Why adding a ton of new articles to your website is usually a bad idea.

by Nick Usborne on May 31, 2010

Why would I make such a claim?

After all, the writing of articles is the cornerstone of many people’s content creation strategy.

This strategy even has a name – article marketing.

Article marketing is popular for a number of reasons:

1. You can optimize each article for a particular keyword and draw traffic to your site via the search engines.

2. Getting articles written gets cheaper by the day. You can outsource your article writing overseas and get a 400-word article $3 or less. If you want to raise the bar a little, you can get decent articles written for under $10 each.

3. Adding dozens and then hundreds of articles to your website not only attracts traffic, but gives you an opportunity to create internal links to your most important pages.

What’s the problem then?

The problem is these articles are mostly of mediocre quality. And when I say that, I’m being generous.

Here is the real problem.

Getting articles written is too easy, and too inexpensive.

You just print out a list of 500 keywords you would like to be ranked for, and then submit them to overseas writers who are happy to write them for a few dollars each.

Now you have 500 new web pages.

Now think in terms of 100,000 site owners doing the same thing.

That’s 50 million pages.

No disrespect to the writers, but these are not good pages. The website owners don’t ask for great articles. They just want articles that will persuade the search engines that their new pages are a good match for certain search queries.

Think about why this happens. The site owner identifies a keyword or phrase. He then briefs the writer to write 350-400 words on that topic. The writer does as he or she is asked.

The key part of the briefing request is this, “Please write a short article optimized for this phrase.”

What the site owner doesn’t say to the writer is, “Please write an article that will be immensely and immediately useful to my readers.”

Big difference.

Now for the next step.

As millions of these low-quality pages are uploaded to the web, more and more searchers are clicking on search results and being disappointed by what they find.

People are finding these pages, feeling cheated and building an aversion to all future pages they see which seem to be of the same ilk.

The flood of these highly optimized but low quality content pages is probably one of the reasons behind Google’s recent algorithmic “Mayday” update. It appears they are trying to penalize long tail pages which appear relevant, but also seem to be of low value.

In the words of Googler Matt Cutts, ”This is an algorithmic change in Google, looking for higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries. It went through vigorous testing and isn’t going to be rolled back.”

If the writing of bulk articles isn’t the way forward, what can you do?

Here are a few suggestions, some of which are related.

1. Write fewer articles of much higher quality. Aim to delight and amaze your readers, instead of trying to game the search engines.

2. Focus less on the article format, and create more pages which are guides, resource lists, “best of” lists and so on. In other words, don’t make every page look like just another article.

3. Mix up your media. It doesn’t have to be just about text. Add images, audio, video and slideshows.

4. Create content worth sharing. If you upload one tenth the number of articles, but each is ten times more likely to be shared via Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, you getting the same number of readers – but you’ll be impressing your visitors instead of boring them.

5. Focus on establishing your site as an authority site. That’s what Google looks for. Cut back the mediocre content. Create better content and make it good enough to be linked to by websites with greater authority than yours.

Concluding thoughts…

Writing articles for your website is not a bad idea per se. But uploading poor quality articles to your site is.

If article marketing is to survive and prosper, the focus needs to be on making sure that every article is a really good article.

And now for the good news.

99.99% of article marketers will never read this article. Nor will they bother to find out about Google’s Mayday update.

This means you have an opportunity to win big.

Just focus on what your readers really want, and deliver quality in spades.

[NOTE: If you enjoyed this article, you’ll doubtless enjoy the daily content ideas I publish for Web Content Café members. Learn more about membership here...]

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