What is Spun Content?

what is spun content?

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A content spinner is a type of software designed to automatically “rewrite” content into something different. So, you can take your competitor’s top-ranking article, plug it into a content spinner, and instantly generate a comparable piece of content…right? Not so fast. 

Let’s explore content spinning in greater detail to help you understand how it works, why it’s bad, and how you can identify spun content if you have purchased content or services from questionable sources. 

Table of Contents

What is Spun Content?

Spun content is a term used to describe content generated by an automated tool known as a content spinner. You can plug any content into a spinner, but most users will steal content from an online source in order to accelerate the process. The spinner will then attempt to rewrite the content. 

In reality, a content spinner’s “rewriting” process boils down to simple “Spintax,” which swaps out words, rearranges sentences, and occasionally restructures a paragraph. Spun content is barely going to pass an automated plagiarism detector (and technically it will be 100% plagiarized). Meanwhile, there’s no way people will enjoy reading it. 

Given its low quality and innate ability to greatly harm both search engine performance and reputation, most spun content is strictly used for blackhat techniques (i.e., comment spamming). However, some content mills and freelancers will try to sell spun content to their clients.

If a real human carefully edits a piece of spun content, there’s a good chance it can fly under your radar, but that doesn’t make it any better when it comes to the content’s originality or value. Let’s look more closely at the creation process to reveal the flaws of content spinning.

How Do Content Spinners Work?

Using a content spinner is a quick, three-step process: Plug in your source content, review the Spintax, then press a button to generate a piece of spun content. With many free spinners, step two doesn’t even exist, meaning you have no manual control over the output. 

The source content is what you plug in to a spinner and the spun content is what comes out the other end. One piece of source content can be spun hundreds of times, and you can even re-spin the spun content that a spinner spits out (try saying that ten times fast). 

Generally, the more you spin a piece of content, the more it begins to resemble udder gibberish–and even the first iteration tends to be of shockingly low quality. Here’s an example:

Original Sentence

You can plug any content into a spinner, but most users will steal content from an online source in order to accelerate the process.

Spun Sentence

You can plug any substance into a spinner, yet most clients will take content from an internet based source to speed up the interaction.

Is “substance” a word anyone would actually use in that context? Probably not, and therein lies the biggest issue with using a content spinner. 

Even if you’re spinning your own original content to avoid plagiarism issues, spun content is by no means informative, valuable, or enjoyable to read–and those are the key boxes search engines want to check when ranking content. 

So, how exactly does spun content go from being a reasonable sentence to an absolute atrocity? Let’s explain by exploring the core functionality of a content spinner, which is a type of markup known as “Spintax.”

What is Spintax?

Spintax is a type of markup that content spinners use to automatically swap words and, sometimes, rearrange sentences. Some spinners will generate Spintax for you and allow you to edit it before you generate a piece of spun content, giving you the best chance at a sensible result. 

You can write Spintax by hand, but if you’re going to put that much time into your content, you’d be better off writing something good from scratch. Of course, if you don’t have time to create quality content from scratch, we can help. 

How Spintax Works

Here’s an example of what Spintax looks like: 

Spun content is a {term|word} used to {portray|characterize|picture} content {generated|created|originated} by an {automated|robotic} tool known as a content spinner.

A content spinner will choose from the words inside of the {brackets} at random. Each time you put the above Spintax through a content spinner, you’ll get a slightly different result because the options can combine in many ways, like this:

Version 1

Spun content is a term used to characterize content generated by an robotic tool known as a content spinner.

Version 2

Spun content is a word used to portray content originated by an automated tool known as a content spinner.

The total number of unique spins you can generate is limited by how many variations your Spintax provides, but you get the idea. Paid spinner software usually generates Spintax automatically and then gives the user the chance to change things around.

How to Edit Spintax

The goal of editing Spintax is to remove variables that make no sense within the context of content. In our example, a human definitely wouldn’t use the terms “portray” or “picture,” so you could remove both of those options. You can also add your own options, like “describe” or “label.” 

If we edit our sample Spintax to make sure everything is sensible, we get this:

Spun content is a {term|word} used to {describe|characterize|label} content {generated|created} by an automated {tool|software} known as a content spinner.

