If you follow copyright or related keywords on Twitter, you’ve probably been seeing a decent amount of Twitter spam related to a series of “Spinner” apps (I am not linking to any of them in this article) that promise to, among other things, protect your content from being misused.
The problem is that these applications do nothing of the sort. Not only are the creators of this product (it appears to be one product for different platforms) spamming Twitter, but the product they are using is more likely to be used for the purpose of misusing content than ever protecting it.
The reason is because of the way spinning applications work, what they actually do and the market they are actually targeted for.
To explain that, we have to take a deeper look at spinning applications and how they work.
What Spinning Is
The idea behind content spinning is very simple. In the English language, most words have synonyms that mean something similar, though not necessarily the exact same thing. Thus, by using combinations of synonyms, you can spin the same section of content into several unique items.
Take for example this simple sentence:
The cat rode on the boat.
If we add synonyms for “cat”, “rode” and “boat” we can get several different variations including:
The feline used the ship.
The tabby floated on the trawler.
the calico sailed on the vessel.
You can also get about a dozen other sentences using combinations of those three synonyms. For example:
The tabby sailed on the ship.
The feline floated on the vessel.
Ect. Etc. Etc.
Every one of these sentences mean roughly the same thing, but by replacing a few words with close synonyms, they appear to be unique.
If you apply this over the course of an entire article, say a 500 word post, you can get thousands of iterations the same work, each of which are unique to both the reader and to the search engines.
The latter audience is the reason most use spinning software. Due to the way search engines detect duplicate content, most would not be able to see any measurable similarity between the sentences above. In short, spinning allows you to take one article and covert it into thousands of new ones, each of which, in the eyes of Google, will be relatively unique.
The problem with spinning is that it rarely results in good writing. When we create a post, we usually choose what we feel are the best words among the synonyms. Altering those words, either automatically using a thesaurus, which may spinners do, or by hand, as the ones above do, results in lower-quality words being used.
This actually turns away human visitors and, for the most part, makes spinning only useful for for spam operations. It’s a fast, easy way to create thousands of low quality, but unique, pages for Google.
Why it won’t Help
Spinning won’t help anyone protect their content. According to the marketing material, these spinning apps can assist by letting you quickly rewrite an article or produce multiple versions of it in the event it is lifted. So, for example, if a scraper were to grab this article, I could just spin it, repost it and the damage is negated.
This has three major problems. First, rather than dealing with the infringement, either through legal means or by simply producing more content and trouncing the copycat the search results, you’re giving them the better version of the content and the keywords that came with it. Second, even if you don’t concede the original and keep it up, you’re now spamming Google with thinly veiled duplicate content. If it is detected, it will be dealt with.
The biggest problem is that, if you want to rewrite an article to avoid duplicate content issues, you can do so easily without the aid of a spinner program. The effort required to set up an article for spinning is only justified if you plan on creating dozens, hundreds or thousands of variations of it.
In short, it is only useful if you plan on spamming.
Why Spinning is Bad NewsI
Spammers love spinning programs because it lets them take a very small amount of original content and turn it into enough to fill many sites. However, search engines hate it because it doesn’t add a significant amount of original content to the index but is difficult to detect as duplicate.
Content creators worry about it because it is a way for spammers to use their content that will likely both avoid detection and outnumber the original content many times over. Since spammers usually leave keywords intact when spinning a post, some have found themselves competing with poorly-reworded copies of their own entries and articles in results critical to their brand.
If those who use spinners either use their own content or articles where such use is permitted, such as public domain content, then they are only gaming the search engines. However, many do seem to base their articles on work that has been written by others, especially legitimate sites in their desired spam field.
In short, these apps, which are being advertised via Twitter spam, are for the purpose of generating Web spam. Though their marketing claims other benefits, there is only one practical use for these tools, generating thousands of near-duplicate articles to fool the search engines.
It is that simple.
The good news in all of this is that Webmasters do not have a great deal to fear from spinning spam. Though it has been on the rise for years now, it has proved to be a fairly ineffective form of spamming.
The reason, from what I have gathered, is that even though you can create thousands of articles from one, the time it takes to set up an article for such spinning is prohibitive. It requires a great deal of work on the front end, especially if the application doesn’t have a thesaurus.
The bigger reason, however, seems to be that these types of articles, due to their dubious quality, don’t seem to attract many links. As such, the search engines don’t take much notice of them.
Still, it is important for Webmasters to be aware that this is going on and to be looking out for it. The good news is that, if it is detected, it is an infringement the same as if it were verbatim, as it is a derivative work (unless an ordinary observer could not tell that one was based on the other).
The fact that these products are now being marketed as means of preventing content theft might be a sign that they have not performed well in the spamming world. With easier, cheaper and more effective techniques for generating Web spam, it doesn’t seem as if these spinning programs are a good deal in any regard, especially at the prices they routinely command.