Article submission is perhaps one of the best ways to leverage your products and services on the Internet....that is, if done correctly, but like Link Exchange, I think it's being abused.
That said, I don't think Article Marketing is about to die. It's alive and strong!
I have noticed that a lot of authors are submitting articles for the wrong reasons. Authors are submitting 'half baked' articles fueled by a 'PageRank' and 'BackLink' craze, a very fruitless endeavor. Like in link exchange, the search engines have wisened up and are getting better at weeding out 'spam'.
It's imperative that you submit ?quality? articles. A badly written article may generate you that ?backlink? that you so much desire, but the real purpose of submitting your article to an article marketing directory is to gain publishers who will willingly publish your articles on their websites, blogs and newsletters; that's where the real traffic comes from. Publishers should 'want' to publish your article...and they will not publish a poorly written article.
Submitting numerous short (less than 500 words) and haphazardly written articles will do you no good. Also submitting the same article with a few modifications over and over is not acceptable; it's duplicate content and defeats the purpose of a directory.
An author needs to sit back, choose a good topic and come up with a article that is an effective marketing tool, an article that captivates the reader and makes him or her want to publish it, print and/or forward it to their friends.
Anything less is essentially a waste of time!
How many times have you seen a website with thousands of backlinks but with no ?PageRank? or worse still does not feature in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) at all. Too many, I must say. If 'numbers' is the game, then why do some directories containing thousands upon thousands of articles have very low PageRank or in numerous instances none at all? Clearly the 'Link Farming Phenomenon' applies to article directories too! Search engine algorithms are identifying these attributes in article directories and filtering pages from indexing and search results. Duplicate content is unavoidable in article directories, but a sincere attempt must be made by authors and directory owners to improve quality and uniqueness of articles.
As an author, your number one priority when writing an article is ?quality and uniqueness?. You must write powerfully and with purpose. Your writing must be attractive and persuasive, otherwise it's not worth the trouble. Write a few 'very good articles' and submit them to carefully selected article directories. Make sure it's a well written and useful article....something people will want to publish in their blog, website or ezine.
As I post post my own articles to directories, I always find myself refining the article. This may or may not have any direct benefit but I strongly believe it's part and parcel of the quality control process.
Personally, I don't worry about PageRank or BackLinks, I also do not force feed my directory and I read each and every article that is submitted to the directory.
Write good articles and let it come to you naturally....the search engines will reward you as bloggers and webmasters post your articles on their sites, something they will only do if your writing is stimulating and relevant.
Look at your article as 'Your Product' or 'Your Service'. A service or product that is not choreographed properly will almost always be rejected. If you are having trouble writing, make time and study what the topnotch writers are doing. The Internet is 'pregnant' with excellent writers.
As an owner of an Article Directory, I demand from my authors that they make a serious attempt at writing quality articles. For example, I now do not accept anything less than 500 words in length...debatable yes, but shorter articles are usually badly written.
In summary, here are a few salient points to note:
1. Plan, be clear, be original, structured, substantive and interesting.
2. Your writing must be grammatically and syntactically correct. Spelling mistakes are a no-no! Proof read your articles.
3. Your article(s) should be at least 500 words long.
4. There are plenty of writing samples and guides all over the internet. Look for them and use them. Visit article directories and read the articles within. Nobody is asking you to re-invent the 'writing wheel', but it's of utmost importance that you keep abreast with what the top authors are doing.
5. Get feedback from your friends and colleagues. Two or more heads have always been better than one.
6. Write on topics that mean something to you - passion breeds excellence.
7. Finally if writing is too laborious for you, hire a Ghost Writer and let him/her express your thoughts for you.
Article marketing should be a win-win situation for directory owners and authors, therefore responsible directory owners should guide their authors and help them improve their writing; such as digging up information for them and emailing it to them in the form of a weekly newsletter, a blog or a forum.
Additionally, directory owners should engage their authors in meaningful discussions on article and general marketing, as it is part and parcel of the cut throat Internet Marketing Game, a science that must be taken seriously.
James Opiko owns and runs AfroArticles.com, an Article Marketing Directory. He posts regularly at his marketing blog located here: http://www.afroarticles.com/blog/wordpress/