Content Marketing and SEO CheatingOver the years Kuno has published blog posts, guides and whitepapers documenting black hat inbound marketing tactics and why they should be avoided. One that we’ve failed to mention is called article spinning. This is a tactic by which the perpetrator attempts to take an already existing piece of content and rewrites it in a way to fool the search engines into thinking it is original content. This can be done manually or, in egregious cases, automated with software.

Automated Article Spinning

When software is used the resulting content is a basterdized version of the original, when read makes little sense, and horrifically offends the English language. The software used can automatically pull in content from the web or RSS feeds. Individual words are randomly replaced with synonyms while others are mashed together to form new nonsensical words.

The spinners take care not to replace or mess with the words in the content they consider keywords. Many brands and writers are instinctually insulted when they realize they’ve been spun.  The below is an example of automated article spinning and its victim.

Automated Spun Article

Article Spinning Black Hat

Original Article

Original Spun Article

How to React

Instead of pursuing the perpetrator to take the content down consider ignoring it. The only exception is if the content is muddying-up search engine results pages with garbage links for the brand. Why should the spun content generally be ignored? The Google Panda algorithm update is specifically designed to identify and punish these types of tactics.

If the content isn’t marked as duplicate it will certainly be marked as lacking quality. Both of which will hurt the spun content’s ability to rank well. If Google Panda doesn’t mark the content as poor it still represents a brand signal on the Internet for the victim. According to SEOmoz, brand signals account for up to seven percent of a website’s ability to rank. This means that the bogus spun content could, in theory, actually help the victim’s website rank better.

Why Would Someone Use Article Spinning?

On-page SEO & Content Marketing – Perpetrators of this tactic wish to make their websites appear to publish lots of fresh keyword-rich content on a regular basis. If they can accomplish this Google might reward the website by ranking it well.

Off-page SEO – Some perpetrators may use this black hat tactic in conjunction with a link farm. They may have a couple hundred fake websites all containing the same keywords and linking to each other in some fashion. This is an attempt to grow the page rank for each website by sharing link juice across the farm. Typically, the cheaters try to concentrate the link juice to one primary real website in the body of the spun content.

Advertising or Affiliate Income – Some are just in it for the money. Article spinning is a way for cheaters to create a whole bunch of content with the intent of improving website traffic. More website traffic increases the potential number of clicks on ads and affiliate links.


Trying to avoid the hard work of content marketing and SEO by deploying black hat cheat tactics is not a good idea. Sure, these tactics may have worked two years ago, but in today’s post Panda world they are destined to fail. Writing good quality problem solving or thought leader type content is the best way to rank well and will power any virtuous content marketing strategy. Keep doing the right thing and ignore the cheaters among us. For help with content marketing, SEO and SMO download our Blog Post Optimization Playbook.

Image:  Yoshi2000