Article Marketing Challenge Yields Stunning Results

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A little over 2 months ago, I interviewed article marketing expert, Elysia Brooker from Pajama Team.

She laid bare a lot of myths and truths about article marketing, and opened my eyes to it’s potential impact. But I was still suspect, so I issued her a public challenge to take a site that I owned and get it ranked high up on google for two of the top search terms in the niche using article marketing.

It was all up to her, I didn’t want any involvement.

Even though Elysia had set me straight on a lot of article marketing lore, I have to confess to not expecting a whole lot. Man, was I wrong.

Here’s what she accomplished in 60 days:

  • Search ranking for the top keyword in the niche (approximately 130,000 searches a month) moved from position #9 to position #2 on the first page of google.
  • Search ranking for the second keyword went from being buried way back on some undetermined page to ranking #3 on the first page of google search results.
  • Daily search-driven traffic doubled.

Wow, those are some pretty stunning results!

So, I circled back to Elysia to debrief after the challenge and to ask her how she did it. And, here’s what unfolded:

JF: I’ve gotta be honest, I didn’t expect such a strong improvement in my search rankings in such a short period of time, especially when the two keywords we chose were the most searched one and a second reasonably competitive one AND the website you were working on has been largely dormant. Okay, now, the big reveal…what did you you do make this happen (in as much detail as you can share)?

EB: Search engines use a number of different factors when determining where a website should be ranked. We discussed this in the previous interview, but just briefly one of the major factors considered include: the number (and quality) of links coming back to the web page.

Keeping that in mind, we wanted to build as many high-powered and high quality backlinks to your site as we could.

This process involved:

1) Creating informational content (search engine optimised) based around the two major keywords JF selected for the challenge. This content was prepared in a variety of different formats including tips, general info, methods etc. As suggested in the previous interview, we stuck to 300-350 words – in my experience, there’s no need to go above that word count.

2) Hand submitting this content, every day or so, over the 2 month period to a select group of high PR article directories including Ezine Articles, Go Articles and approximately 10 other carefully selected (and high powered directories).

3) Sourcing a number of guest blog posts on authoritative websites in related markets. These blog posts contained 1-2 links back to the website with keyword-targeted anchor text.

And a few other extra goodies that I might have to keep as classified Pajama Team tricks of the trade.

JF: And, why did you do what you did?

EB: I did this because I wanted both fast, and long lasting results. To be honest, I could have probably gotten you the same results even faster if I hadn’t been concerned about how long the rankings would “stick” after we finished this challenge. But, obviously I wanted the SEO effects to be felt long after I completed the challenge.

With this in mind, I focused my attention on link building efforts that were “viral” in nature. Both links that would continue to grow in value as they aged – and methods with a syndication element that would continue to spread them like wildfire around the web.

JF: Are the results you generated from me via article marketing typical of the results you’ve seen from your own campaigns and those you run for clients?

EB: I’ve had great results with these methods in many different niches from smaller affiliate style  niches to corporate business markets. That is the beauty of content-based link building – you can tailor it to any niche and with the right keywords produce similar results.

The major factor that varies between clients is the speed at which you achieve front page rankings. The speed can be influenced by a few elements, some within my control and others outside of it:

1) The existing age and authority of the client’s domain. Google looks far more kindly on sites that have been around for awhile and have established a presence in a given keyword market

2) The amount of work we’re able to do. The size of a client’s budget determines how much of the work we discussed earlier we can perform and the more we can do, the faster the results will be.

JF: Have you noticed any recent changes in the way google ranks sites that people who are considering article marketing should be aware of?

EB: If you are doing content marketing legitimately i.e. producing quality, unique content and hand distributing it in the right places then I don’t think you have to be scared of changes at the big, bad Google. The updates that they make are only ever to weed out spammers and improve the quality of indexed sites in their search engine. If you are doing things right, and really serving your market with your content marketing strategy, then you have nothing to worry about.

JF: I’ve noticed that even though my rankings went way up, I’m still not getting a whole lot more traffic from these keywords. What do you think might be the reason?

EB: It can take time for all the Google servers to update across all the different locations around the world. As that ranking solidifies over the coming month or two I’m sure you will start to see more of an increase in traffic.

Also, one really underrated part of SEO is the on-page optimization. Often people don’t  realise that ranking on Page 1 and getting traffic aren’t always the same thing. It’s almost like there is two sciences to SEO: 1 is getting your site ranked on page 1 and the 2nd is actually getting people to click through to your site. They require 2 completely different skill sets.

