I know it’s a primitive topic – it’s refrained from being talked about, (at least in reputable SEO circles, anyway); it is spoken of only in hushed whispers, in dingy corners of the web, where only the black hat SEOs lurk. Okay, let’s cut the drama. I’ll tell you why I am writing about it now!
One of customers is planning to revamp their website. They are smart guys, and understand that website redesign is more than just aesthetics. They know that the content should complement the design to really appeal to humans and search engines alike. So, reworking the content is a part of their redesign plan. Smart move!
However, as they began to analyze their existing content, they hit a little roadblock. The content that needs rework is quite a bit, and we all know that creating great content is not an overnight job. They were therefore debating article spinning using Robot Spinners – you know the online thesaurus powered tools that reword content that you feed into them.
They wanted to know if that was a wise idea!
Yea I know, if you hear closely, you can hear a million content marketers yelling a resounding “no” in the background. (Many of whom may have actually done their bit to clutter the already overflowing content junk-yard).
Before I handle the question at hand, let’s look at what article spinning is, and what’s fundamentally wrong with that.
So, what is Article Spinning?
For all you goodie goodies, who haven’t even heard the word (although, I don’t know how that’s possible), article spinners are tools that are used to generate multiple variants of one original article.
What’s wrong with that, you ask?
If you have been around the world of SEO long enough, it’s apparent what’s fundamentally wrong with that definition. Here it goes:
1. The aim of the new contextual SEO also gets beat from this purpose. Search query for “apple juice” would in this case return one original article and 100 clones that provide no new information to the searcher (If it worked; though it really won’t, thanks to the wrath of Google’s panda that penalized many sites with low-quality spun content). Go Google!
2. In many cases, it’s unethical as well, because many people spin content off their competitors’ websites to create their own. Not good, lazy marketers, not good! Getting inspired is great – “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”, Einstein said. Great advice, but believe me, this is not how you wanna to do it.
3. It most definitely contributes to all the content clutter that’s already there in the web junkyard, because these articles lack any kind of thought leadership. Earlier this year, this brilliant presentation spoke volumes about the content deluge, and without a doubt, automated article spinning is the worst way to add to the clutter in web-space.
4. You are doing it only for the bots, not for humans; this goes against Google’s definition of quality content. In the process, you would end up losing respect in the eyes of your readers, who would otherwise have loved you for thought leadership in your original article, and Google, who’s a smarter robot police than your article spinning tools.
5. Won’t really work, especially with all the content directories like Ezine, HubPages etc. already penalized by Panda. So, it’s really not the safest choice for quick link-building any more.
I really did not answer the question at hand, did I! Here it goes.
Answering the Question – Should you Use Article Spinning, even for Ethical Reasons?
So, our customers weren’t really looking at article spinning for link-building, or plagiarism. They just wanted to revamp their old content. So even with all my reservations, I decided to give Article Spinners a shot before giving them a feedback on their plan.
It got really funny.
A couple of minutes on a few free ones, and free trials of a few paid ones, and I was in splits.
Reason – I felt pretty close to doing what Joey did in his recommendation letter for Chandler and Monica to the Adoption Agency with all synonyms being thrown in my face, most of the times failing the context of the sentence or the paragraph. Now, just for the love of FRIENDS, this was the conversation:
Now, you gotta love Joey, but you know that this time, allying with Joey is not the right way to go.
To be fair, there were a few tools that gave me options of synonyms to choose. See, there you go; the ones that could add some actual value are the ones that would use some “human” effort. Doesn’t this sum it all?
Let’s move past my rant; this is the advice I ended up giving them, and would give to anyone else looking to use article spinning to rework their content during a website redesign:
1. Have your in-house team do the work: the results would be much more human. To be clear, they are a travel business and human connection is very important for them to stand out amidst competition. This would also give you an opportunity to look at the content from SEO perspective, and you can naturally include relevant contextual keywords for the different pages that you are working on. For this, you would need to do a proper keyword research before you begin the work, so that you have a clear idea of what to focus on.
2. Use Freelancers: If you do not have an in-house team, use freelance writers from ODesk or Freelancer.com to do the rework.
3. DIY: If you can spare the time (I know it would be very hard), do it yourself.
4. Use Article Spinning, but with human intervention: As a last resort, if you completely lack the resources to do it yourself, or hire a freelancer, you “can” use content spinners, but a human editor. You can choose to do the editing yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. This is absolutely necessary, because just using a content spinner might even change the context of your content.
For those of you, who would decide to go this way, following are a few of the tools that I tried; there can be better ones out there, but these are the ones that I know of:
a) Chimp Rewriter: This is a paid article spinning tool, with a free trial. This is one of those that allowed me to spin the content, with some context intact, but it would need quite a bit of manual input from your end, so be prepared for that.
b) Content Professor is another paid one that seemed okay.
c) All the online forums that I checked seemed to be promoting the Best Spinner. So, that’s worth checking out as well.
d) Above listed are all paid; one free one that at least returned correctly worded sentences is Spin Bot.
I hope I haven’t offended a lot of copywriters with these recommendations, but I hope it’s clear that I don’t stand by the practice. And if you absolutely have to, strictly use it for your own content, not to copy stuff from your competition, nor link-building.
(Saying this for your own benefit – maybe if you have black-hat SEO ninjas aiding you, you would be able to pull it off – for sometime – otherwise “NOT”, and to be clear, there aren’t many out there, and even if there are – Big Brother is watching you!)
What’s your take on article spinning – Have you ever been tempted to move to the dark side?