Why You Should Never, Ever Spin An Article

Writing ToolsWriting can be pretty rough work, and putting together a piece of quality content that’s both properly search-optimized and valuable to the reader can be a very tall order.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could simply take a single good piece of content and turn it into a hundred pieces or more without having to put in any extra effort? Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of having to pay a hundred writers, you could simply pay one and sell the same piece a hundred times?

Actually, that’s entirely possible – and completely inadvisable.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk about content spinning. The term refers to a black hat SEO technique in which an author uses an application to rewrite their article thoroughly enough that search algorithms will register it as different from the original. Theoretically, this ensures that content can be re-submitted hundreds of times, either to one’s own site or to other venues – do it right, and you can avoid being penalized by Google for duplicate content.

Unfortunately, Google’s getting better at detecting spun content every day. Last year’s Panda update effectively crushed content spinning in blogs, and the Deepmind acquisition promises to make the organization’s algorithms considerably more intelligent – and likely even better at working out whether or not a marketer is a lazy sod.

Of course, even getting stuff past Google’s radar doesn’t change the fact that spun content will inevitably be of lower quality than anything produced organically.

See, most content spinning applications replace words and phrases with synonyms. Unfortunately, they don’t really have much of a grasp on the English language, so they’ve a troublesome tendency to vomit out garbled, nonsensical word salad instead of anything remotely workable. As an example, spinning the phrase “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog,” could easily result in something like “the express fawn fox plunged up the dull dog.”

Moderately amusing, sure. But workable in an online marketing context? Hardly. You might as well just hurl a thesaurus at your keyboard – you’d probably end up with the same results.

Not only that, because the quality of spun content is so much lower than organic content, it’s not going to resonate with the reader. That means it’s not going to generate as many social media shares, nor will it receive many incoming links. Given how important social networks have become to online marketing, this might well be the most damning indictment of the technique.

Okay. So it’s pretty obvious that automated spinning is bad, and you should never do it. But what about spinning an article manually? Is that alright?

Yes and no.

If you’re re-imagining it (or paying a writer to do so) in order for the content to appeal to a different/new audience or from a different perspective, that’s perfectly acceptable. Same deal if you’re changing the format of a piece – for example, if you’re republishing a blog post as a video. Then again, I’d argue none of these practices really constitute content spinning: they require the marketer to actually expend a bit of effort.

Writing can be tough work, particularly if you’re trying to optimize a piece so that it shows up in search. It can thus be quite difficult not to succumb to the temptation offered by black hat marketing techniques such as content spinning. The truth is, though? There’s no easy, one-click, sure-fire way to produce great content. If you think there is, you’re probably just creating more spam to clog up the arteries of the Internet.


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