Google's Matt Cutts: Don't Use Article Directories For Link Building

Jan 30, 2014 • 9:07 am | comments (71) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Matt Cutts on Article DirectoriesIn a short video yesterday, Google's Matt Cutts told webmasters and SEOs not to use article directory sites for link building strategies.

Well, he kind of said not to use it and hinted to it at the end by saying:

My personal recommendation would be probably not to upload an article there.

But on Twitter, he was clearer saying "no."

Here is the video:

Will this stop SEOs from using it? I doubt it.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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Jacques Bouchard

01/30/2014 02:12 pm

I mean, this video seems like it's about two years late in coming.

Joel K

01/30/2014 02:15 pm

Well I for one am totally shocked by this response

Subhash Prajapati

01/30/2014 02:28 pm

If your article is informative to users and not publishing for links...i think not spam the website.

William White

01/30/2014 02:31 pm

Love that question "should I build links using article directories?"... Well considering that "White Hat SEO" is all about content marketing, and attracting links via high quality content the answer is fairly obvious! Plus the extensive volume of literature from Matt and the entire SEO community in general - what was the point in this video? This video should incur a penalty, it was clearly spun content. It did not provide any value to the end user and I am disappointed that I wasted almost 2 mins of my life watching it!


01/30/2014 03:03 pm

Other than trying to clarify things, Matt is trying to spread confusion... Well for that what he is paid for !!!!!


01/30/2014 03:04 pm

I think it is good that Matt is very clear on this issue. I had an article directory once that was overrun with spam, so I shut it down. Most of the spam, and poorly written articles, originated from India. Shutting down India spam operations should be a priority for Google because it would do a great service in cleaning up the internet.


01/30/2014 03:18 pm

I cannot believe it took Matt Cutts until 2014 to make this clear! A very old technique that is not worthwhile.

Soni Sharma

01/30/2014 03:52 pm

Oh.. He said don't publish one article and syndicate it many places to get links. If you use article and directory submission for spamming stop that.


01/30/2014 03:55 pm

Oh, thanks Matt for clearing that up. Please also show a video about keyword stuffing including white fonts on white background.


01/30/2014 04:08 pm

can matt cutts provide us such clear information about all link types? or him want peoples made mistakes because of google hiding this information from them?


01/30/2014 04:17 pm

why? this still works and reporting it to spam team doesn't work either, sites still rank in my area. I guess its because the text is not exact same #fff as bg that g cant pick that up?

Jacques Bouchard

01/30/2014 04:24 pm

Marcus -- Have fun playing with fire. ;-)


01/30/2014 05:11 pm

what do u mean? I don't do it but others do! I report it but the sites don't get taken down...


01/30/2014 05:46 pm

@marcus my competitor also doing this. Hidden text at the footer page. Using h1, h2, h3 and also sidewide link. I report it but the sites don't get taken down... d**n you google See footer of these two sites: - bit*ly/1kdU5Ap - bit*ly/1hS3gVP If you see the link -you should know the keywords. Try search that keyword on google indonesia (local)

Jacques Bouchard

01/30/2014 06:20 pm

oh. Well, then _they're_ playing with fire, and sooner or later, they'll get caught for it.


01/30/2014 07:17 pm

its a shame isn't it, Matt says report spam, we report spam with clear on page hidden links and tag clouds and nothing happens, what can you do? These site shave been there for YEARS so clearly it still works (I still wont do it myself because I hold out hope G will pick up keyword ~ keyword ~ keyword ~ keyword clouds at the footer of websites, should be hard should it?)


01/30/2014 09:19 pm

Google does not hide this information at all. Quite simply, any link that is paid for, self-placed, or placed in exchange for other incentive is not a good link.

Neil Perulli

01/30/2014 09:51 pm

I could not agree more, article syndication has been a bad choice for years, even before Penguin

Bill Nadraszky

01/31/2014 02:00 am

I thought article links stopped working after Panda

Jitendra Vaswani

01/31/2014 04:47 am

yeah they are bad, we are producing same content everywhere

Shyam Sunder Sharma

01/31/2014 04:51 am

Then how to promote website in search engines, Please Mr. Matt Cutts tell us.. I think only paid marketing only way for us?


01/31/2014 06:27 am

Can we use link wheel(indirect promotion of website) methodology to promote our website in Google....??????? Please suggest !!!

Shikha Merigi

01/31/2014 06:31 am

very useful post!!!


01/31/2014 07:32 am



01/31/2014 07:37 am

Will you please explain word "No" ..!!!!!!!

Rahul Mishra

01/31/2014 07:39 am

Why can not we use it? If we will not use this way of promoting then what are the others way to promote website in Google.

Vaishnav Kumar

01/31/2014 10:26 am

What About those sites which are getting revenue by generating traffic through automated tools and still running on top from max generic keywords, is there any Algos or tracking system to track these sites ?

