The Real Deal on Link Building

link-buildingDirectory Submissions & Article Marketing

Directory submissions and article marketing are touted as two of the top ways to develop a slew of links, raise your traffic and get those conversions. Many who pick up knowledge of SEO around the Net jump on directory submissions because it sounds like an easy form of SEO.

It is, but it’s also time consuming, and the same can be said for article marketing. In fact, if you’re doing your own website SEO with these two tactics and it’s not taking a long time, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Article Marketing

Article marketing works something like this:

  1. You write an article (or two, or three) on your chosen topic.
  2. You submit this article to an article site, such as
  3. People find this article through keyword search and read it.
  4. People then follow the link back to your site.

It sounds easy, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

Many beginning Do-It-Yourselfers (and SEOs, for that matter), use one article and submit it to several sites. Others take an article already on their website and submit it. The problem with these two methods is duplicate content.

A lot of article sites will now deny an article once it’s been posted elsewhere. Those that don’t (with some exceptions) are probably not worth your time anyway. The second method generally ends up with the article site ranking for your article and keyword, rather than your website. Leave the articles on your website where they’ll do the most good by increasing the amount of information available to your visitors.

Briefly, let’s also touch on article marketing software. The sales hype for this software says you can submit 100s of articles to over 50 different sites in a short amount of time. It’s true; you can. However, there is no specific way to submit an article that crosses all article sites. Some require a little bit of coding knowledge to get the article looking right, such as paragraph and heading marks. Because of this, you have no idea what the article will look like until it’s live. Often, it’s an absolute mess.

Article Marketing The Right Way

If you’re going to spend the time, you might as well do it right, right?

  1. Selectively choose ten article sites that look like they might get high traffic.
  2. Write an article on your chosen topic for each site.
  3. Submit one article per site, with a call to action in the bio box.
  4. Watch your traffic statistics over the next month or so to see which sites bring you the most traffic.

a) If none bring you traffic, build another list of ten.

b) If you get traffic, narrow the list down to the top five traffic providers.

While watching your traffic…
Instead of waiting to gather information, go ahead and write another ten articles, as well as build your second list of chosen sites. This way, you’ll be ready for either eventuality. If you have five sites that bring you good traffic numbers, submit two articles to each of the five and so on. It may take you a few tries to get that top five, but your traffic will rise once you get them. The rest is then up to your website, content and product/services.

Directory Submissions

Directory submissions work something like this:

  1. Submit your website to a directory with key terms
  2. People find your link with said key terms
  3. Traffic comes to your site.

Again, it’s a little more complicated than that.

With any directory submission, there are two key points to remember: themed directories and Page Rank. Now, Page Rank doesn’t seem to mean much anymore, but a directory with a strong PR provides better basis for link building than one without.

As with article submissions, let’s touch on submission software. Submission software works like so:

  1. You get (or choose) a list of directories
  2. You put in your meta information (URL, page title, keywords, description)
  3. You push enter, start or go

Yes, it’s easy. However, you aren’t just looking for links. You’re looking for quality links. Directory submission software does not distinguish between the two.

Directory Submissions, The Right Way

When submitting to directories for link building purposes, go to directories that have a PR of 3 or above. You can use a program like SEO Quake (plug in for Mozilla Firefox) to get an idea of the PageRank. Now, here’s the catch. Find the most relevant area for your services and check the PR.

See, most directories will have a PageRank of 3 or above on the home page, unless they’re a new directory. What many don’t have, however, is any kind of PR on the pages where your actual link will be, and that’s what you need. Why is this so important if PR doesn’t matter anymore? Because it’s still positive link juice.

Added Jan, 6, 2010: We came across a wonderful blog post at the DailySEOTip with an explanation of how PageRank works when pointed at your website. The information is a great addendum to our own post, and one we strongly encourage you to read!

The largest part of SEO is finding relevance: relevance in content and relevance in linking sites. Keep your directory submissions as relevant to your site as possible. Instead of a section called “Business”, delve down until you find something that matches your services or products, such as “Category: Business, Sub-category: Internet, Sub-category: Website Design”.

A final note on directory submissions: the number of directories with a PR on interior pages is relatively low unless you pay for it. Set a reasonable budget to put into your link building. Some sites may cost $2.00 for submissions while places like Yahoo! Directory costs around $300.00. If you’re careful about the places you approach, however, the results – in traffic – are well worth the cost.

Added March, 10, 2010: What are some effective techniques for building links? By Matt Cutts

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This account is where everyone involved with Level343 content marketing efforts show up. You can say there is no "I" in this team. Sometimes we will chat about a certain topic with a variation of ideas, suggestions, even opinions. Then one of us will start writing the post, hand it over to someone else who will continue the diatribe. Eventually it ends up on our editors desk who either chops the hell out of it, or you're reading it right now.


  1. Thanks Shefali, I have been trying to figure out what the readers want. It seems information and direct links are a favorite.

  2. Shefali Nagdev says:

    Thank you for this very informative post Gabriella. Often newbies have a number of questions in regards to article marketing and directory submissions, and this write-up that you’ve uploaded here will surely help them out. Interesting write-up indeed!!!

  3. web Hosting says:

    Maybe, you should do some SEO stuff on the keywords of your content. Promote the keywords and exchange links with relevant websites.

  4. Excellent advice. I am currently new to the article marketing scene and I have made some of the common mistakes (ie 2 articles for 10 sites) you pointed out. I appreciate the tips, thanks again for the great information.

  5. Another excellent point. Although article marketing is often thought of in terms of links, it’s a great method of reputation enhancement and a way to build your authority. This is one of the reasons that we discourage article spinning. By building up a few places with excellent, informational articles on your topic, you’re establishing yourself as an industry expert, as you said. The potential for building your reputation and authority through article marketing is, I feel, much higher than for link building. It’s a “pick your strategy” kind of thing. Are you trying to build yourself up AND get traffic, or just get traffic?

    Thanks for the helpful comment!

  6. I do think that article marketing is quite valuable in the sense that apart from doing it for the sake of link building, if you are writing good articles frequently enough, it also helps to establish yourself as the industry expert – good for branding purpose.

  7. Hey Art, I don’t know I am just not impressed by any of the article spinners I have seen or used. I rather do them manually and pay more than to chance the article’s integrity. But, that is not to say you haven’t found the holy grail…lol thanks for sharing

  8. Excellent point, and a very important point, thanks for bringing that to our readers attention.

  9. I would also make a note of varying the anchor texts when making directory submissions. If you keep your anchor text the same, search engines may think of the links as spam. Same thing applies with submitting your site to too many directories at once. SEs may think of these links as spam, because they have been created so rapidly.

    The automated submissions are the worst, because they use the same anchor text and you get a lot of back links in a small time.

  10. Art Gallery Edinburgh says:

    I'm currently trialing a piece of software which submits articles to a claimed over 700 article sites, so far i've seen it submit about 47 which all have between PR0-2. Considering I didn't pay for it, it's actually OK.

    The best part is that it spins the article and it always comes out as a well written piece but a unique article for each site.


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