**UPDATE Nov 2009**  This article was originally written 3/28/2008, and it was definitely time to update it.  Article Marketing is still alive and well, and it’s about time you took advantage of this little hidden gem that could help to put your blog on top of the search results!

Building Quality Backlinks is easy when you follow my diy tutorial guide on how to promote your blog or web site with article directories!

There are tons of ways to promote your web site and blog, and I outline quite a few of them in my Link Building Cheat Sheet. In this guide we’re going to focus on the art of “article marketing”, or submitting original content to article directories in exchange for promotion and free linkbuilding.

What is an Article Directory?

An article directory is a repository for people who write content. But it’s not a web site for “budding writers” per se. It’s for people who have something to promote. It’s a “quid quo pro” (this for that) arrangement. The owner of the article directory needs content to draw visitors. You need to build links across the web to get better search rankings so you can get traffic to your web site or blog. If you write quality content and follow their guidelines and rules, the article directories will let you publish there. And at the end of each article you can put a short bio as author, and include 3 or 4 links to landing pages of your choice. That’s the exchange. In addition, article directories allow anyone to “republish” the content as long as the title, body, and links are kept intact. So in addition to getting links in the article diretory in exchange for your content, you also get them across the web if many sites republish your articles as well.

Article Directory Rules and Guidelines

There are hundreds of article directories across the web that you can submit your articles to, and each one has it’s own rules and guidelines. I’m going to go over the most important things you should know about submitting articles to one of the more reputable and well known article directories EzineArticles.com.

ezine articles logo EzineArticles.com is one of the most well known aticle directories on the web. They have a google pagerank or 6 and an Alexa rating of 143. Not bad for an article directory to be in the top 200 web sites online! Any one can sign up for membership – it’s free. They get hundreds of thousands of visitor’s per day, and all the articles are read and approved by hand by living breathing editors. There is a list of very important things you need to know before submitting your first article:

  • You must be 100% sole author of the content you submit
  • You cannot use any direct affiliate links. You can direct readers to your site and give them an affiliate link there, but not directly in an article
  • No public domain or “private label rights” content
  • Must have proper English grammer, spelling, and punctuation
  • Nothing obscene or adult can be used
  • Cannot contain content that violates the law or is libelous in any way
  • Cannot be a duplicate of content you already submitted
  • Must not contain excessive bold keyword and phrases, bolding is limited to headings and subheadings
  • Must be unique and share your expertise, like tips, strategies, techniques, analysis, opinions and commentary
  • You cannot use more than 5 lines of quoted or sourced material

In addition to those basic rules (most of which are common sense) there are some “formatting” rules as well you need to know:

  • You can’t use all caps in your article title
  • You can’t use quotes in your title
  • You can’t end your title with a period
  • You can’t use excessive punctuation, you get one ! or ? at a time
  • You can’t use your web site name or URL in a title
  • Titles must be two unique words or more
  • Your author name must be your actual name
  • Articles must be at least 250 words, but less than 5,000 words
  • Do not repeat your article title in the article body
  • Copyrights must be at the bottom of the article
  • The article body must deliver what is promised in the article title
  • Too much blatant self promotion (in the body) and the article will be tossed
  • The HTML tags you can use are pretty basic for formatting only: bold, italic, underline, pre, ol, ul, and li
  • Everything else is not allowed, such as Javascript, images, font size colors and changes, H heading tags, or the HR horizontal rule

How to submit articles

The first time I submitted an article I made the mistake of using quotes in the title. It also had a bunch of URL’s in the body (I didn’t know you couldn’t do that). Then they made me remove the excessive bold and italics I had, and then I think finally it went through. The next article I submitted was rejected because it sounded to much “like a blog post”. I had to rewrite it and remove references eluding to other posts and parts of my blog. I got nailed once for inadvertantly using an affiliate link, and another time because I linked to my own blog in the body of the article when it should have been in the footer. I’ve had some articles only have one problem I need to revise before it was approved, and others have 6 different revisions. I seem to learn something every time I submit, and the last so many I’ve submitted have sailed right through.

