Article Marketing Then And Now What’s The Difference?

Ezine articleDo you remember the days you could publish a 250 word article on EzineArticles? Well, I do.

Yes, as incredible as it may sounds today in 2013, back in my article marketing days when I started writing on directories, and up to 2010 you could get away with a ridden keyword very short promotional article.  To give you a visual of what a 250 word article is, that’s not quite up to the end of the second paragraph of this post.  Needless to say that those days are over.  So, what’s the difference between article marketing then and article marketing now, and what was acceptable then and what are the standards today?

The Old Standards of Article Marketing

Until 2010 you could write very short articles that said little.   I remember writing 300-400 word articles for clients who wanted up to 8-10 keyword phrases per article.  I don’t know if you realize that, but 10 keyword phrases in a 400 word article that’s a keyword ever paragraph.  That’s pretty heavy.  I remember searching for ways to add keywords purposely, which in my book made no sense and was just ridiculous, but that’s how most article marketers wanted it done back then.  If you tried to reason with them that it was just too much and looked forced, they didn’t want to hear it.  All they cared about was to have the right percentage of keywords to rank high on Google.  That’s how it was and that’s how it worked.

For example, in one of his eBooks three years ago, article marketer Mark Thompson wrote this: “An ideal article for sites like EzineArticles is about 250-280 words.  Try not to go above 300 words, as this is where people start to lose interest.  With 250-280 words you won’t give too much important stuff away for free and your resource box will be above the fold where it will be seen without the reader having to scroll down the page”.

It sounds pretty bad for today’s standards, but they had a recipe for article content that went like this: Articles no longer than 300 so your resource box would be visible without the reader scrolling down your article.  Write your resource box with a specific keyword phrase as well as the literal URL to the page you want the reader to land on.  Write a “camouflaged” resource box (especially on EzineArticles) so the reader wouldn’t even know that he or she was reading the resource box thinking they were still on the article.  Over all, leading the reader to that darn sales page by writing fluffy content that was only meant to entice them almost in some kind of hypnotic way to your sales page.

Now, if you’d follow this recipe on any article directory, today, you wouldn’t even make it to ever be published at all, and if you were to persist long enough you’d probably be band for good from the directories you’re trying to post on.

Years of Trash Content Resulted in Google Slap

Such article marketing recipe sounded great for some and it works wonders for many, however, it didn’t last forever.  After all, bad quality never last, does it?

In 2010 Google started noticing that they were ranking an overwhelming amount of low quality contenr, and they decided that it was enough and started taking action.  They called this, Google slap, and slapped people in the face they certainly did.  EzineArticles and Squidoo were two mammoths that were so much affected that they had to take drastic measures to comply with Google new rules or else.

The real slap, however, was not so much on the directories in the end as much as it was on article marketers.  Bye-bye the 250-300 word articles, bye-bye the resource boxes above the fold, bye-bye the articles ridden with keywords and most of all bye-bye fluffy promotional articles.  This was quite a slap on the average article marketer back then, indeed.

I remember how mad and outraged some article marketers were, wondering what had happened.  On the other hand, even though I was also an article marketer myself, I was happy and relieved that after all this time Google and article directories were saying that articles online were not meant to just sell, but to inform and educate.  Yes, I was happy, because I have never liked to write promotional articles and never felt comfortable doing it even for myself or client either, unless I was writing a sales page.

Article Directories Rules Have Changed

Since Google slap, articles directories rules have changed greatly and the most notorious for this is Squidoo where even someone like me who has never really written any promotional articles have seen half of my Squidoo articles, called lenses, being blocked or deleted, and over a dozen of them have got from completed and published to uncompleted and unpublished according to their over the top strict rules.

However, at this point I am not going to worry about this.  I’ve backed up the ones I cared about for now and eventually I will delete all the ones they unpublished. Few months ago I’ve written a post about why it might not be to your best advantage to write on Squidoo.

EzineArticles, however, have changed a lot of their rules, but are more reasonable and easy to figure out than Squidoo is.

The main new rules of EzineArticles are the following:

  • Must be at least 400 words
  • Must not be Private Label Rights (PLR) articles
  • Must not be a press release, news article or time sensitive
  • Must not contain self-serving promotional content
  • Must not contain rehashed content
  • Must not have more than 2% keywords

According to their new rules, if you published a 400 word article which would be less than half this post ( I suggest you write a bit longer articles), you would be allowed about 4 keywords, which is plenty in my book.

