Choosing an article marketing service is a mostly hit-or-miss affair, unfortunately, because there is no way to evaluate their worth prior to signing on and paying your dues for a few months, depending on the competitiveness of the keyword you're trying to win. No service will reveal its network of websites because that would set up its network for failure. Not only will competitors know about how it works, but search engines like Google will blacklist its sites, refusing to index them for trying to game the system.

So without being able to see the equipment, so to speak, how could you decide which one is right for your business? By biting the proverbial bullet, of course. It's as simple, and as unfortunate, as that.

Simple, because all you do is sign up for a few months and see what happens. There is nothing to mull over on your part, nothing to analyze, as if picking stocks or following corporate earnings reports. Unfortunate, because all you do is sign up for a few months and see what happens - and repeat with each of them until you find the one right for you. Or your money runs out, whichever comes first.

Don't let anyone tell you any different. That's how they all work. The only distinguishing feature would be the quality, the strength, of their network of websites. But there's no absolutely no way - none whatsoever - to find out beforehand. And even then, you can never really be sure; without seeing that list of sites and being able to evaluate each one's own page rank and other such web metrics, there's no telling whether your money is really well spent. It's like the old advertising joke: you know you're wasting half of your money on the stuff - you just don't know which half!

And don't bother with word-of-mouth referrals, either. Not too much, anyway. Unless your source is a particularly trusted one, like somebody you'd put in charge of your money, don't bother - because that's exactly what you're doing by listening to his or her advice, allowing them to direct where your money should go. The online forums are full of guerilla marketers, people who pose as disinterested third-parties that just happen to offer spectacularly glowing reviews of a company (or disarming aw-shucks honest-to-Goodness reviews that seem to bristle with truth and kindness).

But it's not all that bleak, however. Depending on how competitive your keywords are, and how competitive your industry is in general, especially online, you may not have to spend a lot of money finding out just which article marketing service works for you. When the time comes, you simply have to give it a shot.

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