Article Marketing: Matt Cutts is Wrong

by on March 29, 2011

in Search Engine Optimization

Recently, I came across this video featuring Google’s Matt Cutts addressing the question: Do You Recommend Article Marketing? While I’m not surprised by his response, I don’t agree. Here’s what he has to say:

What’s Article Marketing?

Article marketing is a form of promotion that uses articles focused on a specific topic, industry or pursuit to build awareness and links for a business. Subject-specific articles are written with the purpose of distribution to directories where webmasters seeking content can use them as long as they agree to include a resource box that includes a byline and hyperlinks to the original source. Well written articles that are free to use can boost a business’ credibility and the syndication to multiple websites can provide a number of valuable backlinks.

Why Matt Cutts is Wrong About Article Marketing

Matt Cutts makes a number of assumptions about article marketing and we all know what happens when you ASSUME, right? Some of these assumptions include:

  • All Articles Are Poor Quality
  • Quality of the Websites That Host Articles is Poor
  • Quality of the Websites That Host Articles Matters
  • Links from Articles Don’t Pass Value

In short, these are all bad assumptions. I’ve worked with a number of companies where article marketing is part of our internet marketing strategy and it works.

Don’t Be Stupid: Article Marketing Can Work For You

In my opinion, article marketing can work if it’s approached with a focus on providing value. In short, here are a few recommendations that will help you get value from your article marketing efforts:

Write Unique Articles – Don’t just regurgitate crappy articles taken from the web. Put together a well-written piece that focuses on a topic of interest to your niche. And proofread it.

Meet the Standard Criteria – Write articles that meet the generally accepted, standard criteria. Normally a 600 word, five paragraph article with keyword rich headlines and a brief resource box works well.

Stay Focused – Focus on a primary topic. Generally I focus on a primary keyword with a handful of supporting and secondary keywords. For example, for an article focused on bridal jewelry I’d select bridal jewelry as a primary keyword and select bridal jewelry gifts, custom bridal jewelry, vintage bridal jewelry, etc…

That’s my opinion on article marketing; it’s worked for me, but I make every attempt to provide value to the ultimate end user. How about you?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

John March 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Bill –
I agree. I use article marketing/guest blogging as a strategy, at least at this point, to build authority in a niche. It involves a bit of work, and you must be a decent writer, but I am finding this a good way to get started and it opens other opportunities as well.

If you haven’t heard of it, I recommend MyBlogGuest.com as a resource for finding guest blog opportunities. It’s run by an SEO, and it’s a great tool.

See you at the Meetup in April?

Reply

Bill March 30, 2011 at 6:55 am

John,

Thanks for the comment. Like you, I’ve found that article marketing can work with the application of some effort and a focus on providing quality content. Unfortunately, too many people want to automate it to the point where garbage is churned out – Which is where I think Matt Cutts gets his opinion…

I’ve heard of MyBlogGuest but I haven’t given it a try; I’ll look at it more closely and maybe we can compare notes.

Lastly, we’ll definitely catch up in April at the Philadelphia SEO Grail.

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John March 30, 2011 at 8:10 am

Bill –

I agree that too much content on these sites is automatically churned out. This is why I don’t submit to article “hubs”, like EzineArticles or eHow, but rather build relationships with website owners and write guest posts for them. Then, you get an authoritative site in your niche, with a followed link or two, where people may actually read your information and click through to your own website. It’s a win-win situation. The website owner gets a quality article, you get a quality link or two, and traffic comes to both sites.

Matt Cutts’ opinion is, I think, valid from the perspective you said, and I agree with him there. However, to label “article marketing” as being invalid because of some bad eggs is simply a bad idea.

See you at Triumph.

John

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tomharari March 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Bill – good post. My only question is, do you think that Article Directories are actually read by users? If so, do you have any favorites you would share? From my (limited) experience these seem like channels to use to gain links, and that’s about it.

This topic actually came up at the Distilled Link Building seminar in New Orleans and Rand Fishkin says he despises Article Marketing, partly because they’re manipulative, and partly because they’re so effective. But effective at what – gaining links to improve rankings.

So my question is, what’s the point in putting so much effort into an article that will go to an article directory, like the point you make here, when you could easily pay under $10 for a good enough article, use a spinner to get 10 different variations, and use article marketing robot to disseminate? And if that’s the best it gets, then are Article Directories really a strong signal of influence or authority that SHOULD count (they obviously do now) ?

Curious to hear your thoughts on that… hope to see you at the April SEO meetup.
-Tom Harari

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Bill March 30, 2011 at 7:51 am

Tom,

Thanks for the in-depth comment; you’ve made some good points and brought up some interesting questions.

In general, I’d be surprised if a significant number of the articles are read by visitors to articles directories; these sites tend to be hubs where webmasters come to obtain content, so their true power is the ability to distribute an article to sites across the web.

Great to hear that you made it to NoLa – I’m sure Wil, Rand and all the other great speakers were full of good information. From a philosophical perspective, I appreciate Rand’s position and don’t disagree – in a perfect world article marketing would probably not be as productive as it is. But we don’t live in a perfect world and this tactic works (when done well).

From a practical standpoint, SEOs need to assess the competitive landscape to determine whether it’s cost effective to produce one-off articles to build authority and links in their chosen vertical. Using the scenario you suggest and understanding the level of competition commonly found on the web, I think not. However, since the real power of article marketing is not the directories themselves but the websites that use them, producing a solid article and making it available on sites like ezinearticles.com, buzzle.com or goarticles.com continues to be worthwhile.

Hope to see you in April.

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Bill Sebald March 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Good points. I think it’s interesting that he didn’t really focus on the automation tactics most article marketers use. I would have thought that would be a speech in and of itself.

His definition is rather short sighted.

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Bill March 30, 2011 at 7:57 am

Thanks Bill.

We’ve been chewing on these points for some time. I don’t see a difference between hiring a squad of people through O-Desk or using an automation tool, so it would be interesting to hear Matt’s take on it. Since Google uses automation extensively, I would think that it would be tough for them to throw stones. The danger occurs when automation compromises quality.

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