Chances are, if you have a website, you’ve been approached by companies offering to improve your website traffic. Maybe they’ve promised superior results over the competition because their ‘secret sauce recipe’ ensures you’ll gain from their linking strategy. “Don’t worry,” they whisper, “we have off-site techniques that drive more traffic to your website, but we can’t tell you what they are because it’s a secret.”

Maybe you’ve seen ads for article spinning that promise to turn one original article into hundreds of different articles, with the ‘right’ keywords to drive significant traffic to your website. Don’t you believe it! Those secret off-site linking techniques and article spinning are scams that are going to cost you revenue, rankings, and your reputation.

What is article spinning?

For the uninitiated, article spinning is a cheat, a shortcut which uses software to take one article, changes a few words here and there and then claims that the results are different articles that can be submitted to multiple websites. Unscrupulous companies may not use the software: they may simply assign hack writers to take a single article and clone it into hundreds of versions, all with the same content. Either way, what’s being submitted to sites like ezine and other article portals is essentially a tired and uninspired rehash of the first version.

Why is article spinning a bad idea?

Google, as the big dog, aims to help users find content that is authoritative, trustworthy and of high value. The recent Penguin update had major initiatives to reward sites that use fresh, trustworthy content, demoted sites with poor or low-quality content and turned a sharp eye on linking strategies that serve no contextual purpose other than as spam. Their goal, when they return results for your query, is that the good stuff gets the high-value real estate on page 1 and the junk gets relegated to the end of the line. One variable that enters into the equation to determine what is high- versus low-quality content is whether or not the article is original or merely a duplicate of another somewhere else on the Net. Google has internal rules about returning duplicate results, not only for the content, but from the same URL. Thus the minor changes to articles meant to spam the Net with duplicates is going to backfire when Google indexes the various sites.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that Google won’t notice! Their search spiders are smart enough to disregard stop words, words that readers need but that don’t really add to the content and are the most common, words like “the,” “she” and “some.” The irony is that most article spinning programs target stop words for replacement purposes leaving the key words, literally, unchanged.

What’s the solution?

As we like to say at EVG, “content is king” and you’ll be better off if you use your resources to create fresh, original content that directly meets the needs of your consumers. Keep track of your articles and check to make sure that others aren’t ripping you off by stealing, or scraping, your content and repackaging it as theirs. Choose where and when you post something on a second or third site. Ask yourself if the duplication is worth the likely return.

The bottom line is that there are no shortcuts when you want to create a website that has a stellar reputation for trustworthy content. While it takes effort and resources, those who practice ‘white hat’ SEO know that there’s no secret sauce out there that can take the place of honest, effective writing, even if we have to craft it one word at a time.

Kathleen Gossman – Project Manager

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