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Archive for November, 2010

Article Spinning – Spin like a pro

Monday, November 15th, 2010

In my review of the “Free Traffic System” (FTS), I recommended spinning manually your articles before submitting them through FTS or through any other article submission program. And I promised to share with you some advance spinning tips. This blog post is divided into two parts:

1. Why manual spinning is superior to an automated spinning program.

2. Exactly what to do to manually spin an article – my advanced spinning tips.

For those who are new to this topic, let me quickly review what spinning is. Those already in the know can skip to the first sub-heading below.

The [spin]beautiful|wonderful[/spin] thing about [spin]nature|outdoors[/spin] is the fresh feeling you get.

The sentence above is, technically, four different sentences. When this sentence is fed through an article submitter that recognizes spin code (This is the particular syntax used in FTS, but the principle is universal), it comes out as four different “unique” sentences at four different article directories or blogs:
The wonderful thing about outdoors is the fresh feeling you get.
The wonderful thing about nature is the fresh feeling you get.
The beautiful thing about outdoors is the fresh feeling you get.
The beautiful thing about nature is the fresh feeling you get.

The math is simple: two words, each with two options, creates 4 “unique” sentences. The value in this is to ensure that the hundreds of articles pointing back to your site are not duplicate content, which is supposed to be frowned upon by the search engines’ algorithms. Try this one:

The [spin]beautiful|wonderful|amazing[/spin] thing about [spin]nature|outdoors[/spin] is the fresh feeling you get.

Two words multiplied by three options gives 6 “unique” sentences. Why do I put “unique” in quotation marks? That’s in the next section, but the theory of spinning leads to the conclusion that you are getting past whatever duplicate content filter the search engines might place on the pages linking back to your website. One more…

The [spin]beautiful|wonderful|amazing[/spin] thing about [spin]nature|outdoors[/spin] is the fresh [spin]feeling|sensation[/spin] you get. A [spin]holiday|vacation|trip[/spin] out of doors will [spin]refresh|relax|reinvigorate|benefit[/spin] you more than you can [spin]imagine|dream[/spin].

The concept of article spinning, just to belabour the point one more time, holds that just with this one paragraph spun as above, there will be 192 “unique” articles (3x2x2x2x4x2) on 192 websites, each one pointing links back to your website.

That is spinning in a nutshell.

Why bother spinning articles manually?

Before I dive into the benefits of manually spinning, as opposed to using one of the automated or semi-automated article spinners on the market, a big CAVEAT: This is a strategic issue. This is not a rule. Follow my logic, then make your decision, because there are trade-offs involved. Trade-offs of quantity versus quality. Trade-offs of long term results versus crash-and-burn-results. With a bonus of risk assessment thrown in for good measure.

Article spinning: the story so far…

A) Once upon a time, people would submit articles to the article directories. To both of them, in fact. Search engines loved these content-based links, and all was good.

B) Then, people got smart. Because these were good links that helped sites rank better, more people started writing more articles and more article directories sprang up. Search engines loved these content-based links, and all was good.

C) But people loved these more and more and more and more and the number of articles was multiplying and multiplying and people got even more clever and created submission software so that even more articles could be distributed in a fraction of the time. Ah, the miracle of automation.

And spammers just love miracles and they love automation. Ah, the curse of automation!

This would be a good time to refresh your memory of what search engines are all about. Which is, of course, making money. To make money, they need eyeballs. To keep eyeballs, they need lots of people really liking the search results they deliver, which is why they have meticulously crafted and carefully guarded algorithms. Do they care if people try to maipulate their results? Not really. Do they care if people succeed at manipulating their results? You bet! Let’s look at the three steps above from a search engine company’s perspective:

A) So what?

B) So what?

C) Wait a second, massive link-building can skew our results. Automation makes link-building scalable, especially to spammers, and needs to be balanced out of our algorithms.

And so, the effectiveness of duplicate content in article submissions was (as best we can determine through the observation of thousands) reduced to very little.

A) So people started manually spinning their articles to avoid duplicate content.

B) And some smart person came up with a lazy way to spin, using automation.

C) Spammers, being inherently lazy, caught wind of this as did everyone else, and now everybody is spinning their articles using automation.

And the search engines’ reactions?

A) So what?

B) So what?

C) Wait a second, massivearticle-spinning can skew our results. Automation makes article-spinning scalable, especially to spammers, and needs to be balanced out of our algorithms.

We don’t know if C) has happened yet or whether it’s on its way, but I can tell you with 99.9% certainty that it is not far away.

At this point, I know that some readers who are using automated spinning programs will dispute this, typically saying, “Well, it’s worked for me so far.” I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have heard this line about one link-building technique or another shortly before the search engines have taken step C. Before webmaster forums are filled with the gnashing of teeth from all the people whose websites lost rankings. If you want to build your rankings based on the past (as most people who call themselves “SEO expert” seem to), you can stop reading here.

What I can tell you about the past is that one pattern has proven enduring, and that is the same pattern as you will see in the stock market: when everyone is rushing to buy, that is the time to sell (before the crash). When a particular linking method becomes so scalable through automation that even the spammers are doing it, stop sinking more resources into it.

