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Is There A Price To Be Paid For Article Spinning?

     
9:26 am on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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A colleague has a few sites that he has not been able to revive since being hit by Penguin. He has tried everything and nothing works… sound familiar?

We started talking about the possibility that perhaps at some time in the past, the sites might have tripped a “black hat” indicator, and if the action was unintentional, or due to topic ignorance, or has been overtaken by more recent influences, then the poor old webmaster is probably still unaware that there is an underlying problem that no amount of remakes and tinkering will fix.

This led us to the subject of article spinning and it turns out that about 6 years ago, when link volume was everything, several key money pages of these sites were indeed “spun” using a technique promoted by “leading” SEO company.

Although these sites have been withdrawn from the “spinner” company, and the account closed some time ago, there are still blogs out there that carry the spun content with the embedded links. Those links, when detected, are now in a disavowal file.

There is no doubt that links gained by spinning articles are really artificial and it would be easy to imagine they would be high on Google’s hit list. But would Google permanently derank sites for any such indiscretion?

Does anyone have any definitive or anecdotal evidence of sites being made to pay a heavy price for article spinning?
9:49 am on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I think that article spinning is a pretty severe transgression, and Google's likely to hit it pretty hard. I've never done it, so I can't comment specifically about what I've experienced.

On the other hand, there are certain kinds of pages that can be templated and automated, if not fully then partially, and I've seen those work out well, particularly if there's some partial human input... but that's not gibberish output.
5:07 pm on May 13, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I've never endorsed or used the practice of "spinning". A few sites asked for help and I have said "sorry" because I've never seen a site hit for that ever recover -- then again, that's only for sites I know about.

I suspect G never forgets ... or forgives.
4:44 pm on May 14, 2016 (gmt 0)

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But would Google permanently derank sites for any such indiscretion?


If your site gets highly ranked, and a manual reviewer sees the site has garbage text, you can bet something will happen to your site. Is it really worth it?
7:09 pm on May 14, 2016 (gmt 0)

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But would Google permanently derank sites for any such indiscretion?

Why not? Google owes nothing to the spinners, and users aren't likely to care if a spinner's site never again sees the light of day on a SERP.
6:49 am on May 15, 2016 (gmt 0)

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There is no doubt that links gained by spinning articles are really artificial and it would be easy to imagine they would be high on Google’s hit list. But would Google permanently derank sites for any such indiscretion?


Why would Google want to invest energy in what sites have done in the past when virtually everything they do is forward looking? If a disavow has been uploaded for the sites with the spun articles, then the spun articles should have no impact on the original site.

My personal theory on sites that have seemed to languish over 6-10 years is based on growth of the web. For one specific term I've followed, a Google search would show around 4 million pages indexed. Today, that same term shows around 100 million pages indexed. Even if only 100 pages out of the 96 million additional pages were competitive in the SERPs, that could knock an existing page down to a point where the page won't be readily visible to searchers.

In addition, consider the link graph and how it changes when you add 96 million pages that all have some topical relevance to a given query. If none of those pages have links to your properties, where are they linking to?
It certainly isn't as easy as it once was.
7:14 am on May 15, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Why would Google want to invest energy in what sites have done in the past when virtually everything they do is forward looking?

Because we know by empirical experience that g never forgets a utl it has met, has expended gianormous sums for ultrafast data collection and intends to index the whole world wide web, created the furry and feathered animals to smack down and all that other stuff.

Bet your bippy they never forget!

The only forward looking g does these days is how much more data they can accumulate! And monetize it. Can't make money on spun stuff, so it will be nuked.
7:52 am on May 15, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Google does seem to want to recrawl URLs it has seen before, but that doesn't really relate to indexing and ranking.

I have domains that index just fine, but there is also some pretty unsavory history for those domains.
With decent content, and some time, my experience has been Google looks more at "what is" rather than "what was".
1:00 pm on May 15, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Walt Hartwell wrote:
If a disavow has been uploaded for the sites with the spun articles, then the spun articles should have no impact on the original site.

In the case of a Penguin penalty, you likely wouldn't see any results from uploading a disavow file until the next Penguin update, which could be a year or more away.
3:46 am on May 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@aristotle

Is that what you have read, or what you have experienced?
I've disavowed, removed the disavow, then re-disavowed the same target site with some variation on the disavowed domains.
To be more specific, I've done it repeatedly in the last 60 days over different sites.