When it comes to click through’s, there are certain things you can tweak with your on-site SEO in order to increase the traffic coming through to your website from Google.

We don’t have time to fully go into it but you mind find it to be the case that small improvements to your page titles and descriptions will increase the click through rates and amount of traffic you receive to the pages. That might be something we need to handle on the next challenge.

JF: If I do change the actual listing content to increase click-rates, will that mess with my ranking, considering that ranking likely comes at least in part from my own content?

EB: No, as long as you don’t for some reason take the keywords we were targeting out of the titles and descriptions then updating it shouldn’t hurt your rankings at all.

JF: And, if I do, will that eventually get re-spidered and pulled into the SERP?

EB: Yes definitely. The content marketing we performed will increase the amount of spider activity your site gets and thus increase the speed at which the changes you make will get re-indexed and updated in the SERPs.

JF: Okay, last question…so, this public challenge worked out really well for both of us, but when I asked you to agree to it, what went through your mind?

EB: Haha…

Once I had researched the keywords and got a feel for your competing market I was pretty confident. I’ve been perfecting my SEO system for awhile now and have got to a place where I can apply the same methods across basically any market and see similar results.

Although, the idea of failing in front of your JF-lovin audience was a good motivator for sure!

And, speaking of your community…

I’d love to offer your tribe a 10% discount on my services. Just tell them to mention your name.


Elysia Brooker is the founder of article marketing and SEO consulting company, Pajama Team.

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29 responses

29 responses to “Article Marketing Challenge Yields Stunning Results”

  1. Andy Hayes says:

    In my experience, links from higher quality websites pays tenfold more than any of the article directories – the perfect example is the link just above here. 🙂

    I’ve tried most if not all of them, and have yet to find one that I’ve been impressed with. Focus your efforts on making friends in the neighbourhood, less so on the directories.

  2. Eric Brown says:

    Good Morning,
    I enjoyed your post, and find content marketing, or article marketing pretty fascinating. For as long as the web has been around, there still are whole business segments that don’t seem to correlate that an increase in web traffic is in direct proportion to an increase in physical traffic, meaning people walking through the door to but more stuff.

    The directional flow of marketing has shifted, and content/article marketing seems to be an excellent conduit for increased web traffic and site ranking results. It seems that the key is, as you point out, good quality content, that adds value for the reader.

  3. Jaky Astik says:

    Well, I remember Neil Patel’s strategy of SEO using backlinks. He got a backlink (paid I guess) from Smashing Magazine and many other popular high quality sites to his marketing blog ‘Quick Sprout’ that led him not only get tons of visitors but also improve his site’s rankings.

  4. Ishan says:

    These are some impressive results. I have always been a bit skeptical about article marketing but looks like it is time to try article marketing for my blog!

  5. Chris Cree says:

    For me the big take away from this is that shorter articles/posts/content can be effective. I tend to write posts that are pretty stinking long sometimes.

    Bottom line though is that it takes consistent effort over time. Most people loose sight of that fact of life.

  6. MikeTek says:

    I used article marketing pretty heavily a few years back. It’s a pretty scalable way to build backlinks, but for very competitive niches the sort of links you’ll get via article directories aren’t strong enough.

    You’ve got to ask, what kind of website will go to an article directory for content rather than creating something unique? Most often, these websites aren’t of the highest quality/authority.

    Guest posting is another story – it’s one of the best SEO strategies you can implement, in my opinion.

    Another reason you might not be getting much more traffic through your new rankings is that Google’s keyword traffic estimates are often way off the mark – especially if you use the AdWords Keyword tool. Here’s a post from Dave Naylor’s blog that explains why (including some evidence).

  7. Andrea Butje says:

    Thanks for the excellent and inspiring blog post. I feel motivated and excited to write more and to contact The Pajama Team for help! You rock!
    Andrea Butje, Aromahead Institute

  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, Lisa Johnson, Mark Silver, Elysia Brooker, Shaun R Smith and others. Shaun R Smith said: Great article from @jonathanfields showing how & proving the value of article marketing […]

  9. Great article indeed and I have found that distributing my content across a variety of sites, including Ezine has definitely helped bring more people to my community that otherwise may not have found me.

    Andrea you definitely should,I just contacted Elysia as I think she’s done a great job and would like to talk to her further about opportunities.

  10. Daniel says:

    Great stuff!

