Duplicate Content Can Seriously Damage Your Site Ranking
Article Spinning is an SEO practice that takes a piece of content and replaces words and phrases with synonyms to create multiple versions of the same article. This is normally done through the use of a program that understands synonyms, meanings, and grammar rules, so the end result appears to be a readable facsimile of the original content produced.
The creation of "spun content" is generally done to expand a presence on article directories, which get exposure and create links back to a main site. Many people also host spun content on their own websites in lieu of writing multiple pages of original content.
The creation of duplicate content is not generally recommended for the average website owner. Search engines have become more savvy with semantic recognition, and are increasingly able to spot text that has the same structure, whether it is on the same site or hundreds of article submission sites. Generally speaking, article submission sites have lost most of their SEO link value compared to a few years ago, and recent changes like the Mayday update are helping to filter out "junk" content that is created more for traffic and links than legitimate consumer use. One of the major issues that search engines have with spun content (which uses tools like Markov Text Generators) is that it is possible for computers to create thousands of low-quality pages that water down search engine results. Since a search engine wants to keep its credibility by delivering the best match possible, it will naturally find ways to detect text that uses these tricks.
In their heyday, article directories and spun content were used by affiliate marketers, SEO spammers, and people who were working to get traffic to their own sites. Article directories generally benefitted because they had a continuous source of new content, which can capture all kinds of aggregate keyword traffic, which in turn fuels advertising revenue by way of impressions and clicks. Therefore, allowing submission of multiple articles on similar topics was a boon to the directory, and early adopters of content submission often got to see their articles in print and got the secondary SEO/traffic benefit from a link to the actual site.
The idea behind article spinning is that you are creating original content by substituting words. Some of the smarter article spinning methods involve the creation of multiple original pieces, then swapping out specific paragraphs. For instance, you might create five versions of a five paragraph article, mix and match each article's paragraphs into multiple pieces, then spin the mixed pieces into hundreds of other derivative works. You could even use different spinning rules for different parts of each article. In this way, it would be more difficult for a search engine to discover that a piece was not 100% original. Unfortunately, the large scale use of this method, along with bulk submission to such article directories, means that the value of the directory is put into question and the content is less likely to rank at all.
For the average SEO client who is building a site for long-term rankings, spun content has a build in flaw. Even if search engines can't detect a well-spun piece of text today, they will likely be able to spot it in the future. Sites with huge page counts that employ such tactics are going to either be heavily penalized or removed from an index altogether. Replacing spun content with new material could be such an unfeasible proposition that the site could become completely unsalvageable based on your budget.
From a purely "white hat SEO" view, we always recommend the creation of 100% unique content. In the same way that you would fail a college course for submitting a plagiarized paper, you can get penalized in search engines for copying the same piece of content, even if you change it up. Furthermore, if you modify someone else's copyrighted content, you are running the risk of a lawsuit and/or DMCA takedown whereby your content is excised from the Google index and simultaneously reported to external sites like chillingeffects.org. The difference between content creation for the internet and college is that you can get away with paying other people to write your copy, and get people with SEO experience to put good keywords into your content that create a "theme" for your web site. At Web.com Search Agency we offer content writing solutions that are scalable for small sites and large enterprises, and the information will be unique to your site, so you don't have to worry about search engine penalties, lawsuits, and infamy on a medium that never forgets!
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About the Author:
Patrick Hare has been managing online and offline marketing projects since 1999. From 2005 to present, he has been with Scottsdale Arizona's Web.com Search Agency (formerly Submitawebsite). Patrick provides Search Engine Optimization and Marketing advice to in-house customers and Web.com Jacksonville’s web design group.
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