In the small article directory that I run I've seen a lot of articles that are submitted purely for the backlink(s) that are added to an article's resource box.Undoubtedly, this is due to the fact that it is easier and cheaper to get material, typically Private Label Rights (PLR) articles, to use to create articles.
Articles are still an important part of any online marketing plan, so there is nothing inherently wrong with this - although, in the case of PLR material, it should always be used correctly. However, in my opinion, any author doing this purely for the backlink, regardless of the topic of the article and its' relevance to the website being linked to from the resource box, is failing to take advantage of potentially valuable traffic or customers. The only possible benefit from such off-topic links is their potential effect in improving search engine rankings.
Is This a Bad Thing?
In itself, no, better rankings mean more traffic. This is how you can possibly lose out.
A substantial amount, and probably the majority, of traffic to articles, no matter where they are published, comes from people using search engines to search for a specific topic. After typing the keywords or phrases they are searching for into the search engine, they will be given a list of possible results.
Say they are interested in "snowboarding" and click a result that takes them to the author's article on the subject. After finding the article interesting and informative, they get to the bottom of it and check the resource box for links to more information on the subject. In the resource box, they don't find any links to snowboarding articles or sites, but instead a link to a site selling mobile ringtones. The article reader is very unlikely to be interested in this, as they were searching for information on snowboarding, not downloading stuff for their mobile. There are three outcomes that could possibly happen next.
- They leave the site and return to the search engine.
- They click on a site link to a related article.
- They click on a contextual ad, such as Google Adsense.
No matter what, they are unlikely to click the link in the resource box, which loses the author an interested potential customer, probably for ever.
You don't need to get rid of the link back to your site from the resource box. The majority of places you will publish an article allow more than one link though, and allowing four links is not uncommon. Use one of those to link to something actually on the subject being written about. Putting it at the start of the resource box so the customer sees it before they lose interest is a good idea also.
I don't have anything on the subject being written about on my site!
You can always add something related to the subject, such as an article directory and add a link in the resource box asking the reader to click to read more articles on the subject. Or you could add a web directory, and point the link at a relevant category. Or, using affiliate programs such as ClickBank or Amazon, find a relevant product or search and generate a link to it. Use that link in your resource box, and suggest that the reader can buy a related product by clicking it. Using a cloaked or redirected link to protect your sale is a good idea here also.
Your article still has that link to your site you were originally after. You now also have increased the possibility of making money from a reader who was interested in the subject being written about, but wasn't interested in the site you're promoting. Not only have you improved the chances of making more money from every reader, you also now look less like someone who has simply bought content, no matter how irrelevant, to promote their site and simply gain another backlink. You also will look more professional, so why not spend a bit of time making proper use of your resource box.