Is Article Marketing the Reason You’re Not Making Any Real Money?

by James Martell · 32 comments

This is a guest post by James Martell

Are you trying to make your website profitable? Are you struggling to earn traffic, PageRank, and top 10 Google results? Are you spending far too much time, money, and effort on marketing without getting the results you need?

No, the Internet isn’t broken and their’s still tons of money to be made out their but it’s time that you got wise about how you’re doing what you’re doing.

In fact, one of the main reasons you’re not doing as well as you could be is that you’re relying on an outdated and ineffective marketing tool: Article Marketing.

article marketing tips

It’s Time to Get Serious About Marketing Your Website

A lot of people still spend time and money in the article marketing game trying to “trick” search engines into upgrading their PageRank. By creating hundreds or even thousands of backlinks through duplicate content mass distributed across the Internet, these folks think that they can get ahead of everyone else in the search marketing game by clogging search engines.

They create hundreds of low quality articles (because they take little time, effort, or money individually) and submit them to article farms or article directories.

These directories exist for one purpose and one purpose only: to mass distribute that content to anyone who wants it. The idea is that by making these “articles” available for other website owners to publish, the anchor text links including in the articles will result in a backlink—thereby adding “Google Juice” to the original website. Unfortunately for those people practicing this deceptive strategy, they’re wasting their time and money!

Search marketing just doesn’t work that way . . . anymore.

There was a time in the not too distant past when article marketing like I’ve described above could create tons of traffic, generate a significant revenue stream, and required very little actual work by the website owner. That’s no longer the case.

The Death of The Article Farms

Recent updates to Google’s algorithms (the latest occurring in 2011) were designed to attack content farms but effectively undercut  article marketers.


These changes handicapped the entire article marketing process and now those websites that are still using article marketing could risk Google penalties!

Google recognized that search results generated by these sites (eHow, Demand Media, and EzineArticles to name a few) were hogging the top search results and making a mess of their service. People—everyday Google users—complained that they could no longer find what they were looking for and had to wade through far too much junk.

Fearing what that disastrous public image might do to the company itself, Google execs made the decision to revamp their engine.

Now Google places much more emphasis on the quality of the content they return in their search results. They’ve learned that people want real answers to their questions, real help with their problems, and real information on topics about which they are interested.

The search giant has created a razor-edged set of criteria that are applied to every website. In short, if a website or content on that site doesn’t add value to the everyday Google user’s life, that website or that content will not be highly ranked. In fact, some of that content may be filtered out of the search results all together!

How Article Marketing Can Kill Your Website

If you’re in the Internet or affiliate marketing business for fun, have a ton of time to kill, and don’t really care about your results or your revenue then I urge you to use article marketing. However, if you don’t have time to waste, want to continually build your revenue stream, and care about your website’s reputation then listen up.

Article marketing is a bad business model.

Why? Let’s examine the process.

  • First you have to create dozens of article (which means taking the time to write them yourself or paying and outsourced writer and waiting)
  • Next you have to get them on the article farms. This can mean struggling through a publications process which may need rewrites and may need membership fees.
  • Then you have to wait until your content is picked up by other website (and you have no control over which websites publish your articles—or if they pick them up at all!)
  • Next you enjoy a brief influx of traffic and backlinks (although the backlinks you’ll get are near worthless because they come from low-quality websites with low or even non-existent PageRanks).
  • Then your content is filtered from search results because the search engines pick up on the duplicates and make sure it never appears in their results (or at least nowhere near the top).

So what do you do after the traffic and backlinks stop coming in? You have to start the process all over with another round of articles.

Really, what you’re doing with article marketing is:

  1. Wasting your time
  2. Wasting your money
  3. Ruining the reputation (and possibly PageRank) of your website with poor quality content
  4. Accumulating useless junk backlinks
  5. Locking yourself into a vicious cycle that never ends (until Google becomes so smart that your content is filtered out before you even get the benefits of it!)

Don’t Believe Me? Believe GOOGLE!

Matt Cutts is head of Google’s Spam Team. He has gone on record in the past saying that you have nothing to fear from any other website linking to yours because no matter how low their quality score is, it will not affect yours.

