I am still astonished at the number of people who have walked away from one of the most effective and long-lasting search engine optimisation and website marketing strategies, all because of a couple of innocent monochromatic animals.

When Google introduced their Panda algorithms, and then threw in their Penguin updates, a huge number of people saw their website ranking plummet. Amongst those sites which plummeted were several well-known and well-respected article directories.

As a result of this a lot of people concluded that article directories were bad, article writing and article marketing were bad, and that Google disapproved of article marketing as an SEO strategy.

They were wrong. They still are.

So Why Isn't Article Marketing Dead Yet?

Google has never denounced article writing or article marketing as a strategy, and in fact if you read carefully what they have written on the subject they are enthusiastic and encouraging about article writing.

So if Google are quite happy for us to use article writing as a way of marketing our sites, why did they penalise many of the leading article directories?

The answer is simple. A lot of people got lazy. It seemed at one stage that article marketing was a great money-spinner for the article directories themselves, and there was a temptation to either lower the barrier, allowing a greater proportion of the articles being submitted to go live, or simply remove the barrier completely and allow anything to be published.

In the latter case, very few article directories achieved positive recognition for this tactic, but in the former case, most article directories were able to retain a high ranking position based largely on the fact that they hosted a significant number of well written, quality articles. Google appeared happy to overlook the poor quality content, and the mediocre content, because of the good quality content which also existed.

However, this all changed when Google introduced their Panda and Penguin updates over the last couple of years. No longer was Google happy to accept the poor quality and mediocre content, and some sites which contained this were heavily penalised, in spite of the fact that they also included much good quality content.

Those article directories which realised this quickly removed those articles which were not of an exceptional standard. Not all article directories of course were as diligent, and as a result saw their traffic plummet massively, and to this day remain well below the dizzying heights they once enjoyed.

But those more respectable article directories which carefully pruned any content which was not of a very high standard, and which from that point on remained far more selective about the quality of the content being published on their site have seen their traffic levels increase significantly. The fact that there are also fewer quality directories competing for the traffic now means that overall they are performing significantly better.

For article writers and article marketers there is also an advantage in that there are fewer submissions being accepted by the leading article directories. Today it is necessary to consistently provide an extremely high standard of content in order to prevent articles from being rejected. The prize for being accepted is to be able to enjoy the recognition of both the quality article directory and search engines such as Google.

The traffic statistics don’t lie, and over the last few months I’ve been experimenting with increasing and decreasing article marketing in different areas, and it is clear that there is still value in quality article marketing today. However, it is not a field in which just anyone can dabble. Whilst many people may feel happy with throwing the odd blog post together, adding status updates to Facebook, and tweeting happily, article writing and article marketing requires a much more structured approach, a very clear understanding of the specific needs of the target audience, and a very high standard of writing.

But even this isn’t enough.

There are many mistakes still being made even by those article writers and article marketers who are able to understand their audience well, and craft well written, correctly spelt, grammatically accurate and professionally structured articles. Later this week I’m going to publish a blog post which highlights what I consider to be the most common mistakes made in article marketing in the post Panda and Penguin era.

Are you still using article marketing yourself? Have you changed your article marketing strategy over the past few months or year? Have you seen your traffic levels change at all as a result of this? Please share your article marketing experiences, or feel free to ask any questions about article marketing using the comments below.