Notice how we replaced some terms, removed some terms, and even added our own bracket around “tool” because we can also swap that word for “software” in this context. Two possible results look like this: 

Version 1

Spun content is a term used to describe content generated by an automated software known as a content spinner.

Version 1

Spun content is a word used to label content created by an automated tool known as a content spinner.

Spintax can also be used to entire sections of sentences and even entire sentences, like this:

Spun content is a {term|word} used to {describe|characterize|label} content {generated|created} by an automated {tool|software} known as a content spinner. {You can plug any content into a spinner, but most users will steal content from an online source in order to accelerate the process.|Most users take content from somewhere online to spin.} The spinner will then {attempt to rewrite the content|generate a rewritten version}.

In this example, we’ve added an entirely new sentence as an alternative to the second sentence and we added an additional option to end the last sentence. 

The trouble is, the more you ask an automatic Spintax generator to change, the less sense your content will make. Meanwhile, making all these changes by hand is incredibly time-consuming and, again, what’s the payoff?

Even if you take the time to manually write or edit Spintax to make sure your spun content is sensible, there are still many problems with spinning content.

Why Shouldn’t I Use Spun Content?

There are a number of reasons why you should avoid spun content at all costs.

  • Spun content can land you in hot water. The only reason to use a content spinner is to save time, and that’s why people usually take content from somewhere else. That’s called stealing or, more accurately, plagiarizing. Some people think they can get around it by taking a piece from X and another piece from Y, but that’s still plagiarism. More on that in a minute.
  • Spun content is bad for your reputation. When you’re taking a piece of content and letting a software scramble it up, things are going to get lost in translation. It will not read as smoothly and, worst of all, there’s no added value. It offers the same exact information, if not less, than the source content you started with, so why does anyone need it? Low-value content is the enemy of brand authority. 
  • Spun content harms SEO. Many unsuspecting website owners have no idea that their site can actually end up blacklisted if search engine crawlers detect plagiarized content. More than that, since your content isn’t adding any value to what already exists on the web, there’s no way the search engine algorithm is going to favor you. Spun content just sits around and rots. 

Now that you know all the downsides to using spun content, let’s go over one really important flaw in greater detail: Content spinning is plargismism. 

Is Spun Content Plagiarized? 

People who use content spinners tend to use content that they did not create because the whole point of spinning content is to save time. Whether they took the source from one website, one book, one magazine, or assembled bits and pieces from a handful of sources, any spun content produced from stolen content is 100% plagiarized.

Here’s where many people get hung up: Sometimes spun content passes a plagiarism detector when it shouldn’t. The truth is, running spun content through a plagiarism detector and receiving a passing grade for it does not make it okay to use. 

Content spinners are designed to produce content that looks original in the eyes of bots, like search engine crawlers, and it might even pass an automated plagiarism detector simply because automated checks fall short. 

CopyLeaks backs us up on this one, stating: “It may happen that a website is taking content from other websites, writers, or bloggers and then spinning them for new content. It is an instance of plagiarism. Though some plagiarism checker tools may fail to identify the copied content…” 

To sum it up, using stolen content to create spun content leaves you liable, regardless of what an automated plagiarism detector tells you. So, what if you write original content and plug that into a spinner? 

If you’re starting the spinning process with original content, you aren’t at risk of violating any plagiarism laws, but you are going to end up with content that gets worse every time you re-spin it. Additionally, the spinning process is not adding any value to the content. 

Basically, content spinning is a waste of time, so let’s explain why some people use spun content despite all the risks. 

Why Do People Use Content Spinners?

Blackhatters represent the primary userbase for content spinners. Blackhat tactics aim to improve a site’s ranking using unethical methods that go against search engine guidelines. Oftentimes, blackhatters advertise super appealing SEO and marketing services and take advantage of clients who don’t know any better. 

One of the most common blackhat uses for a content spinner goes like this: A blackhat marketer promises they can score you hundreds of links from related blog posts and pages (which is truly great for SEO) and they may not even be charging that much. Problem is, they have no way of producing all that content and still making a profit unless they can do it really cheap and really fast. 

