We’ve had our Borealis program running for nearly 15 years. In that time we’ve sent what must be hundreds of thousands of articles to hundreds of websites as part of our standalone product. With the revised nature of our service we’ve integrated the basic program directly into Yabber making it available to all brokers at no additional cost (there may be a small monthly fee associated with higher-level articles but we'll always post up to eight articles per month at no cost).
This chapter introduces some of the advantages and disadvantages of Yabber's article program, and we introduce the basics of how it is used.
Early Aversions to Article Marketing
We started our first article submission service back in 2004 using blogger.net.au and blouza.net as our launch pads. We ingested articles from about a dozen different sources and then routinely submitted the content to participant websites. In its day the service worked as advertised; in fact, the service was commonplace and profitable, and it hadn’t (justifiably) attracted the same measure of criticism or search-engine discrimination that you’ll see assigned to the same type of service today.
The problem with the articles submitted via any of our early services is that the articles were generally. The idea is that authors would contribute articles to promote their business via integrated links and detailed bios, and the recipients of the articles used the content for search engine indexing and as a means of building a web presence – and it kind of worked. We later included a social media service that’d post articles to a nominated account, often resulting in hundreds or even thousands of followers (the same wouldn’t work today).
A white paper we published a number of years ago talks about why we completely abandoned the early system, and the paper introduced the nuances and nuisances of the program. In essence we preempted Google’s criticism of the article-submission practice and instead relegated our efforts to our custom article program which was performing very well and returned (and continues to return) excellent results.
Bottom line: an automated article on your website won’t contribute towards your online expertise, authoritativeness and trust (or ‘EAT’, as discussed in our article on SEO) unless the article is of quality, original, supports your reader interests, and follows absolute best-practice with regard to SEO.
Article Submission & SEO
As introduced in our article on SEO (or ‘Search Engine Optimisation’), and described in more details in our standalone 400-page guide on SEO, “
[d]uplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin” (source: Google ).
When the same article is shared to multiple websites Google has to pick just one as the primary source over any other, thus eliminating your article from primary search results, or even from garnishing the keyword and authoritative nature of the content. So, in essence, article submission services share content for your audience - except for Google... so don’t be misled into thinking that article submission services are a benefit for SEO because they generally have a null effect when adopting best practice (as we introduce shortly) and have a seriously negative impact if appropriate in-page markup is ignored. Any article distribution service will have an adverse effect on your search rank (or SERP) if it's all you post (since you're not demonstrating your own expertise and authoritativeness).
The biggest problem with those online services that provide an article submission services is that they generally don’t follow best practice for ‘duplicate content’... so they’re essentially introducing a debilitating roadblock into your SEO efforts - and it’s very common practice. Even the MFAA makes some articles available without making the SEO implications clear. A marketing agency should never introduce non-compliance to your business in any way but unfortunately this is exactly what has happened in the finance industry because the services submitting the duplicate content don’t apply appropriate consideration to the SEO penalties.
Duplicate content isn’t necessarily bad (all the time). Press releases, syndicated news, and even quoted article content – such as an extract from an RBA statement – all represent duplicate content (duplicate content doesn't have to be the entire article). Google’s usually clever enough to pick up on all the fancy signals and assign page-rank to the first that is indexed, or the one that it identifies as the original. To help Google do their job, and whenever these non-original sources are used, there are structured page elements that are necessary to tell Google and other search engines where the content came from and, if a duplicate article, where the definitive source article is located. This is performed primarily by way of the citation element (used in blockquote or inline ‘q’ tags) and a canonical URL .
Many will try and find an article and then modify it in some way to appear as original. However, Google reads your site as a super-human and is usually clever enough to pick up on the deception... thus relegating your content as plagiarism and usually punishes your page and site as a result. We tell our clients that if you’re going to take this approach you should use any number of articles for inspiration, cite them when necessary, and make your own article indistinguishable from any other. Original content is still king.
Google makes the point that “[i]f your site contains multiple pages with largely identical content, there are a number of ways you can indicate your preferred URL to Google”, and it goes on to describe usage of the canonical URL (itself usually a technical barrier for most). If all you’re sharing on your website is duplicate content then your site will suffer as a consequence – often seeing itself removed from results completely.
Even internal linking presents problems. Internal linking lends itself to page structure and assigns various page-rank signals to those pages that are referenced. So, knowing this, is changing or adding an internal link to text considered plagiarism? We are, after all, altering the page from its original. We’re reliably told by Google that as long as that link follows best-practice by way of a nofollow tag, and other elements appear on-page, the change won’t impact upon your site reputation.
