Article spinning involves getting content written as cheaply and quickly as possible, either by a person or by software. But it can cost you a lot more in the long run.
Remember the early days of the old Babel Fish translator? When you amused yourself during an otherwise boring workday by typing something in, translating it into Chinese then back into English, and laughing at the mangled semi-coherent sentence that came out as a result?
No? That was just me?
Anyway, I was reminded of it recently when reading about article spinning, a practice that’s popped up in content farms over the last few years, and how those writers toiling away for a couple of cents a word are now being replaced by even cheaper software which substitutes chosen synonyms for words within an original article.
You can see what the writers of the software were thinking. A computer is far more efficient than a person at choosing rapidly from a thesaurus to produce articles that can, at least for now, fool search engine crawlers into thinking they’re original. But you can’t help but think that any article that gets spun enough becomes the kind of incoherent gibberish that the Babel Fish translator used to spew out.
There are three good reasons why article spinning is going to cost you a lot more than you think in the long run.
Reason 1: Articles are read by human beings too
Remember why you want good search results? It’s to translate those clicks into sales. Even if you spin every bit of content you have every week to crawl to the top of page one on Google, people reading it will pick up if something not quite right.
Humans understand intrinsically that words are to stories what bricks are to houses—you never hear someone talking about “how lovely those bricks are” when they marvel over a house, even though the bricks are fundamental to its structure. Memorable, meaningful content is about so much more than the words used. There are skills, tips and tricks to creating high-quality, unique content. Ironically, it can still be done relatively quickly. But that’s a subject for another post.
Reason 2: Engineers who create search engines aren’t idiots
A spun article may not have the same words as the original, but it’s still the same story, the same structure, and as such, will be recognised by Google (and others) as synonymous content.
The nice folk at Google have been very vocal about what they’re trying to do with the magic algorithm that generates their search results—and that is to help users find high-quality content. They happily admit to constantly tweaking the algorithm to achieve this (most recently in the US in February, and then worldwide in April). These changes are designed to not rank sites that are just copies of other sites, or sites with poor-quality content.
Note that Google distinguishes between synonymous content and high quality content. The best—the very best—a spun article can be is synonymous content to the original. And the more you spin it (to make it look like something different), the less sense the actual article makes.
In other words, if you build your site with low-quality content, Google’s algorithm will eventually find you out and not rank you at all. So then you’ll have to repopulate all your content, which can turn out to be expensive. Far more expensive than you originally thought. It’s cheaper, and easier, in the long run to create unique content.
Reason 3: The law is not an ass
If your spinners don’t work properly—either your articles are spun by a lazy uni student, or a poorly programmed piece of software—you run the risk of infringing someone’s copyright. If you get caught doing this, of course the search engines will punish you, but the law may too. Especially in the US (but everywhere in the developed world), legal authorities are taking IP laws very seriously, and while there’s plenty of publicity given to kids who illegally download movies and games from the internet, the laws they’re breaking are the same copyright laws you may be if you haven’t spun the article enough.
‘Sure, but what are the odds we’ll get busted for that?’ you ask. Well, depends on who the original copyright owner is. Do you have the time to check the work of every spun article you have? And if you do have the time, you probably have the time to generate something unique anyway. So why not do it?