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In fact, one of the main reasons you’re not doing as well as you could be is that you’re relying on an outdated and ineffective marketing tool: Article Marketing.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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Kostas@Online Opportunities August 17, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I totally agree conventional article marketing by submitting articles to article directories it’s a waste of time and money, the only reason why people continue doing it, is because they are naive and they are impressed when they are told that they will get hundreds or even thousands backlinks.

There is a much more effective way of “article marketing” where you usually get only 2 backlinks with real value, this is guest posting on quality blogs that are related to your site. Guest posting will not only bring quality backlinks but instant traffic too and most importantly help build your brand and reputation in your field

Kokz August 18, 2011 at 4:59 am

Great post and very true indeed. I would also rather go for guest posting which should really help my blog to gain attention of the search engines. Thanks for sharing some profound knowledge out here.

James Martell August 20, 2011 at 2:27 am

Hey Kokz, thanks. I am glad to hear you enjoyed the article. I am also a BIG fan of guest writing followed quality well-trafficked websites (like this one). It’s by far the best way to go!


James Martell August 18, 2011 at 7:04 am

Hi Kostas,

It is amazing to me to see how many people article publishing their articles to the article directories. It’s is either they don’t know better, or they are a little lazy and just want to see their article published.

I am also a BIG fan of guest posting. It is really all anyone needs to do to gather in all of the *quality* links they need to gain top rankings, expand their audience, build their brand and reputation as you say, and get the satisfaction of getting their article published.


steven August 18, 2011 at 7:44 am

James. Everytime you post or write an article I read it! Your articles are the perfect example of your own technique.

James is there a general estimate to the number of PAD backlinks would need to get great rankings on a keyword?

James what is your opinion on your social bookmarking, forum profiles, paid and free site directories and 3rd party social sites (ex: squidoo) for generating backlinks as many people also preach.

James Martell August 20, 2011 at 2:42 am

Hi Steven, thanks for the kudos. I appreciate it.

I have found that to get a page rankings for mid-range type keywords such as the ones shared below you need about 20 good backlinks.

Electrolux front load washer
Electrolux front load washer reviews
Electrolux front load washer review
Electrolux front loading washer
Electrolux front load washers
Electrolux front loading washing machines
Electrolux front loading washing machine reviews
Electrolux front loading washing machine

The 20 total backlinks would use varied up anchor text as shown above. They would also be used 2-3x to make up the 20.

In a recent podcast I also talked about what our experience has been for those wanting to create a 5 figure income with affiliate programs and how many backlinks you would typically need.

You may finding it interesting.

Affiliate Buzz #206 – How Many Backlinks Do You Need To Earn a 5-Figure Income?

I would guess that “social bookmarking, forum profiles, paid and free site directories” does have some effect on rankings — just not much. I would say for the most part it can be just a bunch of busy work with not a lot to show for it.

As for “3rd party social sites (ex: squidoo) for generating backlinks. It is pretty much a waste of time. The pages look great but I would have to believe Google neutralized their backlinking effectiveness years ago — because we have control over adding the links to their pages.

I would suggest that posting a quality article on another quality website – PAD as I call it — is all you need for top rankings.


Cally@Fakturaköp August 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Great article on a important subject matter.

Article catalogs or content farms really don’t hold much value since google panda, and its a long a tedious route to getting your content seen.

I agree with you when it comes to guest posts, thats a great way of getting more readers and showing you content for people that are interested in reading it.

This was a great article by the way, even if i already was aware of the problem i got me to think about my marketing strategies. Fantastic! 😉

James Martell August 20, 2011 at 2:44 am

Hey Cally, thanks for the kudos. I am glad to hear I got you to think about you marketing strategies. It’s all food for thought.


Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson August 19, 2011 at 1:19 am

Hi James

A great post here, but be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I think that you’re lumping all article marketing into the spammy, spun like crazy crap that has flooded the directories and triggered the Panda update.