Let us look, then, more specifically at automated article spinning. It does offer a very seductive advantage over manual spinning. It can be done quickly. In fact, a typical testimonial for article spinning software would be, “It took me minutes to do what it used to take me all day.” So you can do 5-10 articles in the time it takes to do one. The advantage is quantity.

But does it give quality? The very simple spinning examples I gave above in my intro all replace single words with synonyms. Here is a screenshot pitching one popular automated article spinner program:

synonyms

They create “unique” articles, but do they create unique articles. Well, I guess if you can’t find a thesaurus, they create hundreds of unique articles. But what if Google and Bing have thesauruses? What if megalithic Google’s and Bing’s computing power, funded by millions of dollars of capital, is somehow bigger than the computing power of your little $70 article spinning software? Sure, unlikely…but what if? Let’s face it, those four sentences I used as an example in my introduction are not unique – they use synonyms, but they remain the same sentence…and any algorithm drawing data from a thesaurus can see that faster than you or I can.

So quality versus quantity. And when the search engines do devalue duplicate content links with the help of a simple thesaurus, it becomes long-term results versus crash-and-burn results, as all those “unique” links you’ve built are suddenly worth less (not necessarily worhtless, but worth less).

But I also mentioned risk assessment earlier. So let’s imagine for a moment that a search engine sees that you have 573 identical articles pointing to your site. Let’s further imagine that the search engine has identified that these are not organically identical, but identical by virtue of synonym manipulation. In other words, duplicate content, disguised as non-duplicate content to try to trick the search engines. If there is one thing we know about Google (and I can only surmise it is likewise with Bing), is that is punishes blatant attempts to trick it – hidden text, doorway pages, concealed links. Perhaps also fake unique articles?

I leave it to you to determine whether Google would consider this deceptive and whether they would do something about it – whether automated article spinning is just poor quality work or whether it actually places your website at risk.

How to manually spin your article

To do what I would consider a quality spin, you need to create articles that are significantly different. By significant, I mean more than just replacing words with their synonyms. In the extreme, this means writing from scratch a brand new article for each place it appears. Yup, one for each of those 573 article directories. Look up the word “unique” in the dictionary.

For those of us who don’t have 1500 hours in a day, the extreme option is not an option. Below is my guide to what I believe is effective in creating articles that are unique, rather than just “unique” with what I view as a reasonable amount of grunt work. Who knows if I am being paranoid or just over-cautious — or perhaps I am not creating articles that are unique enough and these might still be seen as duplicate by a search algorithm. Take what you want and leave the rest.

The title is the most important part of the article to make unique, as it often appears in <title> tags, in a page’s URL, in <H> tags and in links to the page. This is the one place where I’ll sit down and write 100 options from scratch, trying for many variations of style.

Because I am partially lazy, I usually start out with a few styles, such as:

6 ways to enjoy your villa rental
Why a villa rental is tops in accommodation
Villa or hotel?
Choose a vacation villa over a hotel or motel
Six reasons villas are tops
The villa choice for luxury

Then I will rewrite each one, mixing up several elements. For instance, here are some rewrites of the first style:

Six reasons to enjoy your rental villa
Six ways to enjoy your vacation rental villa
6 reasons to enjoy your private villa rental
Six ways to enjoy your private vacation villa
6 ways to enjoy your private rental villa

The first sentence is pretty important, so I tend to write 3 or 4 versions of it in completely different styles…

When you use your credit card, it would be worth stopping to remember that credit card issuers are businesses with shareholders.

Who issues your credit card? A business, of course.

Some folks view credit card issuers almost like quasi-government institutions. Not a chance. They are businesses like any others.

Notice that I totally reworded the first sentence. Each example sets up the second sentence equally well, but notice that the three options are different length, even different number of sentences and, of course, totally different wording. These are completely unique. Mix up not just individual words, but the sentence structure itself.

Do the same for entire paragraphs. Take a paragraph, then rewrite it so that it is shorter. Then rewrite it so that it is two paragraphs. Use some of the same wording if you are feeling rushed or lazy, but remember that the more you change the better.

At least once in your article, rewrite a long paragraph as a short paragraph followed by a bullet list. It helps to create a few versions of the list, changing the order of the bullets and even removing some of them in some versions. Bullet lists are often the easiest to play around with.

When rewriting a word, don’t always choose a single word as a replacement option. For example…

When rewriting a word, don’t always choose a single word as a [spin]replacement option|replacement|replacement option in your article|replacement option, but try to add in more text so that some versions of the article are truly different and unique[/spin].

When creating options, more is better. In 5. above, the example has four options, much better than two. There is a time versus uniqueness trade-off here, but if you can create more than just two or three options, especially in the first few paragraphs, it helps make your articles more unique.

Let’s end with one of the most important places to have variation – your linked text. As much variation around your keywords as possible…but you probably already know that from other link-building efforts. Vary the actually links (link to different pages of your website in different versions, if appropriate), vary the link text, very the surrounding text and vary the order of your links (in some, the home page might be the first link, so make it the second link in others).

Nothing I have had to say here should be taken as “The Truth”. It is my best assessment of the most effective compromise between various trade-offs, based on my experience in SEO since 2003. I just hope it is helpful for people who might seek a similar balance between quantity and quality…and don’t want their “Yippee!”s turn into wailing at the next major algorithm shake-up.

 


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