The Risks of Article
by Steve Weber
An increasingly popular way
to get exposure for a book is by contributing to online article banks. One of
the most popular, EzineArticles.com, has more than 40,000 participating
authors. If it accepts your article, it will feature the piece at the
EzineArticles.com site and make it available for reuse by other Web sites,
blogs, and email newsletters, along with a “resource box” that has links back
to your site.
Contributors aren’t paid, but they
figure the added exposure is worth the effort. And it’s true that article
syndication can provide great exposure, but you should be selective about the
content you contribute.
Don’t offer any content that
appears on your site without first rewriting it. Search engines such as Google
constantly filter out “duplicate content” from search results. If an article
from your site appears elsewhere on the Internet, one of the Web pages that
offers it will probably be deleted from search results, and chances are that one
will be yours. Search-engine experts call this the duplicate-content penalty.
The Dangers of Duplicate
Here’s how syndicating an article
to promote a book can backfire.
Let’s imagine you’ve published a
book about pottery, and you publish a pottery blog to promote it. Last year on
your blog, you wrote a nifty tutorial on fixing broken pottery. Word has gotten
around, and now every pottery site on the Internet links to your pottery-repair
page. Because of all these links, your page is the top Google result for
“repairing pottery,” “fixing pottery,” and several related queries. That single
page is your Web site’s crown jewel, accounting for half your new visitors and
a good portion of the pottery book’s sales.
Now let’s imagine you try to
squeeze even more traffic from your pottery-repair article. You post it to
EzineArticles.com, without changing much, except that you add links back to
your site. Meanwhile, you upload the same article to other syndication sites
like GoArticles.com and IdeaMarketers.com.
Then you sit back and wait for the
extra traffic. But what you see is the exact opposite—less traffic, not
more. Since your article now appears on at least one bigger, more popular site,
it’s likely that Google will send searchers there instead of sending them to
your site. Google has made a quick calculation of which site is more
authoritative, and because EzineArticles.com has more links than your site, it
wins. Google doesn’t care that you wrote the article and have the Internet’s
best pottery site.
Keep Your Visitors Coming
The lesson is, keep your most
valuable content on your site exclusively. And if you’re going to syndicate
existing content, change it substantially.
Google’s Adam Lasnik, the
company’s “search evangelist,” offers two tips for avoiding the
· If you syndicate an article
containing the same language as content on your site, or language that’s very
similar, make sure the article includes a link back to the original version on
your site. Don’t include only a link to your home page or some other page.
· Minimize boilerplate language in
all your content. For example, instead of repeating lengthy copyright notices
at the bottom of all your Web pages, include a brief summary with a link to a
page containing your full copyright notice.
No safeguard is foolproof,
however. The only sure way to avoid the duplicate-content penalty is by
syndicating original material only, and keeping your best material exclusive to
Steve Weber is the author
of Plug Your Book! Online
Book Marketing for Authors (2007, Weber Books). For more
information, visit www.PlugYourBook.com.