Posted by TrendingSideways
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.
Outsourcing your link building efforts can work, but as a Textbroker author I can tell you right now, most people aren't doing it right. The majority of clients who submit articles are still living in a world before the Panda update, and a striking number of them still use tactics that haven't even worked since Google's inception.
I'm going to tell you now, what you're about to hear isn't pretty. We're going to take a visit to the underbelly of the outsourced link building world. I'm going to get a little rough here, but odds are you'll learn something.
How Much Do Your Link Building Articles Cost?
About 1.2 cents per word? If you're really looking for quality, you're paying 2.2 cents per word. I'm a four star author, so the articles I write cost 2.2 cents a word. But I only see 1.4 cents for each word I write. Let's do the math, shall we?
To make $ 10, I need to write 714 words. I am a native English speaker who lives in the first world. I'm not willing to work for less than minimum wage. What does that mean? It means I'm not going to spend much more than an hour on a 714 word article.
I've chosen this source of income because I'm a college student with a bizarre schedule and the hours are convenient. $ 10 is not a lot of money to me.
If you ask me for an article about [your keyword here], and your description reads as follows:
“Please write an article about [your keyword here]”
then you should know something. I won't write you a decent article. Odds are, I'll reword something that I come across on EzineArticles. You know, that site that got slammed by the Panda update, and knocked down all of the sites that got their links there?
There is only one subject that I write decent articles about: SEO. That's because I actually know what I'm talking about, and I can recite most of the stuff from memory. I'm even up to date on the subject, because I regularly educate myself about it. Of course, those still pale in comparison to the articles on my own site, which take hours or days of research and a willingness to actually communicate with science experts.
The thing is, I could write good articles about other subjects. It's just that Textbroker's clients would need to learn how to streamline their outsourcing processes. And nobody seems to be doing that.
Allow me to offer you some advice.
You're Still Keyword Stuffing? Really?
Some of you might be shocked by this, but I am routinely being asked to stuff my articles with keywords. It takes up more work than it ever should for me to sift through the article requests and find one that isn't asking me to jam the same keyword 12 times into a 400 word article.
Then there's the client who only asks for the keywords to be repeated 2 or 3 times, but wants five or ten tangential keywords to be included in the text. “But that's only an 8 percent keyword density!” No, it's not, because each one of your keywords is three to five words long, and pretty soon a quarter of your article consists of meaningless keyword phrases. I can't tell you how often I've written an article where I had to include at least one keyword in every sentence.
In case you think I'm joking…
(That's a 20 percent keyword density. MINIMUM. I repeat. That's at least one in every five words.)
Forget Panda. You think that's going to pass a manual review?
It gets worse. There's the client who wants me to write about “dog leashes seattle.” Please tell me how to use that phrase in a sentence. Textbroker now allows you to give writers the option of using connecting words, so I could write something legible like “Dog leashes in Seattle.” Inexplicably, very few clients use this option.
Presumably, the clients actually believe that including an exact keyword in their text is preferable to legible writing. Inevitably, I am occasionally forced to write things like “When it comes to dog leashes Seattle is the place to buy them” even though it makes no sense to write this, ever, and it completely ignores proper comma use.
More often than not, I have no choice but to say something like “Looking to buy dog leashes Seattle?”
Please. Clients. Each article should be about one keyword. If it's in the title and it's in the article, and it's what the article's about, congratulations, you've met Google's keyword density requirements.
Don't Ask Me to Do Research
It might sound like I'm whining, but you need to think logistically here. As I said before, if it takes me much more than an hour to make $ 10, you're paying me less than minimum wage. That means one of two things. Either you're not going to get any research, or you're going to get research from somebody who does not speak native English.
There may be exceptions, but they'll burn out fast.
At 1.4 cents per word, you're not paying me to do research. You're paying me to type. I've had enough experience that I can offer you a bonus: actual writing infused with emotion and good article structure. But research? It's not gonna happen.
“But I ask that only people who are experienced with the subject should write about it.” Good for you. That's why my SEO articles are actually good. But if you really think anybody on Textbroker is actually much of an expert on anything else, you're deluding yourself. The experts are writing elsewhere, or doing something else that makes a lot more money.
Am I saying that you should accept crap articles? Of course not. I'm saying that if you want your articles to be well researched, you're going to need to handle the research.
What would I do if I had the budget to outsource link building articles?
- I would spend a week scouring the web for facts about my subject.
- I would visit my local library and read a book about the subject.
- I would talk to industry experts about the subject, and leverage those relationships later on.
- I would subscribe to blogs about the subject, go to Reddit and visit subreddits on the topic, and join Facebook pages about the subject. I would go to StumbleUpon and use their search feature to stumble the topic. I would search for the keyword in Twitter or FollowerWonk and follow those who tweet about the subject.
- I would upload all of this information out of my brain into a list of a hundred or so of the most pertinent bullet points on the subject.
- I would write the most stellar article in the world on my subject.
- I would pick five or ten random bullet points to go into each one of my outsourced link building article requests. I would ask the author to use each one of these facts in the article as the basis for a subtitle, and I would ask the author to react to each one of these bullet points with their own personal view on things. Such an article could easily take up between 400 and 800 words without using filler words. It would also contain more genuine content than anything else I could buy, short of contacting a professional author.
In case you're curious, this is a virtually unlimited source of link building articles about your subject. When choosing from a list of 100 bullet points, there are literally more than ten trillion ways to pick ten of them, no matter what order you present them in. No need to write the same article about the same ten things over and over again.
Of course, I'd probably play it safe, and “only” buy 100 articles on the subject, then move on to learn another 100 bullet points, write another stellar article, and buy another 100 link building articles.
Third Person? Neutral Tone? No Company Names? Are You Crazy?
Allow me to take a leap in the dark and assume that most of your link building articles are intended to become guest posts on blogs. Spend some time reading a blog. Blogs address their readers directly. Blogs aim to be entertaining, not “neutral.” Mentioning other company names is a widespread practice on reputable blogs.
Oh. You're submitting the posts to EzineArticles and low quality directories that have no idea what an engaged audience is. You're doing this in the hopes that Google will reverse it's strategy and that social media is just a phase. You're doing this because you think that non-promotional means never having any fun.
Let me break it to you. It doesn't matter if you're just out to game Google with some manufactured links. Your article's not going to make it onto a high quality site if it isn't written in a way that gets an audience excited. There's never been any question that a link from a high quality site is better than a link from a low quality article directory, and it's clear that Google will only get better at telling the difference.
If you were trying to get your articles published in an academic journal, then it would be a different story. And you'd be going to the wrong place for your articles.
Don't ask your authors to be neutral. Give them something interesting to talk about, and let them respond to the topic like a human being. Maybe then it will be easier to convince the search engines that it was, in fact, written by a human being.
What Have We Learned?
Don't keyword stuff, do the research, and ask for articles that look like they were written by human beings. It's really all pretty basic stuff, and I know anybody with a budget is capable of doing it. But you wouldn't know it from taking a look at the article requests I sift through every day. Good luck, and godspeed.
Scratch that. Luck has nothing to do with it.
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