Vaishnav Kumar

01/31/2014 10:27 am

After this Its very difficult to create links. After Dir, Bkm, Blog Commnt. & Now Articles Whats Next ? We have to find new resources to get Quality Links .....


01/31/2014 10:29 am

Our digital marketing agency (allegedly one of the best in the north of the country) spent all summer building crappy links on directories and article directories. I can't believe agencies still do this - they do it coz they get away with it, their client care is shoddy. And the SME picks up the pieces when the dust has settled.

Yogita Aggarwal

01/31/2014 11:25 am

Following same from last 5 months :)

Yogita Aggarwal

01/31/2014 11:30 am

No wonder, Article marketing is totally a spammy marketing activity from years. I have seen webmasters who used to submit single article on multiple directories just to get backlinks..


01/31/2014 11:48 am

Absolutely agree with you.. but what if someone writes new and unique articles and then uploads one article in one article directory?

Patti Paz

01/31/2014 12:09 pm

WOW, another tightening of the noose! After all the don'ts listed the past two years, what's left??


01/31/2014 12:46 pm

what if the post in your blog was syndicated many times


01/31/2014 12:50 pm

Answer is only one - Do quality work. Other question - How? Single Content on Single Website of High PR that have trusted domain age and i think you should choose ur blog instead of other things. This'll help alot.


01/31/2014 12:54 pm

If they are building spam links, they are no-where near one of the best in the country. They are spammers without a clue. That technique has been out-dated and dangerous for about 2 years now and was dodgy even before that.


01/31/2014 01:17 pm

If you not publishing for links then why not writing on your own blog ?


01/31/2014 01:17 pm



01/31/2014 01:18 pm

Absolutely. This video came late but all SEO's already know all this i guess

Frank Schwarz

01/31/2014 01:18 pm

So what is the difference in quality of Article Directory content (supposedly, considered spam now) and every news agency using AssociatePress content. Most of the time the news agencies don't rewrite the content and you can search the AP database for content to use on your news site (subscription based service) and the AP has bios and links pointing back to them. A lot of their articles are also about 150-500 word count.


01/31/2014 02:22 pm

Oh damn. I just wasted another 5 bucks on fiverr.

Mike Kalil

01/31/2014 03:29 pm

AP has quality content.

Frank Schwarz

01/31/2014 03:43 pm

It does? Not always. Some of their stuff is extremely short and it's also used verbatim on thousands of sites. And, when did Google start an algorithm that understands quality? Quality is based upon the readers choice. I for one think William Shakespeare, was a waste of reading time, but I love Mark Twain. Google is complete unable to tell the difference between a sonet and a novella. They use math to digest content and density of a subject. I just think this is another way Matt Cutts, can show us how the scare tactics of a power house will get the masses to conform to their desires to generate ad revenue. It's never been about quality, or half of Wiki would be considered crap until every entry is the size of a whole encyclopedia.

Mike Kalil

01/31/2014 03:51 pm

Good content doesn't have to be long. Brevity is a good thing when it comes to news. The Associated Press actually has standards for what they will publish; article directories do not. Their stuff is used on thousands of sites because people get their news from all over the place. It's standard for news sites to have national/international sections. That way someone can get all the news they want from their local news outlets. This is the way print newspapers work. There's no reason it can't be the same online. Rewriting the content would be wasted effort when they're already understaffed. Most stuff on article directories is useless - oftentimes written by machines. There is no comparison.


01/31/2014 03:56 pm

No... really.... You don't think this might have been the point... you know since Google said they were going after the people creating spammy links to game the SERPs.....

Yogita Aggarwal

01/31/2014 04:07 pm

Well, I would still say not to use article directories. As article directories have number of users and if you are not spamming there; might be other members will do or they are doing and you cannot control that. Overall that affects the reputation of that article directory. So it is better to keep distance from article directories. @techhoney:disqus


01/31/2014 04:17 pm

Maybe you should try something else. Like not trying to create garbage links that clutter up the internet with useless crap while you try to trick both Google and web users into thinking a site is more valuable than it really is. If you can't do that, please stop messing up the internet with spam and find another way to make a living.


01/31/2014 04:45 pm

Ooo matt. you too out dated. i have expected this update on 4 years back. stop teaching about bad links quality links. u try hard to prevent spam. but u cant. all u can do release an update about what not to do. :D . I'm smiling at u buddy


01/31/2014 04:46 pm

Thanks Yogita for this perspective, I never thought this way.. I have heard that web2.0 and free blog services are effective in back-linking and SEO.. whats your take on it??

Yogita Aggarwal

01/31/2014 04:54 pm

Though now practically it is not possible to dominate Google search results with back links I would suggest not to use these wonderful tactics just to get backlinks. Blogs and Web2.0 sites have great potential to get conversions so use them wisely. Create them for your users not for search engines.


