Matt Cutts: Article Directories A Very Bad Idea

Posted by Hiren Vaghela

February 15, 2014

Content Marketing 15 min read

If you have been working in the SEO industry for a couple of years or more, you have definitely witnessed the days when article submissions was a big craze among all SEO’s. The process was quite simple – quickly write an article and submit it to hundreds of directories, put inbound links to your site, and hope that others will post the articles on their own sites in order to add content.

Article Directories

However, the article directories were very soon out of the scope for many webmaster as a result of Google’s penalties and the filters for duplicate content. Having said that, many of us have witnessed there are still many directories that are actively backing articles, and also publishers who frequently republish the content.

So, what is Google’s stance on these article directories such as Ezine in the year 2014? Is it good or bad? Matt Cutts, search spam head at Google has recently released a video on this topic in the latest webmaster help series that kicks off with a history on the rise of the article directories.

Over the time article directories have become very unpopular and are not followed by many. So as a refresher, an article directory is normally a place where you submit a 300, 400 or a 500 or more words’ article and include a small author bio giving out information about the writer and the business, which helps in earning 3 links with a keywords rich anchor text at the bottom. Followed by that, the articles are submitted to a bunch of sites call the article directories, and anyone could download them either for free, or by paying an amount and use it on their own website.

While Matt Cutts video is specifically referring to, there are more than hundreds of article directories of the similar kind that accept articles and site owners and publishers from all over. Writers believe that they will get links out of it and hope to get a bit of traffic with the help of these article directories, however these sites often intend to make money by advertising the articles or even from malware and spyware.

The whole philosophy behind this is that you might get a few links if someone finds it useful for their audience and put it on their webpage. This attraction for links sometimes leads us to come up with a content that is not as useful and is low in quality. This has become a widely practiced method and what Matt Cutts and his team have witnessed is such content is being made viral all over the web that contains all the aspects of spamming. So, Matt Cutts opinion is that it is not an effective way for building links if you are writing just one article and just wildly uploading it and distributing to every article site on the web and just hoping that all would download and use it on their own website.

Serious SEO’s have already dumped article submissions or directories years ago. However, there are some webmasters who still believe that there is some opportunity in this and think of article directories as a great idea, but fail to understand the consequences of it. The fact is that article directories have become over-written with thin, low quality, spammy and stolen content, but people just fail to realize that.

Cutts has also given a hint that their algorithm is constantly on the lookout and is even penalizing mass article directory spam. He has stated that they have some algorithmic updates and it means that there is very less likelihood of the articles working in the current scenario than how it used to work years ago. He personally recommends not to upload articles like that on any article submissions site.

Article directories have not been used by many SEO practitioners and the same should be clearly understood by many webmasters are article submissions is a very bad idea. In the current scenario, the most convenient and useful way is to get topic ideas from the articles that are already submitted on these sites and rewrite the same in their own words for their sites, as there will be no benefit acquired from submitting the articles to them.


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