Just Say No to Content SpinningLet’s cut to the chase. Content spinning is bad. Bad! If you’re currently doing it, stop. If you’re thinking about doing it, don’t. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then read on.

What Is Content Spinning?

Back in the olden days (well, the mid-late 1990s), search engine algorithms were relatively simple. Unfortunately, the results were also quite easy to skew, and unscrupulous webmasters were quick to take advantage. Later search engines began using more complex criteria (such as inbound links or keyword density) to organize and rank their results. However, these methods were also subject to abuse.

Eventually, the leading search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo) began using incredibly complex algorithms that considered more than 200 separate factors when ranking websites. Gaming the results was no longer a simple matter. Content had become king.

For many webmasters, this meant working hard to create quality content that would engage visitors, generate traffic, and build credibility. For others, this meant flinging prodigious amounts of poo at the internet in the hopes that something would stick. And thus was born content spinning.

But What *Is* Content Spinning?

When it comes to ranking websites, duplicate content has long been a no-no. Even before Google declared outright war on it in 2011 (with Panda), they would still filter duplicate content out of their search results. If people wanted their websites to rank, they had to come up with unique content. The problem is that writing is hard work. It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours (or even days) to write a decent article or blog post.

Content spinning is a shortcut for folks who value quantity over quality. Basically, the process uses software to “rewrite” an article so that it appears different enough to fool the search engines. And by “rewrite,” I mean it replaces words with synonyms with little regard for actual meaning. Some of the more sophisticated programs can tweak sentence structure or replace entire phrases as well, but the results still come off a bit… well, odd.

A lot of folks see content spinning as a way to get more mileage out of their original content. This is a bad idea from an internet marketing perspective, but it’s an understandable mistake. Like I said, writing is hard work!

The truly insidious are the ones who use it to pilfer other people’s content in the hopes of skirting through Google’s duplicate content filters (and those pesky internet plagiarism laws).

A Real Life Example

A couple of years ago, I was doing some freelance writing work that required me to research countertop roll-up doors. Yes, sometimes freelance writing can be a truly glamorous field. Anyway, in the course of my research, I ran across this interesting factoid from Commercial Door Company:

Countertop roll-up doors stow away in a cylindrical canister when open, minimizing overhead interference.

That’s a nice, reasonable sentence, right? Apparently somebody else thought so and decided to steal it for their own. A few minutes later, I stumbled across this tidbit on Squidoo:

Table roll-up doors put apart in the cylindrical tube the moment opened, decreasing the queen’s disturbance.

The Squidoo article was quite entertaining to read, but it no longer shows up in Google’s results. Which leads me to my next point…

Content Spinning Does Not Work

Content spinning is a bad strategy for many, many reasons. Here are three of them.

  • Google hates it. Google famously declared war on poor content with their Panda update in 2011. Since then, Panda has been tweaked and updated on a regular basis and Google’s algorithm has become quite adept at detecting spun content. Google has also made it their mission to crack down on blog networks that share low quality, duplicate content.
  • It isn’t socially viable. Social signals have become a prominent ranking factor over the last few years, with Google using +1s, Likes, and other criteria to serve up personalized search results. I’ll admit there’s some entertainment value in reading an article that refers to “overhead interference” as “the queen’s disturbance,” but nobody’s going to share, like, or comment positively on a poorly-written, semi-literate article.
  • It’s just awful writing. People who still think SEO means gaming the search results are missing the big picture. Clicks don’t mean a thing if people aren’t engaged by your content. So even if there is some spun content out there sophisticated enough to fool the search engines, it won’t be able to fool the humans who will eventually read the article. The altered version just comes out wrong, like pod-people or non-alcoholic beer.

Don’t Spin. Recycle!

After you put all that work into your article, it’s only natural you’d want to get as much use out of it as you can. But there’s no reason to stoop to the level of content spinning. There are a lot of legitimate ways you can repurpose your content and present it to your audience as something new.

Or as the content spinners would say…

After you put all that work into your article, its just common you’d need to receive to the extent that in return as you can. At the same time there’s no motivation to stoop to the level of substance turning. There are a ton of real ways you can repurpose your substance and present it to your group of onlookers as something new.