    I agree with Chris’ comment above. I tend to over write my articles and they always end up being close to 800 words. Sounds like I should be breaking them in half and getting twice the milage out of the information.


  11. Jodi Kaplan says:

    I was really impressed – until I got to the paragraph about how the traffic didn’t go up. What’s the use of a high rank without clicks? Isn’t that like spending a lot of time and effort planting tomatoes that don’t bear fruit?

    I’d be interested to know if anything changes in the next month.

  12. Is that why I get so much comment spam, articles pushed on me, authors I never met (their publicists, too) wanting me to review the book just to get links, offers for guest posts, offers for paid text links in my posts, and my good content gets scraped? They should look at the tool – TypePad is the antithesis of SEO optimization 😉 I enjoyed the interviews, Jonathan.

  13. Mark Kelly says:

    Interesting experiment looks like it was quite successful. Good to know it is not based on search engine manipulation but more spreading useful content across multiple locations like ezine and high impact blogs. Will give the ezine attempt a shot and see how it goes.

  14. Tom Bentley says:

    I’ve yet to separate the my SEO from my SERP or my dripping DRECK, but I have found direct, increased traffic to my site as a result of posting a number of articles on Ezine Articles (and after 10 article postings, Ezine even sent me a coffee cup with other unexpected little gifts too, so that’s truly direct traffic). Customer conversion, I dunno…

  15. fabian says:

    i like the last two articles, i’m excited to try the new techniques

  16. Dennis Baker says:


    Just goes to show you, there are a lot of “Pretenders” out there. As with most activities, the “Pro’s” are playing a whole different brand of ball.

    Well Done.

  17. […] Jonathan’s Article Marketing Challenge Yields Stunning Results […]

  18. Vee Sweeney says:

    As Elysia mentioned doing guest posting for well ranked blogs and article marketing through Ezine Articles will help, but I think there has to be a good balance of this. The nice thing about the article directories is that if there are not a lot of well ranked websites on Google for that niche or sub niche, the article directory content may just show up on the first page, which can also give the website being linked to more traffic and exposure. However, I think variety is very important when building links and it seems as though this is very well pointed out in this article. A couple hundred links from Ezine is great, but match that couple hundred with a couple hundred from different and well ranked sites and that’s when the results start to come in.

    • Elysia says:

      Hi Vee

      Yes as I discussed in this interview, and the one previously, I distribute content across a number of different directories – not just Ezine – for optimum results.


  19. Joe Hashey says:

    Great share, thanks Jonathan and Elysia!


  20. Nick Benas says:

    Congrats Elysia!

  21. Matthew Lord says:

    I have been using article marketing to promote my business online for over 2 years. 800 articles and over 250,000 views later I can attest that article marketing is without question one of the best ways to increase your traffic both online and into a physical store location.

    Thanks for the excellent post.

  22. Well..I see absolutely no traffic from article directories, like a big fat 0. The stats are all flawed and I get no traffic at all. Does it give you any page rank or anchor text relevancy? Not from this blog with the nofollow!

  23. Travis Elron says:


    If you’re submitting articles properly written (keyword in title, first paragraph, etc.) you should be seeing at least some traffic. I wouldn’t rely on the article site’s numbers as an accurate measure. I use a redirect on one of my 2 resource box links so I can track click myself. Regarding “nofollow”, my experience is page rank not passed (everyone knows this) but anchor text relevance seems to be passed. Either way, any link from a high PR page is certainly worthwhile.

  24. Peter says:

    One of the cool things about article directories is that your profile can actually get some PR juice, and that is something that many people do not think about.

    My main question is this: What article directories did you guys use other than ezinearticles, articlesbase, and goarticles? Also, did you do manual or automated submissions?

  25. Beth says:

    I largely agree with Travis’s comments above: While nofollow links certainly do not give you the same link-juice as their dofollow counterpart, I can still say with confidence that no-follow links are necessary, and can still give you an excellent boost in the search engines.

  26. David Jenyns says:

    Hi Jonathan and Elysia,

    That was a very interesting challenge indeed. 🙂

    It goes to show that doing SEO isn’t just a one time activity. Even if you already have a good content to show, it will always be more challenging to do off page optimization to get those quality links pointing to your site.

    What works in my opinion is to keep track of the progress of building backlinks, find the top referring keywords( work on 10 keywords at a time) and find where those keywords rank using a rank tracking software. Then we start to focus on keywords that are on page one but not in position #1. Do the same thing every month and you are on your way to see a great improvement of keyword’s rankings on the SERPs.