My Content Spinning Blunder: Google Stop Words

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Google Stop Words

Hey everyone.

For those that know me as a contributor on ZK’s great site, you’ll know that I love courting controversy and debate with my posts. In fact, I have a great article coming out soon about paid links, so keep an eye out for that one in the near future. Today, however, I’d like to discuss something that isn’t so much as controversial as it is illuminating. This is also a mistake that I have personally discovered I’m making.

Background

My very favorite method of back-link building for any SEO project I undertake is article marketing. I swear by article marketing.  I love article marketing. My favorite SEO software package has a fantastic article submitter and content spinner that has made my article submission process far easier than it has in the past, and I would say that article directory submission is really the ‘bread and butter’ of my back-linking procedure.

I know the rules about duplicate content (see my last post), and have always felt secure in my mass directory submissions because I follow a comprehensive article spinning protocol that I always felt protected me from Google figuring out that the dozens of articles I had distributed into the world were, in fact, the same article spun a hundred times over.

Today, I learned that part of my content spinning protocol was deeply flawed.This flaw is going to force me to totally re-consider how I spin my content. Here’s how it happened:

I generally employ two methods when spinning article content. One method is to go through the article sentence by sentence and replace each sentence with a spun variant that conveys the same meaning. The second method is to go through word by word and spin each word into synonyms. This method is far more common because:

A. It can be utilized by automatic article spinners armed with a thesaurus database and

B. It’s a lot easier to to if you are manually spinning

Unfortunately, it’s also vulnerable to low content spin percentages. When I spin all the possible words in an article, I rarely find that the spun content percentage gets much higher than 50%. Here’s the real kicker though, and the thing I was overlooking: Due to Google’s Stop Words, that number is actually a LOT lower than I thought it was. Here’s why:

Google Stop Words

Google’s Stop Words are a list of words that Google ignores when caching and indexing a page because they are just so common. Google is able to speed up its algorithm by ignoring these words when reading a page’s content. A comprehensive list of Google’s Stop Words can be found here.

See any of your favorite spin words on that list? I know I did.  One of my most common spins is the usage of ‘usually’ and generally’. The two words are {fundamentally|basically} synonyms and I {generally|usually} use them interchangeably. Unfortunately, the word ‘usually’ is on the list of Google Stop Words! This means that every I used the word ‘generally’ in an article and spun it into ‘usually’, Google didn’t see the content as spun at all. As far as Google is concerned, the two sentences that those words are in are identical!

If you have many of Google’s Stop Words in your spun content, your actual spin percentage may be far lower than you thought. If your content spinner told you 50%, could you actually be at 30%? 20%? Are you using a spun variation on your blog? Your website? For your article back-links?

The more times you used a spun article variation, the most chances you have to trip off some internal Google alarm. If you lose indexing of a few article back-links, the world isn’t going to end. If you posted an article to your main website and then submitted spun versions to the article directories, however, you might have cause to worry. I know I’m guilty.

Moral of the Story

Study the list. Become familiar with the Stop Words and don’t waste your time spinning them. If you DO spin them, account for their percentage to subtracted from the overall spun percentage. Or just play it safe and spin sentence by sentence. It’ll take a little longer, and you won’t be able to use your automatic content spinner. But you’ll be sure you’ll never have to worry about this kind of crap. Oh, and was the garbage written by your automatic content spinner REALLY coherent anyway?

Image Credit: Wanda Abbing

Article by David Fishman

David has written 3 articles.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jason Capshaw July 10, 2010, 10:37 am

    Stop words…I have never thought of this before. That could significantly reduce the uniqueness of an article. I wonder if the Google stop word list has been updated?

  • Colleen July 10, 2010, 11:32 am

    “My favorite SEO software package has a fantastic article submitter and content spinner that has made my article submission process far easier than it has in the past…”

    Curious what spinner or seo software you are using. Your article is great. One takeaway for me is to keep doing article submissions. 😉

    • David July 12, 2010, 8:24 am

      Hi Colleen. Glad you enjoyed the article. Stay tuned, cause I’ve got two more in draft form for this website right now. ZK’s website is rapidly becoming my favorite SEO soapbox. (I just looked up the domain availability for SEO Soapbox and found it’s already taken :(…)

      I’ve used several different spinners, both paid and free. I’ve never used a totally automatic program because I prefer to have total control over what’s being generated.

