An article directory is a website that contains a collection of user submitted articles written about various subjects.
There is usually no barrier to who can submit content to these directories, though some will insist that the content is unique and not ‘spun’, and also often have a minimum number of words requirement. Articles usually are assigned ‘tags’ upon submission, giving the article directory some level of grouping and categorisation similar to a web directory.
Articles are sometimes subject to moderation, though the quality threshold needed for approval historically has been very low.
Usually article directories allow submitters to include an author box with their article which includes a link back to the ‘authors’ website. These author boxes usually have a very clear footprint with the same author information used over and over again. These links are often use commercial anchor text and point to commercial landing pages.
Links within articles
Many directories also allow the inclusion of links within the article itself. These links usually use commercial anchor text and point to commercial landing pages.
Articles directories have been used to generate links on mass in a similar manner to how web directories have been abused. Most article directories have been created simply with the intention to manipulate SERPs via the placement of authority passing links.
Article directories have now been devalued by Google and hold no positive SERP benefit. Links placed within articles within article directories should be removed and/or disavowed.