Article Directories are far from dead. There is a lot of linking going on.
The trick is to work out how to automate their submissions so we can give them what they want (content for their advertising) and we can then get what we want (backlinks from authoritative sites.
We've been over the fact that they all want original content. And you have to spin everything you give them in order to make it so. Posting individual content to each of hundreds of article directories (AD's) would take a month or so.
And it already takes hours to get a decently spun article. (You have to spin articles by hand - never, never, never use any sort of auto-spin program - there are none out there which work, period. Been there, tried that.)
If you recall from that last time I told you about this area, I referenced pages 254-257 of The Online Sunshine Plan.
In that section, I recommended a spreadsheet-based spinning tool called Article Re-Writer. (It's linked as a download - right-click and Save As.)
I've worked quite a bit with that program and sorted it out to some simplicities. What this had as it's best feature is that you had three (or four) alternate sentences which were chosen at random. Most article spinners simply change synonyms, which too often will make your sentence into complicated nonsense.
Google is all over synonyms, since this is what they show you when you are looking for keywords. So don't think they can't spot that with their algorithms. But the more important feature is that people won't stick around and view your page - which means Google will devalue it. Of course, you may only be looking for cheap backlinks, but let's be real. Tons of low-quality backlinks will not give you any authority and you will just be hurting your own main site rankings.
The reports I've seen say you have to be from 40% to 70% original. Which means you are re-writing the bulk of every version. Article Re-Writer makes that a lot simpler.
When you change out sentences, you can change grammar structure (active to passive or vice-versa) plus all sorts of Modern American English sentence forms like "Expressed Thought". No kidding. You think? Well, I'll be.
Article spinners can't and won't handle creating quality content at least as good as your original.
I've even found that changing whole paragraphs works. This is better, since you can change things around quite a bit. Often a paragraph consists of three sentences, which can be in at least three different positions without changing the meaning of the paragraph. So if you had A-B-C, then C-B-A, then B-A-C - you would still make the same point, but these different positions won't be duplicate content.
Best I've found is to simply write the article and then go down it, paragraph by paragraph, making two alternate paragraphs each time.
Sure, it's a lot of work. But there are a near infinite amount of varieties this way. The original author of the spreadsheet said there was something over 10,000 unique versions. And you'll run out of possible article directories before that time.
Next point to solve is the one of submitting your spun articles.
The top 10 I still recommend doing by hand. Plug your spun paragraphs into that spreadsheet and hit refresh (see instructions) to give you another version. You have to use Excel or Open Office Calc - any real spread sheet program. Google Docs (now Google Drive) doesn't do random functions.
But how to do the rest of those article directories? There is only one product I've found worth mentioning. And, to be honest, I've only scratched the surface of it (remember that I've not though article directory posting was worth my time up to now...) It's called Article Demon.
The features are that is has long lists of article directories you can load and it will then go even register you with them, and has a place to spin articles (or you can - and should - simply plug in your own spun-by-paragraph articles as above) and it will submit your articles on a schedule, with delays - so they look more natural.
And as far as I can see, it does a very good job of being able to post articles and take the load off your time. It's also a one-time purchase (right now under a hundred bucks) and is being pretty well supported, having come out with a new version just recently which was offered as a free download for existing clients. (At the time I'm writing this, I'm waiting for the download to complete so I can check it out newly.)
One of the best parts is that it allows you to spin the titles, tags, and even the biography. So they are truly unique across the various AD's.
But that is the general theory of how I would consider utilizing all those article directories out there.
The advantage of spinning your content is that you can have original content which will rank on it's own. And I've said that there are programs and plugins (I've used ScribeFire with success on both Firefox and Chrome) to remote post your blogs. The tip here is to create the text with html code, so you can also include images, then generate variations with the code included - and then insert it as html instead of text. Trickier, but once you get the hang of it - and use a WYSIWYG editor like Kompozer - it's pretty simple work. Longer than Posterous, but if you intend to post to Article Directories, it's a simpler approach. I'll leave you to work out the production sequence and flow, though.
I get results without article directories, but if you've been already submitting to AD's, this would be a way to improve your work flow.
Flash Update: Just found this page from the folks at Market Samurai who are developing what they call "Article Samurai" - and I found a description of how it works (as linked.) Of course, you can see the similarity to what we've already discussed...
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Update: Recent research and practice down this line shows that really only EzineArticles is potentially worth anything. Looking up Warrior's forum showed that you don't have to spin content, but the backlinks from these sites aren't worth all that much. One author was telling me the backlinks helped to out-rank the competition, but you can do better with a mini-net distribution and social signals such as Onlywire and Synnd.
The other point brought up on that Forum was to remember why Article Dirs exist - to help people republish your content. EzineArticles has survived the Panda/Penguin updates well and has been known to drive some traffic. It's also not bad to have additional links back to your landing pages from them.
But skipping the Article Directories entirely is OK, too. Synnd is developing their own article directory publishing - but it will need spun content, so you are back to burning time manually spinning your content to make it into quality work.
Fastest is to post on your blog to begin with and then re-publish to remote blogs as you go. Always bookmark and also do the "super-spindle" strategy Synnd recommends for really effective social signal utilization.
So forget "Article Demon" as it's not needed. And
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I've included another freebie today - an interview with Dan Swanson, who has spent his time writing articles and tells an overview of their benefits.