If you want to write a book, one of the best ways to start is by writing articles and submitting them to online article directories. Not only do you build some momentum in terms of writing your book, you can test how people respond to your ideas. Also, if you have a website, you can begin to attract visitors who want to know more about what you have to say.
Article syndication, which is what this process is called, has been a key way for me to get traffic to my site. In the process of learning how to use articles most effectively, I discovered there is a potential trap to avoid. If you fall into this trap, your website could fall lower in the search engines than you would want. The trap is called "duplicate content."
The Controversy Over Duplicate Content
There's actually some controversy and lots of confusion over this whole issue, so I did some research (with the help of some readers of my blog). The controversy is over whether your website would somehow be penalized by the search engines if you have the same content on your site as there is on lots of other sites that pick up your article. People were saying that Google would give you a lower page rank for duplicate content. Others were saying it was all hogwash.
The truth seems to be that Google is in fact concerned about duplicate content. Their complex algorithms search for relevancy. They will list first the content they feel is most relevant to the search for a particular keyword or phrase. That means if your article appears on someone else's website and seems more relevant to Google, it will list it higher than that same article that's on your site.
The Word from Google
Here's what Google says about syndication:
"If you syndicate your content on other sites, make sure they include a link back to the original article on each syndicated article. Even with that, note that we'll always show the (unblocked) version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you'd prefer."
(For a more in-depth discussion of this, read my blog post, which also contains links to the Official Google Web master Central Blog and a thread with a lot of questions and answers about various issues.)
The bottom line seems to be that Google doesn't apply a penalty so much as they filter and decide which one will be the article/site they choose to list highest. Of course, you want them to list your site highest, not someone else's.
How to Keep Your Search Engine Rank High
Here's what I do to deal with this issue and help rather than hurt my search engine ranking:
- I only have the full article on my site once instead of in the newsletter archive page and a separate article page
- The article on my site is at least 20 percent different from what I submit to the article directories. Usually this means the headline and lead, the most important parts of the article anyway.
- Before submitting an article to the ezine directories, I make sure the article on my site is first indexed by the search engines. This is easy to do: Simply paste the entire page url, in quotes, into the major search engine windows. (For example, I would put "http://www.yoursitename.com/nameofpage.html" into Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc.). In a few days, I'll check the search engines by putting the article title into the search engine search box (in quotes so it searches for the exact title). If it shows up from my site, then I'm ready to syndicate the article.
Further Resources …
If you are interested in learning more about the ins and outs of Internet article writing, submision, and marketing, the real expert is Jeff Herring, "the Internet Article Guy." Jeff offers lots of free teleseminars with great content, but he's also about to start a four-week training module that will go in-depth into article writing, article submission, article marketing, and article income and product creation. Jeff will show you how to create a whole business from writing articles on your area of expertise. Find out more about his free preview call by clicking here.