So, perhaps you can share the details of how a Penguin penalty, disavow and site recovery works?
1:05 pm on May 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Walt Hartwell --
As for personal experience, I had two small sites (my first two sites) that were penalized by the original penguin rollout in April 2012. The penalties were due to dozens of submissions to free directories that I made in 2005 and 2006. At that time google's guidelines encouraged people to submit their sites to directories. I found a forum where new directory launches were announced, usually at least one or two announcements a day. I created a form-filler that speeded up the submission process, and submitted both sites to dozens of them. Because of the form filler, I used the same anchor text for nearly all of them, and nearly all of the links pointed to the home page.

That was the only link building I ever did for those two sites, and it obviously created an easy to spot artificial backlink profile. So those sites were hit by the original penguin rollout in 2012.

I don't remember exactly when google began accepting disavow files, but it was at least a year later. I had kept records of all the directories I had submitted to, and found that most of them were still live on the web, although many had converted from free to paid.

About 8-10 months after I oploaded the disavow files, (I don't remember the date, probably in 2014), google announced that the next penguin refresh had started, and both of those sites immediately gained back some of the traffic they had lost. There were also reports on WebmasterWorld of other sites being released from penguin at that time as well.

BUT NOTE: When you disavow links, they no longer help boost your rankings. So even when a site is released from penguin, it normally won't regain all of the previously-lost traffic. In other words, it's only a partial recovery.
4:23 am on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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As for personal experience, I had two small sites (my first two sites) that were penalized by the original penguin rollout in April 2012. The penalties were due to dozens of submissions to free directories that I made in 2005 and 2006.


Two sites aren't really enough to establish some kind of base line. But I do find it interesting that you were making directory submissions in 2005/2006 and you did not suffer a penalty until 2012?

That six or seven year window certainly puts a little perspective on churn and burn timeframes, doesn't it?
6:18 am on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Penguin is not churn and burn. It comes in very long cycles. So any churn and burn is folks changing disavow listings over and over with no result because the next penguin (or panda) has not come around. It might become different when penguin is rolled into the main algo.
1:48 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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But would Google permanently derank sites for any such indiscretion?


Joe Dander walks into a bar. He's wearing a t-shirt with a sexist slogan on it, his clothes are sagging because he slept in them the night before. Joe Dander has no Mojo. His personal grooming and style confers something I call Nojo. Nojo, a word I just coined, is the opposite of Mojo. Is Joe Dander ejected from the bar because the women have a low opinion of him or is he simply ignored for lack of Mojo and a preponderance of Nojo?

Similarly, when it comes to links, if most of your links contain a lot of Nojo then your site will not be deemed authoritative. What you need is Mojo. A lot of Mojo. I have helped sites recover from Nojo by building more Mojo. Works every time.
3:32 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Two sites aren't really enough to establish some kind of base line.

As I said in my post, there were other reports here of similar recoveries during penguin updates.
But I do find it interesting that you were making directory submissions in 2005/2006 and you did not suffer a penalty until 2012?

As I said in my post, in 2005-2006 Google's guidelines encouraged people to submit their sites to directories. A few years later, they removed that from their guidelines. In effect, the original Penguin rollout in April 2012 penalized me for following their guidelines of 2005-2006. There were many others who were penalized for the same reason.
3:55 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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In effect, the original Penguin rollout in April 2012 penalized me for following their guidelines of 2005-2006.

Or maybe you just submitted to the wrong kinds of directories (the directories that were designed for linkbuilders, not for users)
4:35 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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in 2005-2006 Google's guidelines encouraged people to submit their sites to directories.


You're partially right. There may have been a reference to Yahoo directory but Google's guidelines never encouraged anyone to submit to directories as a link building strategy. That was wishful extrapolation by SEOs. Don't blame Google's guidelines because submitting to so-called "SEO Friendly" directories was never a recommendation from Google.

My recommendation at the time was that if you saw anything promoted as "SEO Friendly" then assume it's going to be harmful to you. As you may recall, directories like Bluewhatever and many others were penalized during that period, which proved my point that I asserted at the time that those were bad investments and not a good activity to engage in. Those SEO Friendly Directories were link buying schemes and were never recommended by Google or any Googler.

What your site might suffer from is too much Nojo and not enough Mojo. I've seen that before.
5:39 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The thread has strayed a bit ... the query was is there a price for spinning articles. Penguin does not like spun articles. Penguin comes around on large cycles so finding out if any change made did the trick is somewhere in the future, not today, tomorrow or even next week. When (if?) penguin is rolled into the main algo things might be different as regards cause/effect changes. Right now it does not seem there is much that can be done other than clean the site of spun content, put real value on the site, and hope the next penguin index will like what it sees.
7:47 pm on May 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Well I would just like to add that those directory submissions actually considerably benefitted those two sites overall, since for six years they enjoyed much higher rankings than they would have had otherwise, and the increased traffic enabled then to attract a few natural backlinks as well. They were penalized for about two years, but recovered after I disavowed the directory links and penguin eventually updated. And most likely they are doing better now than they would be if I hadn't ever submitted them to any directories. But those are small sites, and not as important to me as my later sites.

