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An article directory is a website with collections of articles written about different subjects. Sometimes article directories are referred to as content farms, which are websites created to produce mass content, where some are based on churnalism.
An article directory may accept new articles from any contributor, but may require that a new article is unique (not published elsewhere) and not spun (see article spinning). A typical article is around 400-500 words, and tools such as a WYSIWYG editor for writing and submitting an article may be provided.
An author box may be provided for personal information about an author, including a link to the author's website.
Tags or categories may be used to organize articles and to help with search engines since tags or categories act as keywords that identify the topics covered in the article. Many directories pay the author for his/her participation. Some directories review articles before they are published and there may be a waiting period of several days before a new article appears. This helps to eliminate low quality submissions, including duplicate articles, spam and spun articles.
Submitting articles for SEO
Article directories allow users to submit unique articles to the directory. These directories allow articles to embed links to other websites with relevant anchor text. Popular article directories are considered authority sites and are constantly crawled by search engine bots. Webmasters submit articles with relevant anchor text linking back to their site to obtain backlinks.
Links from article directories are harmful to your SEO today. Beginning with the Google Penguin release on April 24, 2012, Google began to punish sites that obtained links from article directories. This is not as recommended method for obtaining links to your web site. On January 29, 2014, Matt Cutts, head of Google's webspam team, posted a video specifically warning against the use of article directories for SEO linkbuilding.
Article structure and format
For SEO purposes, the ideal article length is currently 800–1200 words with a keyword density of approximately 2%–3%. Optimal article length changes over time; as recently as 2008, articles that were 200 to 400 words long were deemed acceptable. As search engines continue to evolve the importance of the content continues to rise. Most article directories allow links but usually limit the number to 2 or 3. The backlinks should have anchor text created using HREF tags. Most article directories prohibit keyword stuffing, so it is good practice to use multiple anchor text and links in the article. However, as the paragraph above cited, this practice is no longer tolerable within the search engines and any article directory with anchor text or any links will be penalized by the search engine algorithms because it violates the search engine quality guidelines and prevents the search engines from returning quality search results to users.