My basic advice to you is to put a lot of thought into your articles. Make them keyword rich in both the titles and the body, and use good linkbait in the title and the first few sentences of the body. Write compelling, authoritative, detailed articles of at least 500-1,000+ words. I’ve read so many articles that were just utter crap. A good example was when I was looking for some good mobile or cell phone articles, and the only ones I seemed to find were trash that just reiterated the spec sheet of a phone and how hip and cool it was. There was no opinion, no real world experience, and absolutely nothing to lead me to believe that the author was an expert in much of anything.  These are articles with no real value.

EzineArticles has also been cracking down on what they call  “derivitave content”.  That’s where you rehash an article and turn it into many different versions just for the purpose of submitting to the directory.  You don’t want this, they have derivitave content filters in place now to find these articles and remove them from the directory.  In addition, they found that 90% of the derivitave content they found was only 300-400 words and poor quality.

I want to take this opportunity (once again) to remind you that you’re building a “brand”. You want someone to read your article and think “wow – they really know what the hell they’re talking about, I want to read more by them…”. Don’t think of article submission as an opportunity to just “build links”. It’s an entire online marketing mission to show people how strong your “brand” really is. You building a reputation as an author that will compell readers to want to read your byline and find out what else you have to offer. You have an opportunity to do this from both the Ezine Articles site, but also from all the sites that republish your content. And the better your content is – the more sites that will want to republish it.

It isn’t easy to make sure your article contains all the elements required for success. But, as usual – I will give you a checklist to consider:

Before submission your article should:

  • Conform to the article directory guidelines
  • Contain a keyword rich catchy (but not lengthy) title enticing readers to click and publishers to want to republish you
  • Have a body that begins with a keyword rich 2-3 sentence synopsis of what the article is about and what makes it useful
  • Be very detailed and compelling tip, tutorial, opinion, analysis, technique, or strategy outlining your expertise
  • Be straighforward giving detailed action points readers can put into use
  • Have a very subtle hook towards the end compelling people to read your bio (which could be as simple as “to see all the pictures/audio/video associated with the original version of this article click here)
  • Contain a very well thought out bio with at least 3-4 keyword laden links leading to important landing pages you need to direct traffic to
  • Contain enough keywords and linkbait (on a popular topic) to entice many site owners to republish your article

What to Expect from Article Directory Promotion

EzineArticle 3/2008 stats

EzineArticle 3/2008 stats

All in all I have been very pleased with Article Directory promotion and what it’s done for me.   When I originally wrote this post over a year and a half ago – I’d only been using it for 6 weeks. The image to the left shows that for my 20 submitted articles to EzineArticles.com at the time over 2,500 people had read them. I had thought that was great since I’ve viewed many author profiles that have 4-5,000 views for 10 or less articles over the last 3-4 years. My 2,500+ views had been in less than 2 months. The stats say that 65 people have click my footer links back to one of my web sites, but more importantly my articles have been published 56 times. With at least 3 links in each footer, that means I built at least 150 backlinks to my sites – and that’s in addition to the original 60 backlinks in the footers right here on Ezine Articles. One time someone has emailed my article to a friend, and two people have “voted” for my articles (5 stars – w00t!).

EzineArticles 11/2009 stats

EzineArticles 11/2009 stats

Now let’s see what the stats are 18 months later!  Wow!  My stats have really grown! 193 articles published, 90,000+ article views – I’d say this was a pretty good investment of my time!  And in my opinion, when you build these kinds of links they normally have a longer shelf-life than regular blog comments.

Now, a year and a half later – time has shown how effective of a tool that was.  The SERP’s for the links I built improved driving even more traffic to my site(s). I can give you a real world example of how it helped at least one of my sites right off the bat. On Feb 22nd, I submitted The Best Blonde Jokes as my 5th article to Ezine Articles. Under “Author Tools” in your profile, Ezine Articles provides some more detailed stats on everything you’ve published. It’s here where you can get numbers on the individual articles themselves. I checked for this article, and to date it’s been republished only 2 times. But those two times and the article here on Ezine Articles must’ve done something – because a very low activity web site I built the links for with this article came back to life from the grave. Check out these stats from my WordPress dashboard:

top jokes wordpress stats

My site Top Jokes rarely got more than 100 views per day (usually 10-20) and about a week after publishing the blonde joke article it came alive again out of the blue. I have nothing to attribute this growth to except for that lone article submission. I can’t say that this will happen every time for every article you submit and build links for, but over time your bound to have more success than failure.

