It is generally understood that duplicate content on a website page, that is to say content which has been simply copied and pasted from another source, is something that just shouldn’t happen. Firstly, plagiarists can get into a lot of trouble; rightly so, for stealing someone else’s work. Secondly, there is the school of thought which believes that Google punishes web pages which contain duplicate content, and there is a significant body of evidence in support of this.
But there are lots of different ways of expressing the same idea by using different words. There is no copyright on ideas, and if there was it would be interesting to see attempts to enforce it. As a writer of both original content and rewritten content for websites, I’m often presented by clients with an existing web page (or simply given a URL to look at) and told to rewrite it to match the tone of their own websites.
I’ve noticed that there is a lot of confusion about what this actually means. In particular, many people are confused between the purpose and execution of rewriting an article and the act of “spinning” an article.
So I thought I’d write a short but detailed piece on the difference between article spinning and article rewriting (or content spinning and content rewriting, as it is sometimes known). This was prompted by several enquiries I’ve had recently from clients who appeared to be asking for the properties of one but actually requesting the other.
Article spinning and article rewriting are not the same thing. But it is perhaps no surprise that some people get the two mixed up because of the ambiguity within the content industry itself. It also certainly doesn’t help matters that at least one major content spinning application calls itself a rewriter, and not a spinner! (Chimp Rewriter is definitely a content spinning application.)
Article spinning is a service you would use if you wanted to have your content (or anyone’s content, since the final, unique results should all be plagiarism free by virtue of passing Copyscape) rewritten as several unique versions of the original text. You may wish to use these different and unique articles to distribute and publish on a number of social media sites and document sharing sites, both Doc and PDF, and possibly even article directories.
There are of course dozens, if not hundreds, of these available, where you could get your unique content published for people to read. The advantages of doing this are twofold. Firstly, with a link back to your own website you will get a lot of interested visitors to your site that come directly from the unique article or social media post. Secondly, the backlinks derived from this will be very useful for SEO purposes, although “nofollow” links would be less so, as they will putatively carry no domain authority or value (but not worthless, because they do have some SEO value in that they will, helpfully, simulate the randomness of natural linking, which always impresses Google).
With spinning you would manually work on an original article within the disciplined setting of a content spinning software application in order to produce dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands, of unique and perfectly readable articles. I stress that this should be a manual task. It would be time consuming and it could only reasonably be done by a native English speaker who is attuned to the nuances of the language and who has a very discriminating eye (and ear) for detail. Anything else would not be readable and anything else would not be unique.
In fact, anything other than an expert manual spinning process will be neither readable nor unique, and will produce only nonsense which could not be read out loud (always a good test) and which would only hold your brand up to ridicule. Never, ever, opt for a service which uses the software in automated spin mode. (There is always an ‘auto’ mode available, presumably for speed and intended for web pages which do not require to be actually read, such as third or fourth tier content fodder created only for the links they carry forward to the next tier up). You should use the spinning platform in order to create the “spintax” which is needed to create the unique articles when they are output, usually to a zip file, in all their uniqueness at the very end of the process.
But I stress that you should ONLY use a manual process. And only by an articulate native speaker who has experience in making spun content seem completely natural and is well versed in the pitfalls of the whole procedure. Do anything else and you risk the reputation of your business by publishing rubbish and dispersing it all over the Internet.
It should also perhaps be made clear that no software is capable of satisfactorily creating different versions of an original piece of content, whether it calls itself a rewriter or a spinner. I recently saw what was advertised as the latest version of a well-known application which made claims of doing just that, because it was equipped with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. Needless to say, on trying this out, the claims proved invalid and bogus; the result was the usual mismatch of unreadable garbage.
The English language, in its use, is highly nuanced and idiomatic; it cannot be reverse-engineered by software, however much the makers claim to have the latest inbuilt AI wizardry. Such software will always fail; such software will always disappoint and require a refund.
The spinning process uses the skilful manipulation and substitution of words, phrases, sentences and sometimes whole paragraphs to produce variants of the same “seed” article which is both perfectly readable and completely unique. It does this by using “spintax” which instructs the output process to randomly, or every nth selection, substitute given words, phrases or sentences (or whole paragraphs) to a file and continue doing that for a given number of files.
The output, in theory, will consist of hundreds of perfectly readable and unique articles, all capable of passing the Copyscape test. Ideally they should all have the freshness as if they were each written on a different occasion to the next.
This works perfectly well, as it must, mathematically. But you must watch each stage of the process like a hawk. You must be skilled in this process for at least two years, discovered all the mistakes that can be made and the little traps so easy to trigger, learned not to make those easy errors which most people will never notice at first, but which become embarrassingly obvious when reading the result.
Because you cannot simply put your trust in synonyms alone. The English language is far too fickle and idiomatic for that. You do so at your peril. Sentences such as “the athlete’s foot kicked the ball at the goal mouth” is in danger of becoming “the fungal infection’s twelve inches maltreated the testicle in the achievement orifice”. Ouch! Well, I did warn you and it serves you right for auto-spinning. Because that is exactly the kind of dross you’ll get.
Article spinning takes skill and lots of careful time. That is why it is relatively expensive. If you only want a couple of articles (or three or four) then it is far more economical to get them rewritten and not spun. So do not ask someone to spin an article if you want it to be rewritten, and vice-versa.
Rewrite content if you only want one version, or three or four at the most; after that the strain on the ability to express the same thing in a different way will begin to show on even the most experienced rewriting professional. If you want dozens or hundreds of different and unique versions of the same idea, but which are all perfectly readable, that is when you should opt for spinning your content. The two are completely different and have a different skill set.
Rewriting articles is where the writer conveys the same sense and purpose of the article in a different way to the original and witgh completely different words, but with the same intent. It is written as a whole and not as a series of surgical subdivisions of sentences (as spinning is). It will read as if it had been created freshly and originally (because it has been exactly that), but there may be two (or up to four) different and discrete versions of it.
You should only ask expert professionals to do either of these things, so that the question becomes one of simple economics: what is the lowest cost per output article for the client? That, and only that, will determine whether you want your article spun or rewritten. The quality of the result should never be a consideration: quality must always be very high and that quality should not be up for question.
Not everyone can rewrite content, and not everyone can spin content to a degree which is satisfactory. In the end, the client only has himself or herself to blame if they ask for one when they really want the other, or if they get the wrong person to do it.
Gordo Shawbrook has been building websites since the last century and has written original content for more than 300. In addition to original writing he offers both content rewriting and content spinning services. His content writing service is at http://bit.ly/rewrite-content and his content spinning service is at http://bit.ly/article-spinning and both are available at very affordable rates on the Fiverr platform.