And for a long time that was true. . . .

But the truth is that Google had no other way to protect their search results than to actively find out who these article farms were, who was working with them, and penalize the lot of them. In fact, Matt has publicly recanted that earlier statement and now says that your website may be penalized for inbound links from low-quality websites!

And that’s exactly what you’re inviting when you use article marketinglow quality backlinks.

When Matt was recently asked what he thought of article marketing as a strategy to increase PageRank, traffic, and backlinks, Matt said that he was never a fan of the process. In his own words:

“People are not huge fans of article marketing. . .”

And Google now weighs the intention of the person linking the articles (as much as a computer algorithm can) and decides whether these automatic backlinks should be as important as “deliberate editorial links.” (Guess what—they’re not.)

“So, should you pursue article marketing? I would probably lean away from that and lean more towards great content that naturally has links. . .”

You heard it. Google’s head of spam says you should stay away from article marketing. He goes on to make a prophecy about the future of content farms and article marketing sites in a future dominated by search engines.

“So if I had to make a prophecy or forecast about how Google feels or how search engines feel about [article linking sites] in general, the trend that I am hearing and the sort of complaints that I am hearing are that people . . . don’t view [them] as an incredible value add in terms of the content that gets added to the web.”

If you want to improve your website, why would engage in article marketing—a process that one of the decision makers at Google say he doesn’t like and one he says adds no value to the Internet?

And where would Matt hear these anti-article marketing grumbles except inside the hallowed Google offices?

So how should you go ahead without article marketing to “fall back on?”

I agree with Matt here 100% when he says that the surest way to get the results you’re looking for (and the results your websites need) is to add value to the Internet.

Great content that people like and spread virally will always beat the watered-down garbage that most article marketers are pushing as quality content.

So, if the process is so bad for business . . .

Why Are So Many People Endorsing Article Marketing?

The short answer is they’re making money on it. The majority of the people who are promoting article marketing are profiting from the process somehow.

Either they are:

  • “Writers” (more likely companies who sell you job to the lowest bidder) selling “articles” (which are grammatically correct garbage stuffed with whatever keywords you want)
  • Salespeople pushing automation software that makes the process easier
  • “Gurus” who have endorsed article marketing for so long that they don’t want to look bad by admitting they were wrong
  • or . . .
  • People just like you who have bought the hype hook line and sinker and are convinced that they are getting the best results they possibly can.

I’ve been in the Internet marketing business for over a decade, since I went full-time in 1999.

I’ve seen a lot of people pushing a lot of bad ideas and article marketing remains one of the most popular. I know it doesn’t work anymore—in fact, I’ve never used it. But I think many people are so attracted to it because they just don’t know what else to do.

They’re looking for something that promises to make becoming successful at this “Internet thing” easy, quick, and painless so they latch onto any tools or techniques they think can help. The lucky ones figure out (before it’s too late) that the process isn’t worth the effort and find another way to earn the quality backlinks they need to improve their websites ranking. Others will hold onto article marketing until it goes completely under (like link sharing did at the turn of the century).

Even my own students have been tempted into using article marketing (Against my better judgment). Two students of my affiliate marketing trainings have become successful affiliate marketers themselves in a relatively short amount of time using the training and techniques I endorse. However, when Paula and Wanda decided to give article marketing a try they found out very quickly that it was not for them.

After barely testing the waters these two savvy marketers saw how article marketing could potentially:

  • Endanger their PageRank (thanks to all those low-quality inbound links)
  • Become a colossal times suck (or money if they paid writers)
  • Didn’t get the results they were used to getting with the techniques I taught them
  • Almost necessitated automation software (which would require investments of time and money)
  • Really wasn’t worth the effort

Thankfully those two got back to doing what had made them so successful in the first place and left article marketing in the dust.

The PAD Technique to the Rescue!

I’ve used the PAD Technique since I first developed in 2004. While this marketing technique does involve the creation and distribution of articles to get traffic and backlinks, it differs from article marketing in three major ways.