It’s Easier Than You Think

You’re probably thinking that writing completely original content just to submit to article directories is a very tedious and time consuming task!  You’re right!  However, you can use existing articles you’ve already written on your own blog or web site and submit them to Ezine Articles and other article directories.  I’ve done this personally for a very long time, and there have been detractors that have screamed “duplicate content!” from the highest hill – and yet it has not affected me one Iota.

If you don’t believe me, read these quotes from the last Ezine Articles newsletter I received from article directory owner Christopher M. Knight:

“Let me be clear:  You SHOULD submit existing articles and content from your web site or blog”

“Repackaging Existing Articles On Your Website Now and Submitting Them To EzineArticles Does NOT Trigger Our Derivative Content Filters”

“Find a New Audience by Submitting Your Existing Content AND Your Brand New, Original Articles to EzineArticles.com”

It couldn’t be any clearer than that – could it?

Where else can I submit Articles?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Personally I only submit articles to Ezine Articles, GoArticles.com, and ArticleBlast.com.  Actually, the last so many I’ve done I’ve gotten REALLY lazy with and only submitted to Ezine Articles, but I really should follow up and submit to the other 2 as well. GoArticles is really lax with their submissions, it’s almost a free for all, and articles are published immediately when you click “submit”. Article Blast has at least a few basic requirements, but it’s very easy to submit to as well.

Here’s a list of the top 20 article directories according to Alexa ranking and pagerank.  Of course, you want to stay away from any of the ones that are NF! or that nofollow your links in the author byline box (rendering them useless).  If you want the full list, visit the Top 50 list of article directories – that’s where I took this top 15 list from.

URL Alexa
Rating
Google
Pagerank
No Follow
1. ezinearticles.com 143 6
2. articlesbase.com 578 5 NF!
3. buzzle.com 1,437 5
4. goarticles.com 1,854 6
5. helium.com 1,971 6
6. articlealley.com 3,347 5 NF!
7. articlesnatch.com 3,510 5 NF!
8. articledashboard.com 3,703 5
9. amazines.com 5,555 2
10. searchwarp.com 5,610 4 NF!
11. ideamarketers.com 5,655 3
12. isnare.com 8,355 6
13. a1articles.com 8,550 5
14. submityourarticle.com/articles/ 10,394 4
15. articlecity.com 10,489 5

Automated Article Submission?

Use that list wisely. Whatever you do, don’t get sucked into one of these hairbrained schemes (software or service) that spams your article to hundreds (or god-forbid thousands!) of directories at once. Look – you’re practically spamming your content if you do that and just plain devalueing it as well. Don’t write your own google penalty. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, stick to submitting what you can manage and and handle by hand – don’t go automated.

How Many Articles Should I Submit?

This is the one well most people fall flat – and I have to admint that I haven’t taken advantage of article marketing nearly as much as I should have in the last year and a half.  I only have 38 articles listed in EzineArticles , and I should have a minimum of 150.  That’s about 2 a week.  Let me illustrate the difference between success and mediocrity with article marketing.  I read a post a few months back about the most successful diet program on Clickbank which had paid more than 12 million in commissions in a single calendar year.  Out of 2,600 affiliates the top 30 earned nearly all the commissions for that year.  When asked about their promotional methods, every single one had utilized article marketing and all had published from 150-500+ articles each.  That’s a lot of work, but that’s also a lot of commission!  It’s the difference between success and failure, and why usually only a small percentage of affiliates in any program or network make the bulk of the commissions.

If you have success promoting your web site or blog because of my “Guide to Article Marketing” – I’d like to hear about it. Have a question? Same thing – please comment now below!