Article Spinning: Why It’ll Make You Dizzy

There are lots of different strategies when it comes to propagating SEO through content writing.  Like with most other powers in the world, content creation can be good or evil, and I’m almost hesitant to write about article spinning, lest it inspire somebody in the wrong direction.  However, if you’re new to the world of content creation, you’ll come up against this beast eventually; we may as well get the dubious introductions out of the way.

Article spinning is the practice of taking content and rewriting it.  This isn’t the same as repurposing content – which is a wonderful white-hat strategy for reusing the same information in many formats – but rather a very mechanical purpose whose only point is to diddle Google into thinking that you’re more of a resource than you are.  Article spinning: it’s nefarious, and you shouldn’t do it.

But What’s The Big Deal?

The entire point of article spinning is to get keyword-laden content out to the masses, fast.  The idea is that you write a single article, and then you can either plug it into specialty software or hand it off to a cheap writer who produces the exact same article again and again, just using different vocabulary.

The reason why so many companies engage in this practice is that it neatly helps skirt the non-duplicate content parameters laid out by Google.  It also is fast – if you take an article and run it through a spinner, you can have 27 different articles in a matter of seconds.  Even a roomful of monkeys with typewriters can’t compare to article spinning software.  (Either way, you won’t get Shakespeare.)

While both of these are good things in theory, the end result of the practice is bad where content marketing is concerned.  Sure, if you have the same article and you rewrite it 27 times using different words, Google might not notice.  However, Google is a machine.  Google is not who is looking at your products or services and deciding whether or not to buy.  That’s the human on the other end of the machine.  Unique content is not always good content – good content is content that informs, entertains, and sells.  You’ll need more than a vocabulary of synonyms to pack all that in.

Search engine optimization is not just about the machine.  It’s about the human, as well.  And, hey, if you give a human the same article written 27 times, they’ll likely be hip to your game by the time they get through the first line of the second article.  They won’t even read the next 25 articles.  In fact, they’re probably hitting the back button as we speak.

Aha, you say.  Well, those same 27 articles aren’t meant to sit on the same page.  Obviously, if you’re writing 27 of the same thing, you wouldn’t be so silly as to put them all in the same place.  This is what article directories are for.  Article directories are places where companies submit various articles,with backlinks to their sites – the backlink on the article directory helps link juice, and often other website owners will use content from the article directories on their own website.

Well, I did speak a little bit about the dubious practice of article marketing in my content primer series, which is a good place to start if you’re unfamiliar with the practice.  While article marketing used to be considered an unsullied good in the land of SEO, now it’s definitely exchanged its white hat for a gray one.  Possibly even black, in some cases.  Why?  For a great explanation on the subject, check out David Wood’s blog on how article spinning ruined article directories.

Basically, back in the day, article directories were easy to submit to and almost everything got accepted.  When article spinning became vogue, these directories got filled with spun content.  Google didn’t mind, since the content technically wasn’t duplicated.  Marketers caught on.  Websites spun content until they were dizzy with it.

Article directories soon filled up with, well, crap.  While the Google algorithm might not have noticed, it didn’t take too long for the actual humans who staff Google to notice.  When Google realized that their search engine results were chock-full of the same article written 27 times (or 27,000 times, as the case may be), the article directories got slapped.  All article directory owners now had to actually police the content of their directories, and page rank plummeted.

In the modern day, the surviving article directories have cleaned up their act.  However, article marketing still remains tainted with the memory and the practice has never really fully recovered – this is why I tend to recommend that my clients stay away from it.

The Moral of the Story

To not mince words: if you pump out crap content marketing, your results will eventually be crap.  All of the companies who spent time and money on producing 27 articles on the same thing and submitting them over and over to article directories ended up getting nowhere in the long run – when Google penalized the article directories, the sites that had their SEO riding high on those directories fell in the rankings, as well.

SEO is not an overnight process, and neither is content marketing.  If you want your results with SEO to be long-lasting and stable, you’ll have to put on the white hat and get that traffic and Google recognition the old-fashioned way – with hard-hitting content that has reasonable keyword density and good information that actually entertains the consumer.  We know – it sounds like work, and it is.  But as the fabled story of article marketing shows – there’s no such thing as a free lunch!


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Laura Hancock is a co-owner of She has also been a long time writer for us. She writes with a passion for accuracy and flow. While her administrative duties have grown, she is a still a big piece of our content writing services team! Currently pursuing a certification in Technical Writing at the University of Washington. She lives in Seattle. +Laura Hancock

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