1. PAD Articles are (and have to be) HIGH Quality – With article marketing pretty much any 400 word piece of fluff can be used as long as it contains the right keywords, the right anchor text, and a minimal amount of information. PAD articles on the other hand have to be high quality. These articles are designed to be used on one website by one webmaster. Therefore, they undergo so much scrutiny that they have to be good.

I’m not saying they have to be Nobel Prize good but PAD articles must be:

A. Informative
B. Well written
C. Easy to read
D. About a topic that’s germane to the website
E. Contain appropriate anchor text links

The best way you can make the publishing process easy is to craft the best quality article you can (or hire somebody to do so) before you ever submit it to the webmaster. Funny thing is, the better the article, the better it will serve you as far as drawing traffic and viral interest.

2. PAD Articles Appear on One Specific Website – While the whole point of article marketing is to get your content on as many pages as possible (in the mistaken belief that all backlinks are created equal in the eyes of Google), PAD articles are designed to be published on one website. These articles are either written for the website or written about a topic that would naturally be found on the website. In some ways PAD articles are similar to guest blog post—though they are generally more motive-driven.

With the PAD Technique, the quality of the website on which you’re posting your content is the key to getting a good backlink. By finding out the PageRank of the website you’re interested in publishing to, you not only learn whether it would be worth the effort but you learn just how much weight Google is likely to put on a backlink from that site.

Hint: One good quality backlink is worth a hundred, or maybe even several hundred low-quality backlinks!

3. The PAD Technique Requires Work – You can’t automate this system (though when you get used to the process it becomes much easier). Quick fixes and “tricks” in the Internet marketing business generally don’t work for very long, don’t work all that well, or cost you more than they’re worth. Article marketing is a quick fix.

The PAD Technique will deliver:

  • Good backlinks
  • Prequalified traffic
  • Higher PageRanks
  • Better search page results
  • And more interest from the end-user (the website’s visitors)

While it takes an effort to research and craft a good article, scout out potential websites, and convince the webmaster that the business arrangement is a win-win, once you set up the process as methodical (you can even use a checklist if it helps) it becomes easier.

While it may take two weeks or more for you to get your first PAD article up, if you keep on with it you can get 10 or fifteen up in a week once you get used to it. Just rinse and repeat!

What Happens If You Keep Using Article Marketing?

If you’re not happy with the current traffic and PageRank you have, article marketing isn’t going to help.

Einstein once defined insanity as repeating the same actions over and over and expecting different results. By that reasoning, all article marketers are insane!

But it would be more right to say that article marketers are repeating the same process over and over and getting worse results as time goes by.

They are relying on a system that’s on its last legs. Google is leading the purge on article marketing sites, content farms, and other disreputable websites but other search engines are following the search giant’s vanguard. Soon, there won’t be any left.

If you continue to use article marketing – a technique that we know Google doesn’t like – do you really expect to increase your traffic flow, income stream, and overall financial stability?

Instead you’re likely to see your revenues decrease and your traffic dry up as Google refines its algorithms even further and takes away the advantage that Internet spammers now enjoy.

Don’t you owe it to yourself to try something new? To invest a little time and effort into learning a system that works today, will work tomorrow, and will never lose favor with the search engines?

Not Convinced?

If you think article marketing is still as effective as it ever was or that Google will take no further action against content farms, I’d love to hear your reasoning.

On the other hand, if you agree with me but have an alternative method of generating precious high-quality backlinks, incoming traffic, and partly pre-qualified leads, let me know.

I only hope that through my experience I might be able to help you see that article marketing is bad for your business.

This post is a part of SmartBloggerz’s guest blogging contest where you can win cash prizes for earning the most points. Help this guest author win this contest by commenting and sharing this post using the buttons below.

About James Martell

You’ll receive money making tips and actionable tips and advice directly from James Martell when you subscribe to his weekly podcast by email, RSS feed or iTunes. You can also follow James on Twitter. Recognized as a leading expert in affiliate marketing training, James is the host of the "Affiliate Marketers SUPER BootCamp", and host of the "Affiliate Buzz", the first ever and longest running affiliate marketing podcasts in the industry. A sought-after speaker, James has presented at Commission Junction University, Affiliate Summit, The System Seminar, Digital River Lab, Pubcon, Affcon, and more.