How to Succeed with Article Directory Today?

Write the same type of articles that you would write on your blog.  Your articles should have moderate keywords, not be promotional, not copied in anyway, and not re-worded Private Label Rights.

Just like for a blog post, an article should not serve you, but your reader.  In the end if your serve your reader, you will serve yourself, anyway.

Just like on your blog, if you write articles that are not helpful, not interesting and only self-serving no one is going to be motivated to click on your links.  Anyone can use directories to create more backlinks and expand (I still do), but you need to do it the right way for it to work these days, and in my book it’s a positive thing.

So, over to you now. Do you write articles on directory to expand yourself online? Do tell us…


35 thoughts on “Article Marketing Then And Now What’s The Difference?”

  1. Hi Sylviane,

    Thanks for your informative post here Sylviane 🙂

    Well, I’ve never did article marketing and you know, my blog is to help folks out 🙂 I prefer having ’em all in my blog, so I can manage easily. But I had no much idea about it, so I find your post interesting to know something new dear. You know I appreciate your writing ’cause it’s easy to understand for me (Hopefully for everyone else).

    Though I just learned some more about it, I have a question for you 😀 lol… What kind of people really find article marketing really a helpful way to build the authority or backlinks dear? As I see, freelance writers 🙂 Anyone else?

    Have a wonderful week there dear 🙂

    Mayura invites you to read..Let Anyone Follow Your Social Updates on FacebookMy Profile

    1. Hi Mayura,

      Well, article marketing was and still is powerful to build backlinks, and generate traffic. Article marketing has been the ONLY traffic generation for many affiliate marketers I know personally and for me as well, in the past.

      However, this said, if you have a blog that ranks very well and already have a strong authority, you don’t need to rely so much on article marketing. It all depends on each individual situation. I still use article directories for backlinks, and more exposure, but not the extent I used to.

      I hope this answers your question and I’m glad my writing is easy to understand 🙂

  2. Yes, the old days resulted in all kinds of garbage “littering the internet”. Yet with all those google updates, high PR sites with 2 sentence “reviews” of a product can still outrank us!

    Such a shame that the big G hasn’t learned to recognize and rank good content without us spending all of our day trying to “promote” our site with social media (some of us geeks are not exactly social butterflies with thousands of online “friends”)

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    1. Hey PCRoger and nice seeing you here. I certainly remember you from my years a WA!

      I know what you mean and I agree. Google still has a lot to learn and that’s a shame, as you said, to see tinkgs like that still. Thanks for pointing that out!

  3. It’s funny but I never wrote an article like that because like you, I couldn’t understand why you would want to put something out there that was so short, and so generally useless with all those keywords stuffed in it. and like you said “if that’s what they want, that’s what you give them”. I, for one, am glad that Google got wise about that and started demoting those sites. As a searcher, I always avoided those sites like the plague because I knew they weren’t going to say anything useful.

    I also wonder, does submitting articles really help? I spend a lot of time and effort on my blog posts so if I’m going to “give” them to another site, it has to be worth it. You have much more experience than me with that. Plus I imagine you have to write a bunch – one article would probably not be very useful.
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    1. Hi Carol,

      I know it doesn’t make sense does it? Yes, so many article marketers would write such type of low quality articles. Now from the reader’s side that was pretty bad quality search result for sure.

      Now does article marketing help? Yes, and no. I still write some articles out there (maybe be an old habit :)), but it’s just like guest posting it may or may not bring you traffic, and like guest posting it works better if you do it regularly. But like I said to Mayura above, if your blog is way up there already, you might not need to bother with article marketing at all.

      Thanks for your feedbacks 🙂

  4. Hi Sylviane,

    I never wrote an article and have heard it was an incredible thing to do. But just never got around to do one.
    Reading this post I’m finding myself saying Yippie to Google. There is too much trash and spam out there. I know you are a professional writer plus an ethical one.
    I’m sure this slap made your day.
    As Google gets wiser, the honest and ethical people will rank high. Your it!
    Thanks for sharing this information because articles are always in back of my mind, but I just never took the plunge!

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    1. Hi Donna,

      When I was writing this post I was thinking that most of the people who comment on this blog are not necessarily concerned with article marketing, but then again I have a list of people who are and they are usually the ones who don’t necessarily comment, so I still decided to write it.

      In my case I stared writing articles before I ever owned a blog, so I kind of became a “pro” at it. But since I love to write, I hated to write promotional materials. So, yes, I was fine when article directories said “no more of that crap”, yet it made my day, Donna!

