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What role do article submission directories play in SEO?

I'm interested what the consensus is on the likes of ezinearticles as a form of backlink building. There are a couple of similar questions here but given google's recent panda update apparently targeting article directory sites I'm not sure where this stands. I realise there are better backlinks, from established sites etc, however this is one approach that is consistently recommended around the internet.

My current situation is I'm at position 16 of google.com for a keyword with 2.6 million searches a month. I had intended this month to publish an article or two each day on ezinearticles then duplicate on a couple more but before I set upon this tedious task, would I be wasting my time?


From Search Engine Land's "A Look At Article Directories and Their Influence in Organic Rankings":

"...is submitting content to article directories still worth doing? ... Unless you are targeting extremely uncompetitive phrases, with disposable URLs, mass submission and blaster software, [it's] not worth the time and expense."

And that was in 2009 before Google's Panda/Farmer update, which is thought to place less weight on backlinks from suspected content farms and other low quality sources.

So it's not necessarily a complete waste of time; it may improve your ranking, but so might submitting the same articles as guest posts to respected blogs in your industry or relevant sister-industries. (I use Alltop to find industry-specific blogs.) At least that way, you'd be adding value and attracting an established audience with a genuine interest in your field (who may also blog about you), instead of attempting to game an algorithm and help content farms thrive.

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