Did Panda kill article marketing?
Google's recent algorithm update, which has been widely referred to as Panda or Farmer, saw a number of well-known article submission websites lose rankings.
These sites are types of directories that will publish articles from third parties in exchange for a back link.
Article submission sites vary enormously in terms of submission policy, scope, size and set-up, but some of the big, generic domains were among the hardest hit when Panda went live in the US earlier this month.
We've seen a good number of Panda's biggest loser blog posts and article directories are well represented in all of them.
So does this mean that this particular content marketing strategy – producing content, firing it off to submission sites and waiting for inbound links – is dead?
Before you make a judgement on that, here are a couple of important considerations. Firstly, the value of back links from some article submission sites will have been in relative decline long before Panda / Farmer.
Secondly, it's worth noting that not all submission sites lost out in the update. There would seem to still be a place for article marketing sites that target particular niches or that employ stricter quality control measures.
Sites that are taking proper steps to ensure their articles are of a sufficient editorial standard, variety and originality should still pass valuable link juice.
Interesting though that Google's Matt Cutts came down pretty firmly against article marketing as a tactic this week.
"I'm not a huge fan of article marketing," he said in a post on his YouTube channel. "Typically the sites that publish these articles are not the highest quality sites. Typically the articles themselves are not the highest quality… you end up with a lot of duplicate content across the web."
Cutts urged website owners to invest in quality content that naturally attracts inbound links and to use social media as a means of getting that content in front of more people.
Our view on article marketing is that if you can find the right site, it can still be a useful tool, even after Panda / Farmer comes to Australia.
Matt Cutts' major problems with article marketing appear to be poor quality content, on poor quality sites, duplicated a number of times.
If you write or commission decent, relevant, original content and publish only once on a reputable, well put together site that sits in your niche, you can get worthwhile back links while building your brand's reach and reputation.