01/31/2014 05:25 pm

Thanks Yogita.. will try to use them more creatively ..


01/31/2014 06:07 pm

Thanks for this. I have been saying the same thing for 10 years. "It is Google's job to return the most relevant result for X query. So, in order to rank well you have to make the site actually relevant" I typically do brand based work so, perhaps that is a caveat. I have to actually care about backlink profiles. What folks don't get is SEO is more like sales than anything else. There should be nothing mechanical about it. You have to be human and awesome... and be able to form a coherent sentence when talking to folks. Its fairly easy to make sites "build their own links" if you simply bother to give a shit. I very much appreciate your comment about cluttering up the web. I have the same level of angst for stuff like bootstrap and other entirely lazy and pointless frameworks slowing down the train as well.


01/31/2014 06:17 pm



01/31/2014 09:14 pm

yes, you must use only adwords for links building. otherwise they will ban your site. Don't touch pennies which elephant forget to get.


01/31/2014 09:17 pm

yahoo voices, ezinearticles, ehow, livestrong - it all content farms, with "quality control" passed to rank for most popular terms (especially written seo articles). And it funny but they still ranks. So google, i think it not possibly to find ANY website which will follow your "unnatural terms and conditions", because you living "not in real world!"


01/31/2014 09:22 pm

i dont know nothing about the associated press, however every article directory is different. some have standards, when some not have it. Google 2012 before have some standards, now it have only $$$ standard. They even promote now thin "in-depth" articles even on keyword porn (complete crap in top10 for keyword with billion of searches monthly) I think you still believe in google tales. But google doing all this not because of content quality. Yesterday was published their financial report, again 30% up. They get that money up and up for last 2 years since first pengiune. Is it unnatural in time where everybody closing their projects and losing workjobs in Web IT? Yes, it totally unnatural. So traffic get not high quality sites, but google itself!


01/31/2014 09:29 pm

not hide? why in this case so much peoples here (and at forums) so confused and they are losing workjob (by hundred of thousands)? Amazon have 99% of paid backlinks (aff program) - but not banned. Google chrome page have paid backlinks, but not banned. Wikipedia have lot of unnatural backlinks (webmasters link to top site from top10 in hope they not get penalty for external link) Youtube have lot of paid backlinks, but not banned. booty is clear clone of webmd, but it not banned and still ranks. pornhub purchasing links everywhere and have contacted everybody about links selling. it was banned? no - it still in top10 under every porn keyword. etc. you need more examples?

Gracious Store

02/01/2014 12:23 am

Few days ago Matt banished affiliate marketers to the wilderness, today "article directories", because if people cease to submit articles to their directories, why will they be in existence? Who/what will Matts banish nest? Press release?

Vitaliy Kolos

02/01/2014 02:24 pm

Well, it's kinda something that most experienced SEOs know about, but it's always great when Matt specifically points that out.


02/02/2014 03:14 am

Google is busting big players , and they do not care if they did blackhat or not. if antispam team don't like content, they will do everything to deindex them. Build Quality no matter what

Durant Imboden

02/02/2014 04:02 pm

He's already said that using press releases *as an SEO ploy* is a bad idea. His message--and Google's--has been consistent all along: "Paid links are a violation of Google's guidelines even when you try to disguise them as something else."

Matts Backpack

02/02/2014 11:22 pm

This isn't really news though is it? I think most SEOs have worked on that assumption for quite a while now. They've been handing out penalties for that sort of stuff for a long time.

Gracious Store

02/03/2014 03:14 am

So what is left for SEO? Press release bad idea, guest blogging considered dead, article directories not good, So what is left?


02/03/2014 09:11 am

So why do 'top' agencies still buy links for clients on directory sites and content farms if Cutts says it's so bad? I think I'm missing some data here...or truth.

Roman M

02/03/2014 12:14 pm

And what exactly is the news here?

Subodh Doharey

02/03/2014 12:20 pm

anything done in excess is harmful, doing relevant and appropiate number of listing & articles will never hamper SEO rankings

A. Lee Hardin

02/05/2014 07:35 pm

Matt's reply really only deals with the first four words in "Should I build links using article directories?". The answer would be the same for anything that followed.


02/06/2014 02:21 pm

A free directory listing is never appropriate, especially when optimising for targeted keywords. Churn n burn is fine, but long termism? No.

Ahmad Balavipour

02/12/2014 09:40 am

I am writing good article and post that articles in my industry article directories and it works for me.


02/19/2014 03:47 am

Steward. are you saying that we should use paid links instead? Because that is clearly a no-no. I am not in favor of article directories, but your statement that free listings are bad is not the reason. It is contrary to everything Google has ever said. If I misunderstood then I appologize and will give you a chance to clarify if you want.

Geri Richmond

03/11/2014 03:33 am

That makes total sense to me because the 300, 400 word articles aren't the greatest quality. The articles are still good for getting traffic, though.

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