So, the blackhat guy steals or writes a handful of articles and runs them through a content spinner to generate hundreds of spun articles. Next, the blackhat guy adds a link to your website into each spun article and then sends them out to lots of low-grade sites that accept low-grade content. 

At the end of the ruse, the blackhat guy generates a report showing all the new backlinks your website has and you think he’s done great–until your site gets penalized. Search engines are very quick to notice when a site gets a surge of backlinks, especially if many of the sites your links are coming from have been connected to similar schemes in the past.

Blackhat backlink building is the number one use for content spinners. A similar tactic involves using a content spinner to generate thousands of comments and adding links to those. Spun comments are very easily recognized as spam and often get deleted automatically, so this tactic is less common these days. 

In any case, it’s hard to think of a legitimate reason to use a content spinner. While we’re here, it’s also worth noting that buying links is completely against search engine guidelines, whether spun content is used or not. If you want to improve your rankings, you have to do it the old-fashioned way, and that starts with publishing high-value content. 

How to Know if Content is Spun

If you’ve ever paid for sketchy SEO services or purchased content from a questionable source, you might be worried that you received spun content. 

As we said earlier, spun content that has been carefully edited by a human can read quite well, but that doesn’t mean it’s original or of good quality. If you need help figuring out if a piece of content might be spun, here are some markers to check.

#1 It Fails an Automated Check 

Although spun content can give a false negative, the first thing you should do is plug any content you’re suspicious about into a plagiarism detector. If plagiarism is detected, you might be dealing with spun content. If plagiarism isn’t detected, you should manually check for originality.

#2 It Has Unreasonable Similarities

By nature, people who spin content are lazy, so they most likely took the source content from the first page of search results for the keyword at-hand. So, open up all the results you find on the first page of your preferred search engine. 

With the suspicious content in front of you, compare headings, structure, terminology, length, and the placement of lists or other elements. If the suspicious content looks strikingly similar to any of the content you check, you might be dealing with spun content.

#3 It’s Confusing to Read

Unless it’s been carefully edited, most spun content will have a good dose of “filler” content that adds nothing but words. Another red flag is finding terms and phrases that don’t make sense within the context of the piece. 

Advanced spinners will often try to change entire sentences and even entire paragraphs in a bid to produce content that’s more different than the source content. This can lead to structural flaws where ideas repeat themselves or seem out of order. 

If you run into a few problems, it could be a case of poor editing or rushed writing. However, if you run into many quality issues, you could be dealing with spun content.

#4 It Didn’t Cost Much

As the saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Unfortunately, there are many freelancers, content mills, and blackhatters who take advantage of people who don’t know any better–especially when they’re desperate to stretch their dollar. 

If you have a limited content budget, we suggest working directly with an individual freelancer. This will give you the most control over who is producing your content and allow you to carefully vett them by checking reviews and samples. It also helps you hold someone accountable if you run into quality issues. 

A professional freelance writer in the United States runs about 8-10 cents per word–try to pay any less and you could end up with low-quality or spun content. Meanwhile, if you’re going through an agency or platform, you can expect to pay double, in the range of 16-20 cents per word. If you find a source offering cheaper content, think twice before you act. 

Why You Should Invest in Content Marketing

Now that you know the gist of why content spinners are so terrible for SEO, reputation, and the readers of the internet, let’s take it one step further and introduce you to the concept of content marketing. 

In short, content marketing is a technique that involves strategically planning and creating content of extremely high-value to help simultaneously educate your audience, nurture leads, and build your brand’s reputation.

Where as a content spinner regurgitates what’s already been said, the goal of content marketing is to make your brand the ultimate resource, with unique insights, an original viewpoint, and all the details a reader could ever want. 

With that said, it’s not just spun content that works against a brand. Low-quality content of any kind can sabotage your rankings and your reputation. 

So, how does a brand even begin to approach the complexities of content marketing? It starts with a content strategy. If you need help creating or managing your brand’s content strategy, we can help. Explore our services to learn more. 

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What is Spun Content?

A content spinner is a type of software designed to automatically “rewrite” content into something different. So, you can take your competitor’s top-ranking article, plug

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