      I’m currently using the content spinner packaged with the Web2Mayhem membership program and services. My firm has a corporate membership, but I realize that $127/month is a bit steep for most people who aren’t already making serious profits in their online marketing. Web2Mayhem has both a blog syndication network called Syndicate Kahuna and a spin-cognizant article submitter packaged within it and I’ve used them both to good effect.

      Since I’ve actually had this unique opportunity to use the program, I’ll be doing an objective review/analysis of the Web2Mayhem software package sometime in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that.

      We also use My Article Network, which is a blog syndication network with a built-in spinner. This is probably a bit more appropriate for the average user, and at $27/month, rather feasible. I’ve heard it’s very similar to Unique Article Writer, but I’ve never used UAW myself, so I can’t provide much of a critique.

      In the way of free tools, I’ve used http://www.spinprofit.com to good success. It’s easy, fast, and does pretty much exactly what it wants you to do. My only problem with SpinProfit is that it forces you to download a zipped file of 50 spun copies (numbered 1-150) of your article instead of randomly generating a spun version for you to copy-paste or upload into an article submitter. I keep the file on my desktop and just delete each version from the folder as I use it.

      If anyone else has used a content spinner that’s worth sharing, I invite you to tell us about it!

  • Blog Promotion July 10, 2010, 11:06 pm

    Modern search engines can not really be useful by excluding stop words. We us phrase searching more and more often to narrow down our results so all words are necessary.

  • Bob July 11, 2010, 1:44 am

    @ Blog Promotion:

    “Modern search engines can not really be useful by excluding stop words.”

    You would prefer the web be littered with spun, rubbish junk? When will people stop trying to “cheat” the system and just write good, unique content to attract GOOD links?

    • Blog Promotion July 11, 2010, 9:56 am

      No, i do not agree with spinning articles but I also believe that the person searching needs the most relevant information. Excluding words in a phrase does not make it easier on the person searching. If we want to eliminate spam, there are other ways to do it.

      These article submission websites don’t usually rank high because the interior pages do not get linked to anyways. I think the problem with relevant results lies in the link system but that is a whole other story and I don’t want to highjack this thread.

    • Chris McGiffen July 12, 2010, 4:22 am

      This is far too simplified and Blog is right in that so much more goes on within the search engine than ignoring stop words; after all a search for ‘to be or not to be’ wouldn’t come back with anything useful if this were the case.

      Having said that, article spinning as it currently stands is also far too simple, and needs to be far more complex than replacing a few words and phrases.

      • David July 12, 2010, 7:55 am

        @Blog Promotion

        I’m not suggesting that anyone eliminate words from their searches or that webmasters eliminate words from their content. I’m merely suggesting, for those who use content spinners, (and many of us do) that more care be taken in their spinning efforts to ensure that spin percentages are above ‘best practices’ levels.

        @Chris

        You bring up a good point, and perhaps I misspoke by saying that stop words are totally removed from the search results. ‘To be or not to be’, arguably one of the most well-known phrases in the modern English language, is indeed made up entirely of ‘stop words’ and a search for this phrase results in relevant Shakespeare-related pages.

        I invite you, however, to perform Google searches with ANY index-able term tacked on to the end of that phrase. I tried “to be or not to be cheetahs” and “to be or not to be Yankees” (without quotes).
        What results do you find? The additional word on the end, as long as it isn’t on the Stop-Words list, totally dominates the results. I think most people would argue that a search for “to be or not to be cheetahs” probably has some Shakespeare-related intent behind it, but the search engines return information entirely about cheetahs, suggesting that all the other words in the sentence have been de-valued (if not outright discounted).

  • Bidet July 11, 2010, 5:03 am

    This is great info, do the automatic spin tools work, it would seem to make the article seem unnatural and not make much sense.