Well written, quality articles submitted to key directories can still bring benefits beyond SEO. Also, the directories are a good source of articles for your site if you’re willing to hunt a little bit.

I don’t see how your PAD technique differs from guest posting though. It sounds the same to me, but maybe I missed a key component of it.

Suain August 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm

There is no short cut to success. People always searching for short cuts and end up loosing in midway. Hard work always end up in success.

James Martell August 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

Yes agreed. It seems the one BIG thing that derails the success for so many is that they are always looking for the shortcut…when in reality there isn’t one.


Mat@Samsung Tablet August 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm

I fully agree and I have noticed as well that article marketing don’t exists now and you need real, informative and good quality contents to get noticed by search engines. PAd as you have suggested might be the answer for article marketing.

James Martell August 22, 2011 at 11:03 am

The PAD technique is really the answer for anyone who is looking for a long-term and sustainable backlinking strategy that isn’t offensive to Google.


James Martell August 20, 2011 at 2:51 am

Hi Bill, agreed to “be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater”. It’s really all about the type of article marketing someone is engaged in. The article marketing style I am referring to is the “spammy, spun like crazy crap that has flooded the directories”.

I am all for writing a quality article and posting it once on a quality website — that has editorial control over what is or isn’t published.

As for “how your PAD technique differs from guest posting”. They really are pretty much one in the same. The thing with this new thing we call guest posting is that it is a relatively new phenomenon whereas we’ve been using PAD (posting a quality article on one quality website) since 2004.

It’s just that the Internet has finally woken up to this strategy on mass. Now let’s just hope they don’t screw it up.


Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson August 20, 2011 at 3:20 am

James, it sounds like the old story of the guy who did it first didn’t get the credit and name. PAD sounds much more high tech than guest posting.

As for getting it screwed up, I’m sure they’ll find a way. They did it for comments, forums and article directories. It’s starting in YouTube (hence the resent account closures). At least with PAD/GP they won’t be able to ride on someone else’s hard work.

James Martell August 22, 2011 at 11:07 am

Yes I do feel like that at times. 😉

PAD really is guest posting but within a framework and system to get the right type of articles out there in a timely manner with appropriate anchor text usage, follow-up and tracking.

It is also more work than most are willing to do so it’ll never get screwed up. Fingers crossed.


Garish @ Blogging Tips August 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Hi James, You have written an epic over here, I must say I enjoyed this epic a lot 🙂
Article marketing is really dead (after those spammers flooded them with crap). And for the web 2.0 sites (as you said that they don’t hold any value too), I agree with you there also. Sites like squidoo and hubpages are good (too good) when It comes to using them to promote a product as a stand alone webpage; but when it comes to getting a backlink from that to our site to increse our rankings, then it helps nowhere. still hold a lot of backlink power (even after the panda, I have tested that); May be that because of the editorial check it requires before getting our content approved.

And as for the PAD technique you mentioned, It rocks. But one thing where it hurts is that you are directly exposing your selected untapped keyword to many others. Is it so in your case ?

One more strategy that still rules is Press releases. I can bet that they are the best (in terms of instant traffic) and passes the most powerful backlinks to our site (long term traffic).

James Martell August 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Hi Garish, I can see we are in agreement for most points. The one thing you mentioned that I am skeptical (in a friendly way) is where you said “ still hold a lot of backlink power (even after the panda, I have tested that); May be that because of the editorial check it requires before getting our content approved.”

It has been my experience that ezines hasn’t been a good source of backlink power for years. It was a good source to publish an article in the hopes that someone with a quality site would pick up a copy and publish it as well. It’s too easy and Google always nixes the too easy stuff.

I fully agree with you on using press releases. We always have good experiences when we use

Garish @ Blogging Tips August 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm

hmm, Glad you catched up with me.

And What you think about this :

And as for the PAD technique you mentioned, It rocks. But one thing where it hurts is that you are directly exposing your selected untapped keyword to many others. Is it so in your case ?

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