It’s important to understand the risks of duplicate content and the absolutely necessary best-practice implementation in order to understand the sophistication of our proprietary article submission system, and in order to understand the latent risks associated with duplicate content or article programs of any kind.
The Yabber Finance Article Distribution Service
Understanding all that was discussed in the previous section, and despite the general objection to generic articles in isolation (we’re massive advocates for your own content), our article submission service is available to be used as part of the core Yabber subscription.
Unlike typical article submission services, our system supports automated internal linking (so, from one page to another), and all internal links are tracked. Additionally, we cite all quotes, credit all images (all licenced or made available under a Creative Commons licence), and we inject necessary data into website to serve a canonical URL and all other relevant SEO data (for example, object graph tags which are used to represent your page on social media). These actions ensure complete compliance with SEO guidelines so that your site provides all applicable attribution.
In order to provide attribution to a canonical URL we have had to create a non-commercial website where all the articles are located. At the time of writing the location of this generic website is yet-to-be determined.
We provide articles of two main types: internal white-label articles, and guest articles. The white label articles always include an "originally published on..." style of link, in addition to the SEO markup (adhering to SEO best practice; the article source website itself is generic and doesn't compromise on your authority), while guest posts are those provided by professionals in a closely related field. The guest posts will include very clear attribution to the author and will not be scheduled if they fail to meet internal high standards.
You won’t always want guest articles and you can easily mute these posts, as you can any category of post. You won’t always want articles posting sequentially when you haven’t posted any of your own original content, so you have the option of defining a post frequency. These options may be modified via the multi-website options panel.
Pictured: Yabber article options. Because Yabber supports multiple websites you should first select the website where the options will apply.
The type or article sent to your site, and the category where it’ll reside on your website is defined via our ‘Articles’ panel. You simply select your applicable website, check those article categories that apply, and select a post category.
If you’re using one of our Satellite websites (notably our complimentary 'Equipment Finance' Website), you may choose to only send automotive or equipment related articles to that website. Your primary broker website, however, is more of a lifestyle hub and is befitting of most content we produce.
A significant portion of the article content we produce is lifestyle-related. Just like most people are drawn towards cat-pics on Facebook, and funny videos on YouTube, most of your audience is more interested in cooking, DIY, or gardening, than they are in monetary policy.
Pictured: The article options panel is long and comprehensive. Each panel, when checked, returns a category and published status for articles of that type that are submitted.
When deciding what content you want to have submitted to your website you simply map the Yabber article category to a category on your website. You should also select a status (draft or published). There are times where we'll force a draft status.
There are times where you're more likely to promote a page more than any other, such as Government grant information or monthly RBA explainers (supplementing your RBA Email and SMS - also optionally automated). Since our articles are optionally filtered back into the social realm via automatic social media posting, your audience may encounter your message there rather than anywhere else... so some articles might be important to use when others are not. When you have an audience back on your website we have the potential to convert off a standard on-page calendar booking form.
It should be noted that the most popular lead magnet ever manufactured by one of our brokers (the magnet later made its way into a standard blog post) was a 'how-to' guide on growing year-round vegetables for a family of five. It saw millions of downloads from around the world, and we attributed over 200-million in residential borrowing as a result of that single magnet over a few years. As we describe in an article on what brokers should write about, it doesn't always have to be finance related.
This article title stated that our article submission program will create 'engagement' - not improved page rank. The articles we post will be beneficial for those that visit your website, but they won't be responsible for drawing visitors to your website. As we've described, and somewhat ironically, an article submission service is generally best suited by those that need it least; it suits businesses that already have a content program in place but are looking at supplementing their material with a contrasting or lifestyle-orientated angle.
We're aware that we're essentially talking you out of the service... and this is because it isn't always a good idea. We see article submission services in the market that promote their service as some kind of serious business asset when it potentially has a seriously negative effect (if you have invested in any of these services it's likely it has had no positive effect on your ROI whatsoever... and you've probably already seen your page rank drop).
Having done our best to talk you out of using our article service, we can assure you that it's the most sophisticated of its kind in the market. The linking structures, internal images and image graphs, all internal elements, complete SEO markup, and other supporting technical considerations are applied as per better-practice making it the most powerful module of its kind in the industry. We just want you to question your motives and the program's purpose before you use it.