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Will Article Spinning Help Your SEO Efforts Or Kill Your Site?

Shi Ming
By Shi Ming on May 21st, 2010

Marketing Intern, clickTRUE. Passionate about learning and exchanging ideas on online marketing. Loves to share stories and experiences gained through hands-on website-building and marketing campaigns. Likes music too!

in Search Engine Optimisation | 9 Comments

Over the years, content-spamming has been called many names (e.g. article spinning, article cloning, content scraping, etc.), but call it what you will, it is still what it is – spam.

Yet, despite warnings against it, there are still many people willing to give it a shot, hoping to receive some short-term gains. In fact, a simple search for “article spinning software’ on Google yields a whooping 2+ million results. Albeit not all of the resulting sites are paddling article spinning software, it still goes to show how popular this seo trick remains.


So What Exactly Is Article Spinning?

For those of you who do not know what article spinning is, don’t worry about it, it’d probably be best to stay away from it anyway. But just for discussion’s sake, let’s take a look at how Wikipedia defines it:

Article spinning is a search engine optimization technique by which blog or website owners attempt to manipulate their rank on Google and other search engines. It works by rewriting existing articles, or parts of articles, and replacing elements to avoid being penalized in the Search Engine Results pages (SERP) for using duplicate content. The original articles are often plagiarized from other websites and can often also be copyright infringements if the original article was used without the copyright owner’s permission.

Nowadays, there is a myriad of software and websites claiming the ability to duplicate content in different ways, but the end results remain the same – taking an existing article, change/move some parts of it, and then republish it somewhere else, hopefully getting some backlinks in the process.


What Are The Effects Of Article Spinning?

Seeing how many sites are still continuing with this practice, the question remains – does it really work?

As search engines like Google get smarter, it becomes increasingly difficult to fool them. These improvements in algorithms are in line with the search engines’ aim to bring the best and most relevant results to their users.

After all, would you be happy if every time you search for a term, the results turn out to be the same, rewritten versions of a single piece of content? Hence, if users are not satisfied with the results given, they’d stop using the search engine, and without users, companies would cease to advertise on them, cutting off their revenue stream.

From here, it is not difficult to see why search engines would work against content duplication and article spinning. With hundreds of brilliant computer scientists dedicating themselves to improving the search results, do you think it’d be worth the effort to try and out-wit them?

Do you really want to work against them?


How Article Spinning Can Backfire

The screenshots below are examples of what could happen if you violate the search engines’ terms:

blocked page - firefox

blocked page - chrome

Do you think you would want to enter these sites?

While these are worst case scenarios, it really could happen if your site continues to rely on black-hat tactics like article-spinning. In fact, even the “lighter” penalties by the search engines (e.g. de-indexing or lowering of rankings) are enough to drastically set back your online marketing efforts, rendering all your previous hard work useless.


If Article Spinning Is So Bad, Why Are There Still So Many ‘SEO’ Companies Using It?

Money.

That’s all there is to it.

These ‘mercenary’ type so-called ‘SEO’ companies will accept your payment and fulfill your campaigns using ‘black-hat’ techniques like article spinning, hoping to get some quick results, all so that they can ‘legally’ cheat you of your money. These companies don’t care if your site gets banned in the future, or if it gets de-listed from the search engines, so long as they get their paycheck.

This kind of activity totally disrespects your work and is a practice that we absolutely do not condone.


If Article Spinning Is Out, What CAN I Do?

Well, there are plenty of other legitimate techniques that you can use.

For a start, instead of working against the search engines, why not work together with them by providing useful content and building relevant links? Of course this is over-simplifying things, but there are many white-hat SEO techniques that you can use to genuinely improve your rankings, and they don’t have to be hard.

Don’t know where to start? Why not go through some of the best practices and useful resources available? These free insights will help you to get a clearer picture on how to go about optimizing your site, without having to worry about getting penalized.

Then again, if you find that to be too much work and rather focus on building your business, you can always get someone else to do it for you. Just make sure you choose the right people so you can have the peace of mind.


Conclusion

Sooner or later, article spinning will be squashed by the search engines (just like how the problem with keyword stuffing and hidden texts were solved years ago).  So, don’t waste your time on it, there are far better ways to optimize your site and attract genuine traffic that will truly benefit your business.



9 Responses to “Will Article Spinning Help Your SEO Efforts Or Kill Your Site?”

  1. Fouad says:

    I agree with you article spinning is user Spamming and it should be penalize.

    original article content should be encouraged. however, SE should not penalize duplicate content and should solve this problem through similar result icon beside the first content.

  2. Shi Ming says:

    Hi Fouad, thanks for your input.

    Actually, search engines don’t usually ‘penalize’ duplicated content as severely as those described in the post.

    (But it is definitely possible if there are copyright or other legal infringements, especially if they receive an official DMCA takedown notice.)

    What they do instead, is place the duplicated content in their supplemental index (which either shows up WAY back in the results, or doesn’t show up at all).

    Also, Google already has a ‘similar’ link under each result. But very very few people actually click on it (my guess is that most of those who do are likely just doing some seo research, and that many people probably don’t even know it exists).

    Still, neither of them sounds very appealing.

  3. Larry Lim says:

    You shouldn’t “scare” the public with such bold claims. Article spinning can be legitimate and useful for SEO.

    If Google so easily penalizes duplicate content, then many online press release and article websites on the Internet would’ve been deindexed by now.

    Did you know that there’s a uniqueness threshold that may pass a spinned article to be unique, i.e. even pass Copyscape?

