Recently I wrote an article discussing the merits of using free reprint articles on your website to increase your search engine ranking. (The article explained how Google loves lots of content on your site, how it loves that content to be regularly updated, and how you can get lots of keyword rich content for your site, absolutely free. See
A few days after publishing, I received a 'please help' email from Loren, a small business owner. Her website is all about glass and she wanted some clarification on some of the points I made in my previous article. Loren's questions were good ones, and the answers important, so I thought I'd publish them.
Q: We have a site for glass art. From your article, I gather that if I create an articles page with free reprint articles (written by other people) containing 'glass art' type keywords, I'll get higher search rankings for those keywords? Is that correct? If so, what page comes up in the rankings? The article itself or my Home page? Also, if the article is being used by other webmasters, won't the search results also include their version of the article?
A: In answer to your first question, yes, having an articles page with keyword rich free reprint articles generally has the effect of increasing your ranking. Google thinks highly of sites with a lot of helpful content, but it all comes down to whether other webmasters do as well. If your site contains heaps of helpful content about glass art, other webmasters in the glass art field (be they suppliers, distributors, or competitors) will be inclined to link to you simply because that link implies (to their customers) an association with you. That association boosts their credibility because you're obviously an authority in the field. It also may help their own search engine ranking a little as Google will then see them as part of an expert, credible community of sites (although the benefits of this for the linking site are minimal and arguable). So, in a roundabout way, I'm saying that yes, article-based content can help your ranking, but only if it increases the likelihood that other related sites will link to yours.
As to the question of which page (the article itself or your home page) displays in search results, that really depends on which page has the most links to it*. If you have an article which is just THE BEST source of info in the industry, and everyone's linking to it, that page will display in the search results. This is good because people who click on this result are interested specifically in the content of the article. So when your website displays, they get the information they want, and they'll be pleased. And assuming your navigation is clear and easy to use, it is likely they'll at least visit your home page.
And finally, yes, if other sites have published the same article, they may display in the results alongside you. The same is true of the original author's website. But it's important to remember that, generally, the site with the highest PR will rank highest in the results, and it's this site that most users will visit. You just need to work hard to make sure that's you! For an example of how this works, do a search for a very specific term related to the article of mine which you've obviously read. Search Google worldwide for "Google's love affair with content" (including the quotes). You'll notice that the no.1 result is actually a page on EzineArticles.com which contains my article. The page on my site (DivineWrite.com) containing the article only ranks no.2. This is because EzineArticles.com has a higher PR than DivineWrite.com, and overall, the keywords are considered more relevant to the rest of the content on their site than they are to mine. Obviously, this means that a good article can display several times in the same search results, but that's ok - it simply adds to the perceived authority of the article and the sites containing it.
* Above I say that the page that displays in the results will be the one with the most links to it. There are some complicating factors here. For instance, the text in a link plays a big part in how effective that link is. A link to your site that says "Click here" or "check this site out", won't do you as much good as a link which says "Glass Art sales" or "glass art creator". So if lots of people are linking to the page containing the article, but the text in their links is generic, then that page may not rank as highly as a page with fewer - more keyword rich - links pointing to it. Of course, this assumes that both pages are equally well optimized for search engines and for the same keyword phrases.
I know that the above is a very specific question and the answer is full of ifs and buts, but hopefully this exchange will answer a few questions for a few people.