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Jean August 21, 2011 at 6:58 am

I’ve never been a fan of the whole submitting your article to a few article directories in hopes of getting a backlink. I’ve always felt like like strategies like that Google will know of and automatically discredit websites for that link. Good thing I’ve always gone with my instincts on that one. It does seem odd though that there would be a penalty associated with a low quality link, after all penalties in place like that would mean that a competitor can easily sabotage a link, so I am guessing it has to be something really bad or obvious in order to get a penalty.


James Martell August 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Agreed! I would think as well that is “has to be something really bad or obvious in order to get the penalty”. Many are still however under the impression this is rare or non-existent at all.

If they don’t feel they can ever get hurt by an inbound link on another site they should talk to someone who has got caught purchasing inbound links. They would INSTANTLY learn you can get hurt by the wrong type of inbound links.

Sherry August 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I think I should send this article to my boss so he’ll stop asking me to do such thing. Investing long hours and huge effort on creating articles and directory submission is really just a waste. Better just to spend serious time in creating great content for the site.

James Martell August 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Hi Sherry, that’s hilarious — and yes you should. You may also want to send to my very recent podcast on the subject:

Coffee Talk Interview #69 – What Is Article Marketing? Is It Still an Effective Strategy? Can It Do More Harm Than Good?

If he gets through this article and that podcast I think you will find he’ll opt for a solid log term strategy.

You mentioned “Better just to spend serious time in creating great content for the site.” This is only half the story. The other have of the story is you should be posting quality articles on sites like this one.

One quality article on one quality website.


Loc August 22, 2011 at 3:11 am

I did article writing for a while and it took forever to finish write an article then upload it to a site. This is very time consumming.

I used to do this but not anymore, but I would take my time to write a really good article then spin about 100 articles from the original but still making sure the 100 spin articles is readable for the user. Then I would send it off to different article sites. A great way to get backlinks fast.

James Martell August 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Hey Loc, if you are still doing that today you may want to seriously reconsider your strategy. It’s highly dangerous to your rankings and would only be a matter of time before you’re toast.

Alexa August 30, 2011 at 9:35 am

why it would be dangerous for the website? I’m writing articles too and try to make them understandable and useful for readers

RobertMartin August 23, 2011 at 12:17 am

Opposing views are a great way to write such an interesting informative article. Your word choices and dictation have made this such an enjoyable article to read, producing quite a thought process along the way.

Zoro August 23, 2011 at 8:16 am

This is one thing I don’t like about article marketing. You will spend time and a lot of efforts publishing your write ups in the end it will be syndicated by auto blogs. Hey, what’s going on here? I wrote those articles what are they doing into your auto blog with a lot of Adsense,clink bank accounts and add amazon on the list. I guess if Google wants to deliver quality search results they will start fixing syndication first. We writers have the right to deserve this and get honored by our readers.

Nicole August 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

In order for us to be successful, we need to devote time and effort in everything that we do. All of the things written above are just mediums on how we can perhaps increase our chances of getting sighted. But then again hardwork should prevail above anything else.

Michelle Sterling October 27, 2011 at 10:11 pm

It’s never been a good idea to spam the web. This is true for article marketing as well as various SEO tasks. Search engines focus heavily on quality, and not quantity. In the beginning, search engine algorithms may have considered the notion that if there is a good amount of backlinks out there, then the site where those sites are linking to might be good as well. This definitely is not the case today for sure.

Noel Addison November 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I find this article very informative. You have discussed very well the threat that article marketing can bring to your business. People mostly think that having hundreds of backlinks is good and they disregard the danger of it. I totally agree with you that having one high quality backlink is much more effective than hundreds of crappy backlinks.

Addie February 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm

True! And I think it is better to build a few high quality backlinks and build them up, when i say build them up, you take care of your backlinks not just ignore them, rather than building tons of spammy backlinks.

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