Got a question in my E-Commerce SEO Checklist post from Rania, who didn’t leave me a link for credit.

“4. Steal your competitors articles and product reviews and do article distribution.”

You recommend STEALING articles from competitors as an advanced SEO tactic?! Seriously?!

How about recommending that users create their own unique content in order to increase their site traffic and ranking.

Suggesting that people steal competitors work really says a lot about you- and your company.

Good luck.

I know you’re only trying to make a point but I’ll accept the question anyway.

Why would I steal my competitors articles for article distribution instead of writing/sharing my own?

The answer is much more than a time or ethics response.

1. Unnecessary Competition
A typical article distribution involves submitting to around 1-5k worth of article directories and E-zines. Any time you submit the same piece of content to that many sites it creates unnecessary competition. This is especially true if your site is new. The article directories and ezines are old, your site is new. They win. While they usually won’t take you out on the primary keywords especially with your site linked in the article, they can snag a lot of unknown positions in your longtail and mediumtailed phrases pushing your site down and losing you an unknown bit of long term traffic. This can go all the way up to a worse case scenario. Last year when Acai Berry was a hot niche a lot of people were seoing for the term and many did article distributions. While their sites never made it into the top 10, the articles they submitted came closer. So when Google did some manual reviews and bitch slapped a bunch of rebill promoters and affiliate pages on the term most of what was left was the articles. All ranking and for awhile there while everyone else readjusted left a bunch of article directories taking all that good traffic. The first thing the article directory owners did of course was edit the articles and take out the links to the authors websites and throw in their own affiliate links. Lesson learned, but that brings us to point two.

2. Don’t Do It Unless Others Are
ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE IN A SMALL NICHE! God damn, I see people do this all the time. They find a nice little niche with nearly zero competition and in the miniscule effort they have to put into ranking they realize the only way they know how to build backlinks is to article submit. They get flooded out and cry. Uhhg. The point is, same as point one. Don’t do it unless others are. I follow the rule outlined in SEO Empire, if you want to win Match and Exceed. If it becomes a problem for you to maintain your ranking, then submit where they submit and a bit more. So don’t submit unless you have to, but if you do make sure you…

3. Submit Your Competitors Articles Only
All those same articles on thousands of sites creates a massive duplicate content penalty opportunity. So the worst choice you can make is to go through the articles published on your site and submit them. In the middle of the bad choices spectrum would be to write unique articles and submit those. Unique articles are for pulling in seo traffic and thus they belong on your site and preferably nowhere else. You throw little fits when people steal your content, why would you willingly give it out? The wisest choice is to submit your competitors articles because if you’re going to put anyone at risk for duplicate content you might as well put them not yourself. I’ve always said, there’s two ways to rank: You going up or them going down. I own about 170 article directories as part of my basement. I understand how the article game is played. People aren’t submitting articles to my sites because they want my directory to be the best smelling turd around. They want the links. I want the pages of content for link laundering and they want the links, that is what its all about and nothing more. No one owes me unique articles, nor is it doing them any favors to give them to me.

Hope that clears up the game rules for you Rania, sorry its not advanced, but there’s good reasons for everything we do. Please understand, I don’t tell people to be evil just because I enjoy watching them be evil (even though I do). There is always some form of risk whenever you are. Yet never hesitate to be evil when its a sink or swim situation, always match and exceed.