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Article spinning is a search engine optimization (SEO) technique by which search engine optimizers post a unique version of relevant content on article directories, web 2.0 sites, or other sources for backlinks. It is occasionally used by website authors on their own sites but usually avoided because the quality of spun content will nearly always be lower than hand written content. Spinning works by rewriting existing articles, or parts of articles, and replacing specific words, phrases, sentences, or even entire paragraphs with any number of alternate versions to provide a slightly different variation with each spin. This process can be completely automated or rewritten manually. Many article marketers believe that article spinning helps avoid the feared penalties in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) for using duplicate content. The extent to which Google and other search engines can detect or devalue spun content is not clear. However, most uses of spun content are considered a black hat SEO spam practice. This is because most spun content is produced through automated methods and is considered human unreadable. Such content is only usable for mass posting on non-editorial sites purely for SEO; by definition, spam.
Article spinning requires "spintax." Spintax (or spin syntax) is the list of text, sentences, or synonyms that are embedded into an article. To create an article out of spintax, spinning software substitutes the desired synonym choices into the selected article in order to create a new, unique variation of the base article. However, because each article is created from the same set of spintax, each new spin of that article will be slightly less unique as the number of spins increases.
Automatic rewriting can change the meaning of a sentence through the use of words with similar but subtly different meaning to the original. For example, the word "picture" could be replaced by the word "image" or "photo." Thousands of word-for-word combinations are stored in either a text file or database thesaurus to draw from. This ensures that a large percentage of words are different from the original article. The problem with simple automatic writing is that it cannot recognize context or grammar in the use of words and phrases. For example, "Great Britain" could be auto spun to "Good Britain". While "good" could be considered a synonym for "great", "Good Britain" certainly does not have the same meaning as "Great Britain".
Because of the problems with automated spinning, website owners may pay writers to perform higher quality spinning manually. Writers may also spin their own articles, allowing them to sell the same articles with slight variations to a number of clients or to use the article for multiple purposes, for example as content and also for article marketing.
Plagiarism and Duplicate Content
If the original source articles are plagiarized from other websites or if the original article was used without the copyright owner's permission, such copyright infringements may result in the content poster facing a legal challenge, while writers producing multiple versions of their own original writing need not worry about such things.
Contrary to popular opinion, Google until 2010 did not penalize web sites that had duplicated content on them, but the advances in filtering techniques mean that duplicate content will rarely feature well in SERPS.  In 2010 and 2011, changes to Google's search algorithm targeting content farms aim to penalize sites containing significant duplicate content.
The duplication of web content may also break copyright law in many countries. See, for example, the United States Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Spinning can result in unidiomatic phrasing that no human writer would choose. Some may substitute a synonym with the wrong part of speech when encountering a word that can be used as either a noun or a verb, use an obscure word that is only used within very specific contexts, or improperly substitute proper nouns.
- Lasnik, Adam (2006-12-18). "Deftly dealing with duplicate content". Google Webmaster Central Blog. Google Inc. Archived from the original on 17 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-18.
- "Webmaster Help Centre: Little or no original content". Google Inc. Archived from the original on 26 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-18.