What is an Article Directory?

The term “article directory” can be applied to a number of different websites and products, but among digital marketers, article directories typically refer to websites that gather, curate and manage various types of articles on select topics for the purpose of generating more traffic and advertising revenue.

By generating or collecting content that can rank highly on search engine results for the target keyword queries, article directories hope to generate the mass volume of traffic that can generate significant advertising revenues. Some article directories also share a portion of the advertising revenue they generate with the authors of the content on their sites.

Many respected publications, such as online newspapers and magazines, actually function as article directories. Organizations such as the New York Times or the local Fox News affiliates produce and curate hundreds of multimedia content (news reports, photographs, charts, videos, podcasts, etc.) on their website each week, if not daily. These website content pieces are used to generate revenue for that website.

In general, however, the term “article directory” is typically used to describe websites such as eHow.com, squidoo.com and ezinearticles.com.

Article directories and SEO

Article directories are perhaps the best example of using SEO as a business model.

Using their understanding of how Google’s search engine algorithm rewarded certain types of articles with higher search engine rankings, article directories started gathering and publishing content for search engine users.

Article directories like these are often called content farms or content mills. The most aggressive article directories conduct regular keyword research to find high-value and trending keywords; they then have writers create content to rank for those target keywords. These articles are then platforms for paid placement advertisements, which would generate revenues for the website owner.

Unfortunately, the quality of the content in most article directories is not very high. They may be written by good writers, but not by topic experts, which is what Google tries to reward with higher rankings. As these low-quality articles ranked higher, the complaints to Google started increasing. Google’s Penguin algorithm update eventually penalized many of these content farm pages, so that they wouldn’t rank as highly.

Article directories and link building

Many SEOs have also used these article directories for link building. They would create and submit relevant articles to article directories, preferably those with high PageRank scores. These submitted articles would provide the SEO link-builders with a backlink on the article directory website, pointing to the link-builders’ own websites.

This link-building strategy worked for a while, but Google’s webspam team eventually set its sights on these links. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, explained in April 2014 that webmasters and SEO practitioners should not use article directories for linkbuilding.

Today, backlinks from article directories provide little to no SEO value. In some cases, they may actually produce penalties for the website ron the eceiving end of the backlink.


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