(Edited as of February 26th, 2011: this strategy is now obsolete. Ezinearticles was hit hard by Google’s algorithm update. They’ve responded by nofollowing many links. The content below should thus be considered interesting only from a historical perspective. It was a fun way to arbitrage Google’s algorithm, but that’s over.)
Ezinearticles.com is a mystery. The site isn’t pretty. I don’t know anybody who goes there to get good information. I don’t know anyone who writes there because they have a burning desire to share information. There are only two things that matter about ezinearticles.com:
- They let you post articles on basically any topic you want, with exactly one non-nofollowed link.
- Google loves them.
And here’s why you should love them, too.
The basics of Ezinearticles are very basic, indeed. The site lets anyone write an article on any of a couple hundred topics (from Accounting to Yoga), which they will post on the site. They give a long list of rules, but it boils down to this:
- Your article can have a link in the body, and a link in the author bio. The link in the body won’t pass any value from the search engine’s perspective.
- You can’t post affiliate links—if you get money directly from someone clicking on your link, it’s out.
- Your article can’t be directly plagiarized, should have something to do with the title, and should be written in something approaching standard English.
With practice, you can write an Ezinearticles piece on any topic in about an hour. You can write approximately the same piece, on approximately the same topic, in another twenty minutes. (Once you’ve written your article on “Cheap Web Hosting,” it gets easier to crank out a piece about “Affordable Web Hosting,” “Cheap Website Hosting,” “Affordable Website Hosts,” etc.)
How Using Ezinearticles Helps You
Once you post your article, you get three valuable things:
You’re getting a boost to your rankings. Those articles don’t carry a lot of weight, but they do carry some weight. As long as your site’s reasonably popular, and the keyword you’re targeting is fairly obscure, the combination of a subject-specific landing page and a couple ezinearticles pieces should land you on page one of Google.
You’ll also earn a steady stream of visitors. I have some articles on ezine that don’t get more than a visitor or two a month. I have some articles that get fifty readers per week. These people almost always find the articles through Google (where they often rank in the first page or two for the exact term). The number of visitors who click the link also varies, from about 10% to over 50%.
You can experiment with different pitches. Go back to the web hosting example. Let’s say you’re wondering whether the feature-list, the soft-sell, or the aggressive bluster method will work best. Why not try one article with each, and see which gets more clicks?
Here’s how I structure my articles on ezinearticles:
- The ezinearticles headline should lead with your keyword, as often as possible. Even if you have to really torture the words to get them in the right order—do it! “2006 Tax Forms – IRS Documents Come in Handy” did me more favors than the grammatically correct “2006 Tax Forms and Other Documents the IRS Uses,” when I optimized for [2006 tax forms irs documents].
- The ezinearticles summary should use your keyword at least once. This snippet shows up in a couple places around the site, and you don’t want to miss the chance. Other than that, it should raise more questions than it answers, without seeming like useless fluff.
- The ezinearticles article itself is where you can really go to town. You’ll want to throw in mentions of your keyword, and possibly related terms, but the main ideas are: make sure your readers keep on reading, but make sure that by the time they’re done, if they’re potential customers, they’ll click your link. When I’m writing an article pitching a client’s service, for example, I’ll go into detail on how to do it yourself—then add that it’s generally safer and often cheaper to go with a pro. (That’s my strategy with this blog, too!)
- The ezinearticles resource box should be a throwaway author bio—but it isn’t. Thanks to a strange policy choice, ezinearticles.com tells Google to ignore links in the body of an article, but to give them full credit if they show up in the resource box. I recommend a bio like this: Byrne Hobart writes about a variety of topics, including Syrian mythology, simian physiognomy, and SEO Copywriting. It’s pretty hard to write something sensible, but by this point your reader should be 1) pretty sure that you know what you’re talking about, but 2) pretty sure that you’re going to talk about it in more useful detail on the site you linked, not the ezinearticles piece you wrote to promote it.
Ezinearticles.com appeals to a particular segment of the market. To some people, the site design screams “unprofessional!” So there’s a decent chance that by posting on ezinearticles.com, you’ll rule yourself out for some possible visitors. And if you’re trying to look like your site bubbled up to #1 on Google naturally, posting on ezinearticles.com is a good way to avoid that.
At the same time, ezinearticles.com can be an incredible time sink. It’s easy to think that you’re making incremental progress if you write ten articles a day about your favorite long-tail keywords. But if those keywords don’t covert (and you don’t find out until months after the fact) that effort is wasted. For an SEO on a budget, throwing hours at a campaign is as dangerous as throwing money at it.
Optimizing Your Site for Ezinearticles
To get the most out of ezinearticles, you can start thinking about how you’d use the site before you actually write any of the content you’ll be linking to. Returning once more to the web hosting example, it would be good to include each unique keyword in a subheading, bolded-or-italicized section, or bullet point. (As you might have guessed by now, this article itself could be worthy of about a dozen ezinearticles links.)
But while you’re optimizing your site, keep in mind the Only Two SEO Guidelines You’ll ever need. When you do SEO:
- Always optimize for the optimal search engine—the one that knows the difference between “furniture polish” and “polish furniture,” between an editorial link and a spam comment, and between a legitimate endorsement and a paid promotion. When in doubt, optimize optimistically.