    What about spinning your OWN articles to be accepted in multiple article directories? Is that so wrong?

    But what do I know, I’m just a humble, freelance SEO :)

  4. [...] writing this article in response to clickTRUE’s blog post on article spinning being bad and their advice for people to NOT do it. clickTRUE is an online [...]

  5. Shi Ming says:

    Hi Larry,

    You are definitely not ‘just a humble, freelance SEO’. I’ve read your blog and accolades, and it really is a pleasure to have you here. :)

    We do however, differ in certain opinions, so please pardon the long comment as I clarify some points.

    Firstly, to get things straight, the post wasn’t written to ‘scare’ anyone, but rather to warn them of the possible side-effects of black-hat seo tactics.

    Indeed, as mentioned in my comment above, search engines usually don’t ‘penalize’ duplicate content. But they rarely rank them well – which is bad enough. (It is also illegal to plagiarize other people’s content and it CAN get the site de-listed. So I believe it is fair warning for people considering using article spinning to claim copyrighted material as their own.)

    The next point then, is why and how article spinning is done. Is it to truly provide value to the readers, or simply to game the search engines? There is a reason why search engines and article directories are working to filter out duplicated content and the question is whether we want to work against them, or work with them to provide genuine value to the web.

    Also, in your comment above, you mentioned about spinning our own content. While this is definitely not illegal, the question again is, why? If it’s just to increase exposure for the article so that more people can benefit from it, why is there a need to spin it? Why not just post the original work to the different directories? After all you did put all the best thoughts into it, so why not let the readers have the best version? (There are of course directories that don’t wish to accept duplicated articles, which again brings us back to the previouse point.) If both the engines and directories don’t wand duplicated content, isn’t article spinning simply trying to ‘fool’ or ‘cheat’ them? Although there are smarter article spinner software nowadays, Google is getting smarter too. Is article spinning really beneficial in the long run?

    There are exceptions of course. If the content is rewritten so that that it communicates the information from another angle, and helps different users understand the concepts, then I’m all for it. Other exceptions include re-writing the content to make it clearer or insert additional points. However, this is not what most people mean when they search for article spinning. Most people are looking instead for a ‘fast and easy’ way to get backlinks by spamming article directories, which is what I’m warning against.

    With regards to copyscape and Google’s duplicate filter, they do indeed have their own acceptable thresholds, and there are software that can help to change an article so that it passes the threshold. But the problem is that many of these software generate gibberish at worst, and mediocre readings at best. (If you happen to know one that produces really well-written re-writes, feel free to share it here. I’d love to test out its capabilities.) Even then, a responsible user would still need to proof-read and edit each of these copies in order to ensure its standard (which is time-consuming), and not simply mass-submit them to directories like how many people are currently doing.

    Please note that I’m not knocking article marketing in general, but rather the act of using article spinning as a way to cheat the engines, or worse yet, to plagiarize other people’s content. The main aim of this post is therefore to steer people away from article spinning software/firms that use unethical ways to gain SERP.

    Also, this is not meant to impose any ideas on anyone. Instead I’m merely sharing the best practices that I myself adhere to.

    Hope this helps to clear things up. :)

    P.S. Given your experience in SEO, can you offer some case studies and results of both using and not using article spinning (setting other variables aside)? Please also point out any points that I might have missed out or overlooked.

    Thanks for your time.

    -Shi Ming

  6. Larry Lim says:

    I’m not sure if your response is quite correct because after all, the subject of your blog post IS about article spinning and SEO – not about article marketing in general or the ethical aspects of spinning.

    And I think I’ve illustrated quite clearly how to use article spinning legitimately to obtain backlinks for SEO.

    It’s a necessary evil that is required to get your article accepted by the editors and get indexed by Google.

    Perhaps, you should think at a more macro level, i.e. not put spinned content only on your own site but instead, on external sites – this way there’s absolutely no risk in getting your own website penalized. Some SEOs use article spinning this way to build linkwheels.

    I’m not going to list my spinned articles but if you, Gino or Jackie want to have a look, feel free to email me for an example list.

    I assure you they are highly-readable and not gibberish :)

  7. Sam Donna says:

    I’ve never tried article spinning but I know a lot of people doing this for years and never heard of google having problems with it. If the spinning becomes problem in the future something else will take it over. As simple as that.

  8. Shi Ming says:

    Here’s a quick follow up on the post.

    First, a related article from HubPages: http://om.ly/ldMc

    And here’s the other side of the story from Larry: http://om.ly/ldMd

    From here we can see that the term “Article Spinning” covers a wide spectrum of practice, from the outright scraping of other people’s content, to detailed customizations that can take up to hours and hours of work.

    So a simple baseline is this:

    Is the resulting article a piece of unique and relevant content? Does it provide value for the reader and the search engines? Is it driving value to your business?

    If ever unsure, please check out Google’s Guidelines again: http://om.ly/ldMe

    @Sam: Thanks for your comments. :)

  9. Richard Bell says:

    Tell me an seo / link building technique that is going to get any kind of decent results that isn’t black hat?

    Sure, you can go and submit unique articles/press releases till the cows come home but it’s not going to get your client anywhere in the serps – and then you’ve lost a client.

    Linkbait i hear you say? sure, it may go viral, get you a bunch of links, but you’ve still done this with the sole intention of getting backlinks, and even then 99% of the backlinks the link bait generates won’t contain the anchor text you need to rank for your term.

    Please tell me a non-blackhat method, I’d love to know..

    Richard

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