      Thank you for coming and reading this, even though you don’t write articles. Just for the fun of it, you should try one day 🙂

  5. Ooooh so that’s what happened uh? Actually when I was talk how to article write, it was something a little different. 400 words, 4 paragraphs, 8 keywords, headings with keywords in every sentence – I’ve since seen it done very differently (and this was not that long ago.) Thanks for the history Sylviane. I’ve never tired to write for Ezine or the other article marketing sites, and now I know why! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Now I’ve learned a little bit more on why things are the way they are.

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    1. Hi Barbara,

      As a matter of fact the problem was never with the directories but those who used them and took advantage of the slack they used to have. I don’t blame article directories for getting more strict and kicking the garbage out. I’ve written over 2000 articles on directories and they did serve me well. I just don’t use them as much anymore.

      Thanks for your input.

        1. Hi Barbara,

          It’s very easy to write for EzineArticles. All they want is a minimum of 400 word. Original non selling content that is meant to inform or educate the reader. Of course grammar and spelling error free as much as possible. That’s it. I know you can do it Barbara. But if you need more specific details let me know.

  6. I knew that after the Google slap that the article sites like EZine Articles were really going to have to buckle down Syliviane.

    It was really hard for me to write an article with less then 400 words. I don’t think I ever wrote any that short anyway which was why I was upset when all that happened because I did everything right anyway but still was slapped for it because of the sites they were on. It put a bad taste in my mouth because that was a heck of a lot of work on my part. I don’t have to tell you.

    I appreciate you taking the time to tell us what’s the right way to go about doing this now. I’ve often wondered about that. Thanks for clearing it up and as a writer, would you still say that article marketing is still a great source for traffic? Or perhaps should I say a great source for links!

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    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Well, to answer your question like I answered Mayura and Carol, I am not sure that I would say that articles on directories are bringing me a deluge of traffic, but I’ve made all my affiliate sales with them in the past and still do to some extent.

      But again, it’s kind of a hit and miss, just like guest blogging. Both of them I found work better when done on a constant and regular basis. If not, then the results are so, so.

      Thanks for your input and great question, Adrienne!

  7. Hi Sylviane,

    I really enjoyed reading this article. Soon after I started my blog, I considered article marketing. I set up an account in Ezine Articles, created an email folder, read through their tutorials and thought I would move full steam ahead. I remember the articles had to be short (less than 300 words) so I submitted a few. I didn’t feel comfortable with the style so I decided to move on and focus on my blog instead. As a newbie all I heard about was how backlinks can be generated by submitting articles and writing articles with stuffed keywords. At that time, I know that Squidoo was also a prominent directory. However both were being abused in the same way. I appreciate your explanation of the reasons why certain events took place at that time. What an incredible contrast in three years!

    I agree with you. I didn’t have a problem with the Google slap. I know some people were devastated, but it was the first step in the right direction to work towards eliminating trash information. Google did the right thing enforcing the Panda and Penguin changes because better quality content is rewarded with higher rankings.

    If the same rules applied today with Ezine Articles as in 2010, your post would be one third of the length with one third the value. There seems to always be two sides of every marketing method. The first group is the honest gang who wants to provide value to other people or their readers. The second group focuses on monetizing by attempting to get traffic any way they can, even if it is unethical. Those who stayed honest and true, as you have, will be rewarded and will have the last laugh.

    Raena Lynn
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    1. Thank you for your post, Raena 🙂 Just kidding, I mean as always you left a long juicy comment, and you know I love them.

      One thing I want to specify is that Ezine Article never put a limit on the length of an article and if there is I know it up to like 4.000 words. The ones that put a limit are the affiliate marketers themselves who never had any intention in giving value in their articles. Their only intent was sending that reader to their sales page. That’s why they came up with using the minimum word allowed by EZ which was then 250. They targeted 250-280, 300 words at the most. The stupid goal was staying above the fold. Now with the new rule of a minimum of 400 words, they can’t have their links above the fold anyway.

      Thanks for some great feedbacks, Raena.

  8. Hi Sylviane,

    I still can’t decide if Article marketing is worth it.

    Had one article in particular that was a hugh negative for me!
    Posted it on my site the day after getting approved by Ezine,
    but one of the major players picked it up and posted it (funny they removed my ezine link and left a link to my blogger blog!) and I disappeared from Google…
    No more page 1 #3
    Was on my Diabetes site, so very competitive.
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    1. Hi Cararta,

      So, let me see if I understand you well here.

