How to best leverage your articles for SEO (even if you wrote them for someone else)

March 9, 2010 •

A Twitter friend emailed me yesterday with a question about how best to leverage her wealth of articles, some of which she’d written for clients. My answer turned into something of an essay, so I thought I might publish it as a blog post, so others might benefit from it too.

The question

“I’ve built up a load of articles written for my clients on the topic of wellbeing, a few magazine articles I’ve written on the same topic, and a smattering of assorted articles on a whole bunch of topics. I would like to submit these to article submission sites such as Ezine Articles.

I’m unsure how much editing I should do on them to avoid search engine black-listing and in relation to acknowledging my clients (most of who are quoted in the articles).

Have you ever submitted an article that you’ve written on behalf of a client and, if so, how you’ve discussed it with the client? Do you think it would be wise to ask their permission and leave in their quotes? Do you foresee any problem/s with this?”

The answer

Ask the client’s permission?

Yeah, I’d definitely ask the client’s permission. Although, technically, in Australia, copyright remains the property of the creator unless otherwise agreed (sometimes agreement can be implicit), most clients are unaware of this. They think they own the article ‘cos they paid for it. So if you don’t request permission, you could find yourself in trouble… if not legal, then at least client-relationship-wise. By requesting permission, on the other hand, you’re showing respect and courtesy, and clients will like that. Most often, you’ll find your clients will be happy for you to include the article as is, so long as you link to their site as well as your own in the article. After all, they’re featured in the article, and it will ultimately help their SEO too.

A few of my earlier articles fell into this category:

Note, however, that in most of the above articles, I DIDN’T include the client’s details (all the real estate and lifestyle articles). I spoke with the client, though, and I remember he was very dismissive of the whole thing. “Yeah, yeah, that’s fine. Whatever…” Didn’t care at all. Most clients won’t be like this.

Getting best SEO value out of your articles

As to where and how to post the articles in order to get best SEO value out of them… If they’re on topic (i.e. closely related to the subject matter of your site), I’d be inclined to post them on your blog first, then a few days later, distribute them to the article directories. This way, you get the social media benefit of the articles (the subsequent editorial links if the articles are good — these links are worth more than the author bio links you get from article PR), as well as the SEO benefit of the article PR. Know what I mean?

Note also that when you post them on your blog, you should also announce them to your social media following(s), etc etc. so that people are actually aware of them.

And do all of the above one at a time, though, not all at once. Drip-feed style. Otherwise you’ll use up all your blog content in one fell swoop.

About duplicate content

Re duplicate content: Firstly, be aware that there’s no such thing as a ‘duplicate content penalty’. There’s only a ‘duplicate content filter’. This is a Google filter that seeks to ensure that Google’s search results aren’t dominated by the same content over and over again. When Google identifies two identical articles, for example, it applies some intelligence to decide which one to display in the search results. E.g. It might choose to display the version that was published first, or the version that’s hosted on the site with the highest ranking, or the version on the site that’s most closely related to the subject matter of the article.

In other words, your article may not actually be returned in the search results, and unless you change the article pretty significantly, there’s not a lot you can do about that. Google decides. Especially if the article has already been published elsewhere.

That’s not a huge problem, though. You still get the full value of the backlinks to your site. So the articles still help your site’s ranking. If I were in your shoes (and I have been), I’d leave the articles as they are, cop it on the chin if Google displays another version of the article, and just be happy about the link juice you’re getting.

Feel free to comment...
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Belinda wrote on August 5th, 2010

We loved this post so it was included in our Tips for How to Save Your Precious Time By Leveraging Your Business article: Do check it out and let us know your thoughts. All the best, Belinda

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