Submit Your Articles: Guidelines for getting the most out of article syndication: "You only have so much time each day to spend getting the most out of your efforts. Simply submitting articles to a huge list of directories expecting large amounts of links and traffic to come your way in the coming weeks is a loser’s bet.
Most people are doing this now, but you should have enough information here to avoid making that mistake yourself. Hit the big directories and don’t waste your time with the small fry. You can save yourself more time to write more content and syndicate it as well by skipping the ineffective article directories that are nothing more than content ghost towns."
While early advice said to submit to hundreds of article directories, recent writers I've found say that only submitting to a handful of the very best (remember Pareto's Principle?) would accomplish more than all that hard work to hundreds.
In my early research (I stopped writing articles to edit and publish nearly another two dozen books), I found that many of these sites were poorly run and gave errors all over the place. The key sites, found through looking up top article directories by survey, gave me real value - such as telling me whether someone looked up my link from that article.
My own list became about six. Now that I'm back into working out the marketing (for those two dozen books and more), I'm looking up what people say about these directories and how to use them. And there's a substantial gap which only a few people seem to know about, even though people use opt-in boxes every day themselves.
Now, the first scene is Pareto's Principle - which also equates to really understanding the Long Tail and Bell Curve. Pareto pointed out that 80% of your production comes from 20% of your staff. Now, if you take this on down, you'll find that 64% of the overall production is handled by 1.6% of your staff.
Out of 100 potential article directories, you will find 20 really producing the bulk of the work. So it's not surprising that out of 300 directories I got with an article submission program, I settled on 6 - and several weren't even listed in the program!
Now this doesn't necessarily mean that your niche is represented in those directories. But if you are writing for the most popular niches (like I write mostly in Self-Improvement) then this is pretty useful.
You'll also see that the above is the natural shakedown of the Internet, and the Long Tail again raises it's head - only the biggest and best-linked will show up on top when you search for Article Directories in Google. (Or "top article directories".)
The great thing is that original, honest content is continuing to be top on search engines. So this means that the best SEO you can do right now is to write articles that are useful.