As for the links from the spun articles, if you disavow them, and if they were responsible for the penguin penalty, then the site should recover at the next penguin update, whenever that occurs.
2:56 am on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Hey, if you want to jump into my niche with spun content I'm fine with that. I'll tear your rankings a new one on a keyword by keyword level with my content but... sure, go for it.

That's my feeling about spun articles.

As for your question, Matt Cutts suggested that sometimes it's best to tear the house down and rebuild. It's possible that the entire domain, or at least some of it's URIs, are now poisoned and you'd do better by focusing on a new domain. Shortcuts rarely come without problems or they'd be the default way to get there.
4:13 pm on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Has Google ever said that article spinning is penalized by Penguin? If an algorithm were to punish article spinning, wouldn't Panda (the quality algorithm) be a more likely enforcer?
4:14 pm on May 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Article spinning comes back to bite long after the SEO advisers have been and gone.

Unfortunately, the sites are probably just going to remain in a bad state, and as JS_Harris reiterates, sometimes it's best to move on. That's primarily because the site owner has little control over all the other sites, which in themselves may be poisoned.

It's always worth referring to this "little or no original content" message from Google [support.google.com...]
2:05 am on May 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This subject was addressed in this (Friday) morning's Google Webmaster Hangout. John Muller suggested the best option was to start over. Build a new site, with mostly the same content but with all the past errors corrected. It was discussed during the first five minutes or so.

here is the link: [plus.google.com...]
9:53 am on May 23, 2016 (gmt 0)

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A badly spun article from an amazon affiliate spam site ranks on page 1 after amazon for a keyword I want.
2:24 am on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Directory submissions, article spinning, im getting 2006 SEO talk deja vu
any site that used that for SEO is at the bottom of the ocean never to be seen again
4:15 am on May 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Directory submissions, article spinning, im getting 2006 SEO talk deja vu
any site that used that for SEO is at the bottom of the ocean never to be seen again


Funny that you'd post that just after a post complaining about a high ranking spun page. I found some humor in it anyways.

I don't believe anyone would currently have SEO success with methods that were commonly used in 2006. But, concepts and technologies have changed considerably over the years, just as search engines have changed their ranking technologies.

In all honesty, I find the "just build great content" speech kind of boring. Everyone seems horrified of the concept of links, either giving them out or getting them. No one wants to do anything that search engines may find objectionable, either now, or at some undefined point in the future. Anchor text will sink you to oblivion, content not meeting an undefined benchmark will also sink you to oblivion.

So what's left? Bitching about the traffic you no longer have?

This thread, like many others, could have actually been something people could learn from.

</rant>Looks like this will be my 77th post, which is way more than my normal.
2:28 pm on June 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Funny that you'd post that just after a post complaining about a high ranking spun page


huh?
2:40 pm on June 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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In all honesty, I find the "just build great content" speech kind of boring. Everyone seems horrified of the concept of links, either giving them out or getting them. No one wants to do anything that search engines may find objectionable, either now, or at some undefined point in the future.

Is there any evidence to suggest that the majority of people who produce great content are living in fear of having their inbound or outbound links misinterpreted by search engines?

SEOs may spend a lot of time thinking about Google manual penalties and Penguin, but the person who's created the definitive guide to the churches of Rome, cat diseases, vintage motorcycles, or Scottish history probably doesn't.
5:27 pm on June 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@J_RaD
The post previous to yours mentioned a spun article ranking on page 1 for a keyword they wanted. You then mention any site using that is at the bottom of the ocean never to be seen again.
I just found humor in the widely divergent experiences we all have.

@ED
I would suppose the majority of people who produce great content actually spend their time producing content, I have no idea what SEOs spend their time thinking about. I do know I've had one manual penalty on an unattended site that was hacked and had pages with low quality outbound links. That took several reconsideration requests to get back on track.
I do feel fairly confident that if I ever get the burning desire to put together a site about cat diseases, it will be informative, accurate, and rank right up there with the best of the cat disease websites.
9:21 pm on June 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The post previous to yours mentioned a spun article ranking on page 1 for a keyword they wanted. You then mention any site using that is at the bottom of the ocean never to be seen again.
I just found humor in the widely divergent experiences we all have.


ahhhhh ok....lucky? who knows.. its a moving target and im starting to think most "SEO" are people guessing.
I just think if you go out of the gate right now with that mindset, you are toast. 2012 i watched so many article sites just evaporate..goog just delisted them and they became worthless, even the more legit article sites took a serious blow.
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