    • David July 12, 2010, 8:27 am

      Bidet, I’ve never used an automatic spin tool. I prefer to use semi-automatic or manual spinning. I would call semi-automatic a program that detects sentences for you and provides spaces to input alternate sentences.

      I would call manual spinning writing an article in notepad and typing out spin tags like {red|crimson} as you type your content.

      Sometimes I do a combination of the two for maximum spin, especially when working with a program that supports nested spinning (spins within spins).

  • Uzi July 11, 2010, 10:13 am

    Which software do you use for spinning, PM me please if you don’t want to tell here…

    • David July 12, 2010, 8:28 am

      Uzi, see my response to Colleen above. 😀

  • Article Directory July 11, 2010, 1:46 pm

    To this end, they look to minimize the amount of duplicate content they allow in their index. Article Directory

  • Dany Event Planning July 11, 2010, 9:49 pm

    Thanks. At one point, I read that those stop words should not be used at all! Thanks for debunking that myth.

    • David July 12, 2010, 8:30 am

      Well Chris made a great point above. What if someone runs a Shakespeare website and hopes to get search traffic on the phrase “to be or not to be”?

      The words are going to be used in a natural way by content writers and searchers alike. I just want to caution people about how well they spin their articles when they take into account a certain amount of spin percentage that must be subtracted.

  • jtGraphic: James Thompson July 11, 2010, 11:12 pm

    Can you make a spinning recommendation?

    • David July 12, 2010, 8:30 am

      James, see my response to Colleen near the top of the comments section 🙂

  • SEO: TopCommenter.com July 11, 2010, 11:13 pm

    Do you know of any great auto-comment/spinners out there? I’d prefer web based software.

    • David July 12, 2010, 8:31 am

      See my response to Colleen at the top of the comments 🙂

  • Iowa City Cars July 12, 2010, 7:22 am

    What article submitting spinning software do you use?

    • David July 12, 2010, 8:32 am

      See my response to Colleen at the top of the comments section.

  • ZK July 12, 2010, 8:48 am

    @David,

    Thanks for the wonderful SEO related posts on the blog and for your prompt response to the comments…We are all awaiting your next blog post here 🙂

    • David July 12, 2010, 2:02 pm

      Thanks Zk! As always, thanks for the guest-posting opportunities.

      Favor: could you attribute my first guest-post to my account? It’s still posted under admin (the facebook fan page one) because you hadn’t created a contributor account for me yet. I’d like to have all my articles associated with my user-name 🙂 Thanks!

      • ZK July 15, 2010, 7:19 am

        Hey David ,

        I tried doing this , but I can’t figure it out 🙁

        Any one here know how to associate a live blog post to the authors account ?

        • David July 15, 2010, 7:27 am

          Hey ZK. Can’t you just go to Edit the post and scroll down the page? Somewhere in the big mess of options is a dropdown box where you can choose author.
          I know you have a lot of plugins running down there, but there should be space to change author attribution (at least I know there is on the live posts on my website).

  • Plumber Sydney July 12, 2010, 6:16 pm

    Great article. I’ve never considered Stop words before which is obviously going to have an impact on my spinning too. Somethign for me to look in to!

  • mysuperwoofer July 18, 2010, 9:23 am

    I like your wordpress seo article, it is very useful, because it helps my seo job.

  • Benin August 28, 2010, 6:17 pm

    Wow David. Another great article. Glad I took the time to read it to learn more about article spinning packages and Google Stop Words. Thanks for the resources that you mentioned too, I’ll be looking into My Article Network. But just a side note…looks like they’ve upped the ante on the pricing a little bit.

  • content spinning October 12, 2010, 7:42 pm

    Excellent information.!The spinning software that I really love to use so far is “Magic Article Rewriter”, the software is easy to use, works directly on my laptop, spin whole sentences, and creates totally unique article.

  • Jasmine October 19, 2010, 2:16 am

    I didn’t know about Google stop words! Thank you for the article and explanation. We have to be extra careful on this.

  • Free PPC Landing Pages May 26, 2011, 10:48 am

    Hello David i agree with you…!
    But sorry i Don’t feel much conferable with content spinner, as they wont give the real info or some time they bring lot of grammaticality mistakes.