I’ve heard a great many people talking recently about cutting back on their article marketing since Google’s Panda update has rendered so much content and so many article sites worth much less than they used to. Certainly the evidence shows that many businesses have suffered badly as a result of Google’s updates throughout 2011, and many article directories have been punished heavily, seeing their traffic levels slashed.

But does this mean that you should give up on article marketing, or reduce your use of SEO articles in favour of alternative marketing solutions? To explain the situation clearly, let me tell you a story about three elves:

There were once three little elves who, having been given a day off dancing in sunshine dappled glades, decided to go fishing. The first elf sat down at the first stretch of water he came across and started throwing stones into the river. Any stone, pebble or rock his hand came across would be hurled with reckless abandon into the river. The second elf turned to him and said “Why are you simply throwing rocks randomly into the river?” The first elf replied, “I’m sure to hit a few fish on the head this way, and then I’ll have my dinner!”

The second elf wandered away, shaking his head. He suspected that there was a much better place to catch fish, where the water wasn’t so fast and frothy. He found a quiet spot round a bend and got out his stick and twine, and lowered it into the water. The third elf turned to him and asked “Why are you sitting there with a stick and a bit of string?” The second elf replied “This seems like a good spot, and I’m sure I’ll catch a few fishes with my fishing rod, then I can have my dinner!”

The third elf shook his head and moved on much further upstream. He had already asked around and found out from others who had already been fishing where the best spot was. He settled himself down and got out his beautiful fishing rod. He selected just the right kind of bait and attached it carefully, flicking his rod and lowering the baited hook into the middle of the river.

As the three elves made their way home at the end of the day, the first elf rubbed his empty stomach, complaining that he’d only hit one fish and it had sunk to the bottom where he couldn’t get it. The second elf rubbed his aching stomach and complained that he had seen many fish swim past but had caught none, even though he was clearly in a good place. The third elf turned to the other two and asked them if they would be kind enough to help him carry his sack load of fish as it was starting to weigh him down.

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this little tale! Those businesses who have seen their traffic levels drop or who have noticed their website disappearing from the top of the search engines have almost certainly been doing their article marketing a little like the first or second elf. Simply throwing any old rubbish out there will no longer work. Even throwing half decent stuff out there won’t do much better, and certainly not if you don’t know where to fish.

If you know where to fish, you have exactly the right tools and you make sure you have a great hook that’s baited specifically for the kind of fish you’re after then there is no doubt that article marketing today is an extremely effective online marketing tactic.

Have you noticed any difference with your traffic levels or website’s appearance in the search engines as a result of the 2011 updates? Have you changed the way you do your article marketing? Please share your tips and suggestions by leaving a comment below.