Automatic Content Generation and Other Shady Web Practices

I'm going to spin this article SO hard it's going to barf all over the internet.

I was recently looking through some job listings at a freelance writing site when I noticed a few odd things. The first was the ridiculous amount of articles some businesses were asking for, along with that was the incredibly low wage offered for the job. The second thing was the use of words like “content generation” and “article spinning.”

I had no idea what all of this meant, but when I started seeing jobs requiring 2,000 articles for $1,500 I thought something shady had to be afoot. At my current pace, it would take me about 40 years to reach that 2,000 article requirement.

Now, I would not say I am a full-time writer by any means. I don’t even know if I would call myself a part-time writer. Casual maybe, but still there is no way anyone can write  that many articles for that little money in any kind of time frame. But, they could generate them.

Content Generators

After a bit of research, I have decided that content generators do basically the same thing as 7th graders doing research papers. Find an article, change some words around, hand it in and call it your own. Don’t get  me wrong, in 7th grade this was perfectly acceptable, but it doesn’t seem so innocent in the professional world.

I must admit that when I first saw a demo video on how these things worked, I was actually a little taken aback. I automatically assumed that these things were used for the sole purpose of “spinning” other peoples articles to create “unique” articles to call your own, either to post on your own web page or to sell to others. But, at the end of the demo video, something caught my ear.

This particular content generator, “The Best Spinner”, has what’s called an article index. Basically what the article index does is allow you to both post your articles, and download other people articles that have done that same, to be respun and republished “as long as you keep the links intact.” At first I didn’t realize why anyone would do this. Why write something and then give it out to thousands of people to reuse? I thought the whole point of having a website was to have unique content that no one else had, so why would you want to essentially dilute your original content?

Deeper Into the Rabbit Hole

That’s when I came across services that offered thousands of page views and things called “back links” and, of course, riches beyond your wildest dreams. That didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me either. So I delved deeper and came across things like “link farms” (basically a bunch of web sites that all link back and forth from each other) and search engine optimization and everything made sense.

Essentially, one way search engines rank sites is by the amount of links on other sites that refer to them (aka back links). So, by using these different tools to distribute content to be reproduced by perhaps hundreds or thousands of other people, as long as they keep the links, they are creating back links to increase their own ranking on search engines. A higher ranking generally equals more traffic which equals more ad revenue. Essentially it’s creating back links by throwing link-laden material all over the net as opposed to earning them by being a reputable source of information that other legitimate web sites link to in order to further peoples knowledge on a subject.

So, I have discovered a shady world filled with unethical practices driven by, what else than, making money without actually doing work. The good thing is that these things are becoming less effective with the advent of more complex search engine ranking algorithms. They now give more weight to back links with relevant content as opposed to just raw numbers. Also, it’s allegedly possible to be penalized in search engine rankings if you have a lot of duplicate work, so things are looking up.

Conclusion

I’ll admit that one reason I write is for some extra cash, but I also enjoy being able to share what I know, and hopefully entertain someone down along the way. It saddens me a little bit to think people do article spinning and content generating. I’m sure some probably make quite a bit of money off it by either stealing someones content and reproducing it as their own, or reproducing a few articles and polluting the internet with reproductions in hopes to easily rise in the ranks.

Have I totally come down on the wrong part of some of these tools and services? Does anyone out there see something that I’ve missed? If so, by all means let me know in the comments.