Outsourcing basic tasks is a great way for a hobby blogger to increase productivity. If you are a one-man-band then there is only so much work that you are going to be able to do, and if you are working full time and running family then progress is always going to be slow.
As part of my link building strategy I have decided to try one of the many 3rd party marketing services to try and get one of my sites a wider audience across the Internet.
The service I am going to trial and review is SubmitEdge.
SubmitEdge Article Submission
My first trial is to use the Article Submission service. I have just purchased the $30 deal which promises to deliver a “professionally written” article and post it to ten article sites.
The promising thing about SubmitEdge is that they have a wide range of prices points allowing hobbyists to purchase basic services. I find that many SEO companies are geared towards large scale commercial outfits which is no when your nudget barely stretches to double figures!
I have picked a relatively new site which I have been working on for a few months now. I have got dozens of well written original content articles published on the site, but according to Google Analytics traffic numbers are low. There is really only the usual background noise amounting to perhaps 50 visits per month.
This should make it fairly straight forward to spot any uplift in traffic resulting from improved search engine rankings. My plan is to try a number of the SubmitEdge services to see what kind of uplift I get.
I don’t expect to get to a #1 position! Or even a top 10 slot for the many competitive keywords I’m chasing right now, but I do expect to see some kind of increase in traffic numbers.
The Article Submission Service
You can read through the details on the SubmitEdge website, they give a fairly comprehensive run down of what’s going to happen. But briefly, the idea is they knock up a 500 word article for you on a subject of your choice using specified keywords, this is then submitted to a number of article sites depending on which level of service you order.
The whole process is simple enough and if you get stuck there are some videos on the site to hold your hand through the form entry.
I have to make it quite clear that this little experiment is very unscientific. If the results are poor it could be a reflection on the quality of my website, if results are good it could be due to other promotional activity that I am doing alongside.
But for the purpose of this post I will make the realistic assumption that my site is decent and I will limit my own link building activity, in fact there are no external links to this new site as far as I am aware.
So how Effective has Article Marketing been?
Article Quality: OK, let’s start by setting expectations. Made for marketing SEO articles ordered cheaply off the Internet are never going to be high quality publishable articles. For that you are going to have to hire a professional writer and pay professional rates.
So what I am looking for is something that makes sense, is on topic and contains the relevant keywords. I should also make it clear that I did not give a huge amount of direction to the author, I simply requested that they wrote an article on the broad topic of buying birthday presents.
So how good was the article? The message and content actually seemed better than expected, and although the spelling was perfect (spell check?) unfortunately the quality of English was dissapointing.
I’ll pick out a couple of examples:
This means that you need to decide on the birthday gifts so that the moment becomes a special for them.
If you are a guy, you should worry your lady with such downright funny gifts
So on the whole, the article comes across as a “written for SEO” affair. I am not annoyed by this as it was always a possibility and I was prepared to take the risk to see what the service is like. The good news is that if you are just interested in the submission aspect of this deal, you can supply your own article for them to submit on your behalf. However, this does appear to be at the same price which is a shame.
So the question is, what will Google make of the article quality? For SEO purposes perhaps it doesn’t matter that the English quality is poor, after all, it is probably better than Google’s algorithm’s ability to understand it! For now at least. But whenever I see something created for SEO sake I do start to doubt its effectiveness.
It is possible to both build links for SEO purposes and add value to the Internet. I’m not sure this is happening here. Still, if we get an uplift in traffic, the experiment can still be deemed a success.
New Back Links: It’s not hard to track down the new links that have been created as a result of the article submission, I just did a search for a distinctive phrase seen in the article and Google listed them out.
You also get a comprehensive report from SubmitEdge that lists out all the sites that they have sent the article to, including the email address, user name and password used – perhaps useful if you wanted to make any changes yourself. The report also lists out the PageRank of each article site if you are interested in that kind of thing.
Some of the more well known sites submitted to include:
There are a large number of smaller less well known sites too, but either way, we are now looking at a load of new back links that we didn’t have before.
But what difference, if any, did the article submissions make?
Traffic Uplift: And this is where it really gets interesting. To be honest I’m not too bothered about the quality of the article and which sites they submit to as long as I see some kind of results.
I should of course note:
- It is impossible to fairly attribute any change in ranking to specific links.
- The quality of my site is also significant.
- We don’t know how long it takes for Google to pick up on these links and take them into account
But my site currently has no back links and I believe it is good quality. There are almost 50 or so unique and well targeted articles that are more than just meaningless waffle. In fact my site had way more information than many similar successful sites in the niche.
So here are the results from Google Analytics:
At the time of writing I have only a couple of weeks worth of data, so it will be interesting to see what long term benefits there might be, but sure enough Google Analyics does indicate a small increase in my traffic volume. What’s more these visits are all coming via Google from people searching with highly relevant terms.
Perhaps unsurprisingly I have not had a single visitor arriving through one of these newly created links. This goes to show that these article marketing sites aren’t really a great source of visitors themselves and the published article isn’t really grabbing anyone’s attention.
My expectations for a $30 service were low to begin with, like most things in life you get what you pay for. I have no complaints about how SubmitEdge operated, they kept me informed of progress, results were presented clearly and they delivered as promised.
The difference in traffic volume after the article was submitted was noticeable, but it hardly set my site ablaze with new visits. I would say that it is likely the uplift is only visible because this test site was so new.
Would I recommend you purchase this service? I think that if you have a new site and want to get it noticed by Google, then yes I would – this is a small price to pay to get your first visits.
If you run a competitive established site I can’t help but wonder if the quality of the article submission and the sites they appear on won’t be enough to make a real difference to your rankings. For that I think you will have to look at one of the more expensive services.
My next plan is to try one of the more comprehensive link building services. I’m going to spend a few hundred pounds to get some solid link building done, but before going ahead I need to get more content onto the site. I need some great pages to link to!
But by going for one of the more significant deals I should expect to see a much bigger variation in traffic. I am looking to see if SumbitEdge can really deliver on their promises.
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