Using article directories, sometimes called article marketing, is among the easiest and most common ways of building backlinks to your website. They are not quite as powerful as they used to be after the Google Panda update, but good quality article directories can still provide decent backlinks if done correctly. The main factor is to provide good contextual content for the backlink, which means that it isn't just a link randomly inserted on a page, but rather is in the midst of associated text where it would make sense to be. Contextual links are generally considered to be among the most powerful.
There are many others, but those are just a few to get you started.
The rules for each article directory are different, so you will need to read their rules and be sure you place your backlinks properly for that site. Many directories only permit placing a backlink in the author's bio information or resource area for the article, or at the end of the article.
It's much easier than you might think to get started in article marketing, since all you have to do is write about things that you already know about. And if you are at a lack of ideas, you can always see what's recent in the news or find things that other people are - or are not - writing about. Sometimes it's easy to hop on the bandwagon of what's trending, but in the long run it's best to find an unmet need and fill it because you are now providing value and solutions that nobody else is.
TITLE & META INFO
If you operate a bakery and your Keyword is “bakery in New York”, you might write an article called “Why Does Everyone Love These 10 Sourdough Breads?” and then, in your resource box in the article site, write it as “Looking for a local bakery in New York? Susan James runs the Bistro Bakery, an upscale bakery on 43rd Street. She is a graduate of Such-and-Such Culinary School and has been baking since she was 8.” The keyword “bakery in New York” is the anchor text that will be hyperlinked to your main website.
Whether you write your own articles or outsource the writing to a professional writer, each route has pro's and cons. As the subject matter expert in your field, you're ideally suited to decide what an article could/should be about and make sure the content is technically correct. The advantage to using a writer is that it saves you time, but you need to be sure that anything they write for you is something you feel comfortable talking about. In other words, don't ever have someone write an article about a topic you know nothing about, since people might ask you about it. If you aren't a writer, though - and many people aren't - there's nothing wrong with taking your idea for an article and letting someone else do the word-magic to make it read well. Just be sure the overall tone and character represents you and your business.
Re-using existing content is one the best ways to optimize your use of time and money, but you need to do so correctly or you can be penalized. Ideally, you want any articles to be first published on your website and indexed by the search engines, before you ever put them in article directories. The reason for this is that although having the same content on different sites isn't necessarily bad - consider news websites with the same stories, for example - original content gets higher authority than this syndicated content. You always want your website to be seen as the #1 authority source, not the article directory. Another common technique to help avoid the syndicated content issue is to rewrite your article. You can either do this manually, pay someone to do it, or use automated software to "spin" your content, although most such software still requires manual editing afterward to make it sound natural.
AFTER THE ARTICLE
Finally, after you write and publish your article, think about how you can re-use this information such as creating a video about it, or turning a collection of related articles into a book. In fact this approach is very popular, and the idea is to first map out the table of contents of your book, write and publish articles on each section to build your online presence, and then once the articles are all done, come back and bundle it all up as a book which you can either sell or offer on your website to help create authority for your brand.
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