By Karon Thackston © 2011, All Rights Reserved
Has the Panda made his way to your website? Probably so if your site is perceived as a link farm or a scraper site with a reputation for reproducing low-quality articles with no original content. If you’re included in the almost 12% of sites affected by Google’s Panda update, I’m sure you’re not happy. But I must say I’m optimistic that this will be a good thing long term.
I’ve made it no secret over the years that I cannot stand low-quality junk or bulk articles which are written with the exclusive intent of attempting to increase link popularity. They provide no useful information for the reader and they have tarnished the article marketing industry to such a point that the common perception these days of articles in general is that of poorly written, badly executed works that will spend their lives sitting on article sites and/or in content farms. Nobody wants to reprint these types of articles: and that’s a shame because the reprinting is where 90% of the benefit comes from.
It’s Never Been About the Article Directories
I’ve seen people complain lately about legitimate article sites (such as EzineArticles.com) getting caught up in the Panda’s net. Many of these (at least temporarily) are being dragged down with the content farms in the overall Google rankings. However, as far as article marketing goes, it’s never been about the article directory sites.
As I’ve written about numerous times in the past, the whole point of article distribution is to get your work republished on quality, authority sites within your niche. The goal has never been (and should not exclusively be, in my opinion) to simply distribute articles to as many articles sites as possible.
You want to connect with people who have an interest in your industry. You want to expand your reach. Merely sticking your article on submission sites that take anything anyone wants to upload doesn’t accomplish that.
Once a blogger or website owner finds your article and reprints it on their authority site then you begin to see true benefits.
I’ve been shocked to find out that prominent SEO companies and link-building experts actually advocate the creation and distribution of “low-quality content” as a viable marketing method. Sure, you might get a couple of links out of it, but do they convert? Do they drive traffic to your site from people who actually do something once they arrive? There’s now a call for a new era of article marketing. Problem is, the folks issuing that call are way behind the times. Producing quality articles and getting them reprinted on useful sites has always been how this promotional method has worked best.
Think all this Google hullaballoo couldn’t possibly lead to anything good? I disagree. As far as writing goes, here’s my thinking.
1. Panda has already forced changes in how article sites accept and publish articles. On his blog, Chris Knight of EzineArticles.com had this to say, “The end user-experience is important to us and should be to you. The value you provide in your articles matters since it’s not only an investment in your future as a credible author, it’s an investment of time to your reader. Getting traffic today isn’t worth the cost if your reader quickly realizes that you’re not in it to help them – that your intent was selfish – and they’re gone as quickly as they came.” Amen Chris!
While EzineArticles.com has long been one of the few article submission sites that stood up for quality in the article marketing workplace, they have recently taken additional measures to ensure their site continues to provide top-notch content. Other sites that previously took any ole article without any review process at all have now started to hurriedly make adjustments in an attempt to regain their former search rankings.
Then there are sites like IdeaMarketers.com. Founder Marnie Pehrson states, “Our traffic from Google is holding steady and is actually a little higher. It’s hard to tell whether that’s just seasonal or due to the Google update. In short, I have no intention of messing with what works.”
Quality, quality, quality.
2. It will help to weed out scammers and others responsible for pitifully written content. We’ve seen the article writing industry slide into new, dark depths over the last several years. Suddenly, everybody and their brother have become “expert” article writers. Problem is, they aren’t. With such a new focus on quality, those who write anything less than good material will discover over time that such works don’t cut it anymore. They’ll be forced to improve their skill sets (always a good thing!) or step aside.
Don’t get me wrong… I welcome anyone to the copywriting industry who is capable of contributing positively. But for those just hopping on the link popularity bandwagon with the hopes of making a quick buck, I say, “So long.”
3. It will help to diversify the article marketing industry. While article submission sites are an excellent place to gain exposure, my hope is that the Panda update will help marketers see that diversification is not only necessary, but also a positive action. Plugging your article into an automated software program and uploading it to thousands of (mostly) useless sites reminds me of years ago when the ‘Net was flooded with ads that screamed “Submit your site to 1,000 search engines for just $19.99.”
Rather than just broadcasting the article blindly, create a strategic plan that carefully chooses a hand-selected mix of quality article sites, social media and (of course) optimizing the piece on your own website. I can see that the days of mass-submissions are numbered.
I’ve read numerous interviews recently with Matt Cutts and others from Google who say (while it’s not perfect) they are mostly pleased with the results the Panda update has brought. Is it all about which articles submission sites accept and how they are written? No. The definition of “quality” sites goes way deeper than that. As Jill Whalen outlined in her recent search marketing newsletter about this very topic, there are many elements at play here. You’ll be surprised at what she dug up.
So what is Google looking for now that the Panda update has been launched? The same thing they’ve always wanted: quality, relevant, original content. Give them that with no underhanded, manipulative tricks and you stand a much better shot at ranking high. If your site is lacking in these and other areas (see Jill’s article above), you may have hard times ahead.
As an Author, What Can You Do?
What I’ve been preaching for years is to write quality content that is selectively distributed. Purposely writing junk content that is created for the sole reason of garnering backlinks is a waste. If you want longevity and results from your article marketing campaign you’ll need to:
1. Provide well-written articles filled with useful information that offer value.
2. Don’t just skim the topic; offer a healthy dose of info. My own personal recommendation is between 550-700 words.
3. While optimizing for the search engines is great, write with the end user in mind first.
4. Remember that with each article, you are branding your product/service/company. If you want to be viewed as a crappy company, produce crappy articles that have links back to your site. If you want to build a reputation for a company of value, create content that represents you well. Nobody that floods the ‘Net with junk will ever be viewed as an authoritative or trustworthy source.
In all actuality, Google hasn’t changed what they want. They are just answering the calls of millions of Google users who are tired of the search engine results pages (SERP) being littered with less-than-desirable listings. If improving quality all the way around is the “new era” of article marketing then I’m all for it.
Want more info on the Panda Update? Here you go!
Other Panda resources:
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