feel Ignite Point would be a good fit with?

MARNIE: Let’s say you’re an alternative health practitioner, and you have a new method for teaching people how to heal their own bodies. Or maybe you’re someone who struggled with self-harm and depression, and now you’re creating a support community to help others transition from self-harm to self-love. You could even be a professional organizer who helps mega-creative types bring their environments under control.

To put it simply, if you have the key to someone else’s lock, IgnitePoint is for you.

KARON: Has the site launched yet?

Yes, but we’re doing a “grand opening” type of thing, too. To kick off the new site and the new vision, I’ve created the Challenge, to encourage folks to step more courageously into their roles as tribal leaders by sharing their heart’s messages in a blog, video or audio and entering it in the IgnitePoint Challenge.

All entries will be featured on the site and one winner will be selected each month. The winner will receive training on how to transform his or her message into a book, coaching from IgnitePoint guides, and will also get prominent promotion of his or her message on the IgnitePoint site. Those interested in being part of the solution may take The Challenge at

KARON: Thanks Marnie! You know I wish you every success with the new venture.

NOTE: Marnie is hosting her first telecall for TODAY (December 12, 2012) at 1:30pm EASTERN time. It’s called “What’s Working, What’s Not” and it’s all about letting go of old, worn-out ways of doing things and creating a fresh, new plan for today in your business. Register for FREE at to attend live or receive a copy of the replay.

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About Karon Thackston

For over 25 years, web & SEO copywriter Karon Thackston has created optimized copy and content that has increased conversions & search rankings. Find out more about Karon on Google+.


  1. Interesting. I have been wondering what people have been recommending we do with article marketing besides article directories. Now to just get over the shyness of approaching other bloggers for a guest post space….

  2. Great interview. I did article marketing for years to distribute content across the Net and get backlinks and I received a lot of traffic and high rankings from it until Panda/Penguin which resulted in a 50% drop in traffic to my sites. I still do content marketing for my own blog and client’s sites however I now re-purpose the content and vary my links. It seems to be paying off…my traffic is slowwwly building up again.
    Herman recently posted..Hire A Web Designer To Build Your Site: Top 7 BenefitsMy Profile

  3. is a good example of an article site (they also sell software) that seems to work. They get about 2 million visits per month, but it’s very focused. They don’t allow people to post; instead, they go out and ask experts for their content. They print the first couple of paragraphs and then link back to the original article. They post a blog post (part of it) of mine each week from my site on the topic of PowerPoint and presenting. This brings me quite a bit of traffic.

    I agree that article marketing they way it used to be done is pretty much dead. Most of the articles on these sites were there just to get links, not to provide really useful information.
    Ellen Finkelstein recently posted..Comment on Do you display ads? Focus on your own products instead by EllenFinkelsteinMy Profile

  4. Debra Torres
    Twitter @

    Hi Karon,
    Thanks for your post. I haven’t worked much with article marketing much and I have a question about it that’s been buzzing around in my head. I have a client who owns a garden store/landscaping business who is interested in having me write articles for him after I’ve finished writing and designing his site. I’ve wondered about the threat of duplicate copy though when it comes to articles. If I post the article on his site and then submit the same to an article marketing site – is it considered duplicate copy? Do you post in both places, or is it partial copy with a link as in Ellen’s comment above?

  5. I really upset about this.. I used But it is not opening.. 🙁

  6. Russ Turner
    Twitter @

    I had some inital success with AM but saw it being rendered ineffective some two years back. However, when I get a new product I will write up an article and post to Ezines but Marnie’s comments re G’s dislike of AM has finally convinced me that AM as it was is well and truly dead RIP.

    What now though, what will be the phoenix rising up through the AM ashes?

    Thanks for your posting


    Russ Turner recently posted..Our Ceiling Tiles Designed To Improve Your HomeMy Profile

    • Hi Russ. Don’t misunderstand what Marnie was saying. She is not saying article marketing is dead, she’s saying that article distribution (in its current state, i.e., blasting crappy articles all over the place on thousands of subpar article directories) is dead. But yes, changes have to be made.

      Anytime links are that easy to get, you can bet your bottom dollar that Google won’t let it go on for too long without penalizing it. I think that’s one reason social media is such a key player right now. Google wants other people to say your site is worth a link or mention, not you. Sure, this system can be scammed, too, but it would take a lot more doing than simply putting your own article on a bunch of free directories.

      As for the phoenix… I’m sort of waiting for that myself. I don’t know that there will be another mass-distribution method that works. If it’s easy and it means that you are in control of links pointing to your site, chances are good that Google will nix it pretty quick.

      Guest blogging is an excellent way to use article marketing with wonderful results. However, it is much slower than article distribution because it involves one-to-one contact with bloggers. And then there’s the old faithful method of building your own list of followers who you put your content out to and then they share it with their friends/fans.
      Karon Thackston recently posted..Want to Know Your Unique Competitive Advantage? Buy Some ToothpasteMy Profile

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