You may want to reconsider you SEO strategy if you're looking for links from directory pools, because this tactic is seen as spammy.

What’s the best way for companies to distribute their custom content across the web, and perhaps get some links the process? Not article directories. In the latest Google Webmaster Help Channel video, Search Engineer Matt Cutts tackles the subject of article directories and explains why they’re generally seen as pretty spammy and marketers might therefore want to avoid them to stay in the SEO safety zone.

“Over time, article directories have gotten a little bit of the worst name … In practice, what we’ve seen is this often tends to be a little bit of lower quality stuff. In fact, we’ve seen more and more instances where you end up with really kind of spammy content getting sprayed and syndicated across the entire web,” Cutts said.

Webmasters are warned to avoid spammy content marketing practices to keep the internet free of low-quality content.

This sounds like exactly the kind of practice Google works to eliminate because it’s primarily self-serving. It provides value to the content creator, but not necessarily the readers who are looking for original information. Not surprisingly, Cutts adds the search engine has methods in place to make sure publishers aren’t rewarded with ranking signals for bad article directory tactics. It’s become common for publishers to create content and include keyword rich anchor text with the intention of creating links back to their sites.

“We certainly have some algorithmic things that would mean that it’s a little less likely to be successful now than it was a few years ago.”

Google is making it clear that links should be earned and not created through strategic, but not necessarily natural sharing. Similarly, Cutts has made a strong case against marketers using guest blogging as their only link building strategy, specifically if they’re soliciting links for targeted keywords. Links should be editorially driven, meaning they’re used as citations for strong content.

Think you have bad links impacting your SEO success? Check out a recent Brafton blog post to learn how to weed out references that might be hurting your ranking signals.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.