      If you posted an article on your blog after it was posted on EZ, that’s NOT allowed and that’s called duplicate content. If and when EZ finds out they will probably remove your article. Now as a publisher, you can pick an article that’s on EZ and published it with ALL the links from the author and that’s another story. But most likely you wouldn’t do that for your own blog.

      Let me know if I didn’t understand you well, and thank you for coming and leaving your input.

    1. Hi Neamat,

      Yes, article marketing does give you more exposure that’s why I still used them to some extent, but if your time is limitted, always give priority to your blog. But again it doesn’t hurt to have some articles out there if you can 🙂

      Thanks for your feedbacks 🙂

  9. HI Sylviane

    Great post as always!
    I must admit that I tried that once because everyone was writing about it as it is use to get backlinks. After that I felt that I should focus on my blog only as it can be use to give better results in near future.

    Thanks for great knowledge shared.


    1. Hi Sapna,

      I don’t blame you to concentrate on your own blog, Sapna. If I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t have spent so much time on article directories. That’s why I slowed down tremendously. And also I don’t have the time anymore.

      Thanks for your feedback 🙂

  10. Hi Sylvianne,
    wow, those were the days!
    It is really a good thing that Google put an end to the self serving articles but so sorry for writers like yourself and Adrienne who also got punished indirectly.
    I have published some articles on Ezine and they I found them to be pretty strict, so I can’t imagine Squido’s rules.
    Thanks for sharing this very enjoyable read. I really enjoyed learning how it used to be before the slap.
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    1. Hi Tonya,

      For some reason I’ve never had any problem with EzineArticles after Google slap, but Squidoo that’s another story. They don’t even make any sense to me, and the worst part of all is that there is not trying to reason with them either. So the heck with them!

      Recently they have unpublished some travel lenses that I had with them for years now, so I took them out completely, will rework them and post that content on my own travel blog. At least there my hard work won’t be in vain.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Tonya 🙂

  11. Hi Sylviane

    I have never done article marketing and never really had any inclination. I did not come online until 2010 and I found it hard enough blogging!

    Thanks for the history as I do hear people talking about it and now it all makes sense to me.

    As a professional writer I am sure you were happy with the changes.

    Thanks Sylviane.

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    1. Hi Sue,

      In my case, as I was mentioning to someone else’s comment above, I started writing article before I ever owned a blog. Article directories were my first writing platforms online, ever, as a matter of fact.

      I was happy of the change so clients could STOP asking me to put some 10 keyword phrases in a short article which is way to much and not always easy to do for the natural flow of the article. Yes, I loved that change.

      Thank for your input, Sue 🙂

    1. Hi Robin,

      Yes, I realize that there are quite a few bloggers who still don’t know about article marketing. The truth is that article marketing is not as big as it used to be though.

      I’m glad you’ve learned something, though.

      Thanks for coming

  12. Hi Sylviane,
    Things are really changing rapidly this days just as you said here, but the best thing is for us to keep adapting to it.

    However, I use to publish on ezinearticles too when i started blogging, but as time goes by, i stopped because it was as if i wasn’t getting any reasonable result from it.

    Change is very constant my dear.

    Thanks for sharing.
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    1. Hi Theodore,

      Yes, things change faster online than anywhere and what works one day is obsolete the next.

      I totally understand what you mean. In order to see any results with article marketing you have to write daily. At least for a while. It’s a lot of work and effort, so you might as well put such work and effort on your blog.

      Thanks for your visit.

  13. I remember writing a 250-word article with around 20 keywords on it. I really complained to my client and said I just can’t do it. The article would really sound so awful with this requirement. Good thing, gone are those days.
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    1. Hi Lisa,

      I know what you mean. Article marketing takes lots of time and there are some things that are more important result wise than article marketing. Blogging is definitely one of them.

      Thanks for your feedbacks.

  14. It is funny how people don’t want to put in the real work behind writing an article. Sounds like it was too easy to slap up an article for the hell of it to get higher rankings with no real depth behind the post itself. I didn’t know that Ezine articles were doing that as I wrote a piece for them myself. All I can remember was how many times I had to re-edit my article to get it right and approved. No matter at least I felt my article added value. I never thought about the Keyword stuff and just wrote information I wanted to share with others. Maybe now people will write like the are suppose to and add content that really has meaning.
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