Last Thursday, Google published a blog post which warned about the use (or rather, misuse) of links in large-scale article campaigns.
This is particularly true when Google perceives that you are publishing articles purely in order to manipulate ranking positions, especially when the articles are thin on content and packed with spammy links that use an excessive amount of highly similar keywords pointing to the same site or page.
So how do you use an article to your advantage and which SEO techniques should you avoid using if you want to steer clear of a ranking penalty?
Firstly, as previously mentioned, try to avoid stuffing your article with keyword-rich links and always ensure that the content itself is a valuable read for your target audience. If you are outsourcing article creation, always hire a writer who knows what they are talking about and has previous experience where the chosen topic is concerned.
Secondly, if you have a large number of articles that contain duplicate text then this will also trigger alarm bells when the search algorithms are crawling and caching your text. You should always make sure that your articles are uniquely written, informative and only contain one or two relevant links that point to your site.
Finally, if there are multiple versions of your site, (for example, if you have just switched from HTTP to HTTPS) then always make use of the rel=”canonical” and rel=”nofollow” meta tags, so that the search engines know that your content is repeated for a reason. This will also pass on the link juice from the older versions of your site to the new version.
If you are managing an SEO campaign and you intend to use blogs, articles and guest posts as a means of attracting visitors and increasing your page rank through external linking, always concentrate on the content itself rather than the links.
These days, it is not enough to just spin the same article a dozen times or more and cram it with keywords that you feel you might benefit from. In fact, if you do go down this path in an attempt to gain more visitors and increase your search positions, you will typically find that your efforts will only have the reverse effect.