in Blogging, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engines

Can I use blackhat article spinning (spintax) for whitehat purposes?

Whilst chatting in our office last week, reminiscing of ye old SEO tactics such as article spinning, automated backlink tools, etc, we started talking about article spinning and how it might have some legitimate value in certain use cases.

But first, let’s just one thing straight: In no way do I / we condone the use of article spinning for the purpose of blog posts, news articles or anything in between. There is a time and a place for everything, and spinning an entire article to get a unique version just isn’t something I’d recommend. On the other hand their are a few uses that I think we could re-examine such as:

  • eCommerce descriptions
  • photo gallery descriptions
  • meta descriptions, in some cases
  • and a few more

If you think about it, spintax is actually a pretty nifty technology once you look at it from a new perspective. For the purpose of this post, and for 2016 let’s redefine the word “spintax:”

“Spin-tax: a writing method used to generate and find multiple variations of a word, phrase, sentence or paragraph.”

Spintax 101: How to use spintax

Before we go any further, you need a spintax program or lets call it spintax interpreter. There are many of these available online for use, or for download. While researching this article I found a really good one called “Spintax Tool” available to use online. It also has a nifty help section, and they show a few really cool examples.

Now let’s look at the syntax. Syntax stays pretty much the same, and doesn’t vary.

Catching on? Instead of writing out 5, 10 or even 100 unique sentences or paragraphs, you can use the spintax method & synonyms to create variations of your phrases.

Why Spintax Got Such a Bad Wrap

If you look at the history of blackhat SEO, you can see that spintax has played a pretty large part over the years. When Google released its Panda update in 2011, they declared war on shoddy content. One of the main weapons of mass destruction in that war is spintax. Millions maybe even billions of articles were generated via spintax. spintax was the driving force behind most major PBN (private blog networks) but was also used in many different ways.

Once Panda popped off, most SEO’s strayed away from tools like spintax and sought out new methods.

But in my opinion the real reason why spintax got such a bad name is because of people that did shoddy work. Some SEO’s that aren’t very “grammarly motivated” would just throw whatever words into spintax and expect it to come out looking perfect. That, compounded with SEO’s from oversees with English as a second language made most of the content generated by spintax just god awful.

Rethinking Spintax for Whitehat Purposes

Whilst doing some work on an eCommerce site the other day, the thought popped back into my mind: why can’t I use spintax to write variations of an article description? In my opinion product descriptions should be:

  • well written
  • grammatically correct
  • fairly unique

While some folks might be scoffing that I’ve even suggested this, hear me out before you throw eggs at our office.

Let’s dive right in and take a look at a random store on Etsy. This individual owns a crochet shop and has dozens of items. While it is a fact that individual descriptions must be written for each item, there is still some general / filler content that is usually appended to each item. Using spintax, we can create dozens if not hundreds of unique variations within a few quick minutes:

spintax white hat example in ecommerce

Does this look like SPAM? Is it spelled correctly? Grammatically correct? Yep, looks fine to me. In this case if you took a few minutes to verify all variations read well and are grammatically correct, it could save you hours potentially depending on how big your website is.

Another case that might be useful for spintax are photo galleries. A lot of times, photos are nearly identical but still require a unique description. Here is a use case I pulled that could be easily implemented with a few keystrokes:

spintax example photo gallery

Once again, we are able to generate seemingly infinite amount of phrases with a few quick keystrokes. No signs of spam whatsoever and reads well to the average person.

While the above examples illustrate short sentences within the example, it is fairly easy to accomplish the same thing with a 4-5 sentence paragraph.

Even if you have products that are completely different, its still possible to use this method partially. You can write unique descriptions then use spintax to fill in the general fluff content below it.

Contempt prior to investigation

Please don’t hate. While I’ve only tested this on a few select cases with express permission from a client, I do think that this is a tactic that can help save time and money, without sacrificing quality of content.

The real key to this method is using it when appropriate. Again, don’t write a blog post then think you can run it through spintax to get 100 unique versions.

Hope you enjoyed, and a big thanks to my good bud Paul Shapiro for letting me guest post. Toodles!

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26 Comments

  1. Hey Patrick great post, also it was that bit better seeing someone write about stuff that most would turn there noses up at simply because they heard it was bad somewhere but actually know nothing about it :). Another case for using spintax which I utilize all the time is for local SEO citations where NAP consistency would be exactly identical everywhere, the actual business description would not it would be unique on every citation which does set that business apart from the rest where all there description text is identical. Other uses could be twitter welcome MSG’s via Google app engine among many other uses great post.

    • Thank you Gerry – thats a really good point re: NAP consistency. Welcome messages are also another great use. I was thinking transnational email messages maybe? Just to make them not so “canned.”

  2. Love the potential here.

    This sounds like a software that could also still be pretty good on parasite sites. Thinking about reddit self posts, more than anything.

    I wonder if Spintax would still work well for content that is first translated from another language?

  3. informative tips about seo, trying to learn everything I can about seo, doing alot of work myself. My question is submission software is it white or black hat seo. because Big companies have to use some kind of softwares for their customers, I know they are not doing it manually? is it safe?

    • thanks for reading Olia – submission software is generally considered in the black hat category. for links, I think some larger companies are still using submission software but the ones I’ve been working with are really afraid of Penguin. I’d say no, definitely not safe. These days Google’s many targeted algorithms are on the prowl for any and everything they see.

  4. A controversial topic, but done the statement very wisely. Agree to the points, if done it correctly syntax variations can be used for making content for ecom product descriptions.

    It is not a big sin to try the spinning tools, the question is Why and How we are doing it. As you mentioned in the post, the reason for spinning must not be creating a blog post 🙂

    • I think you’ve missed the point or haven’t worked on large enough websites. There are scenarios when it’s practically impossible to 100% unique content. Of course, it’s better to do so, but the resources required for really big websites makes it impossible.

  5. Thank you for this article. I’m also into Local SEO and the approach I use is filling out the home page with at least 1000 words on the subject. I’m only into week 1 of website design, and I’m pretty sure I won’t have to rehash the 1000 words to post else where. Hopefully, I’ll be safe using a spintax software.

  6. Let me tell you that 100000% there is nothing wrong with spintax when used in the way that you do it. I have used exactly the same methods for years and here’s the point…as you say, it has to be done with planning and not just throwing words that don’t make any sense.

    What most people DO NOT do when spinning and how they get caught out is by having many pages on a site with a VERY similar number of words on the page. YES, the content is much different each time, but the length is suspiciously similar. Is it NATURAL to have 300-10000 pages of content all around 320 words? Nope. THIS is what and how Google catches and caught most of the spinnerati (I just made that up and like it!).

    A site of 1000 pages all of very similar length. So easy for Google to algorithmically detect.

    My point – the most important thing to do when spinning is to vary text length as well as all of the points that you make. Varying text length is done by the easiest part of all which is choosing whether to show or not show a sentence or a paragraph etc.

    For example, the true art of spinning is done by 0.1% – and those are the guys that still make all the money from rankings they still attain. This is because they vary not just the words, but the showing or not showing of whole paragraphs or sentences or sections. These guys (I’m one of them) will write 1000 word articles, but on average show only 300 – 800 words – with sentences shown on some and not others, with some paragraphs shown on some and not others – and even the sentences/paragraphs that are shown may be shuffled in their order…and the article STILL reads correctly.

    How long will it take one of the 0.1% to write a 1000 word article that is spun with all of the rules I suggested? It may take a week, or even a month. But you know what? That content makes them THOUSANDS every year.

    The rule is to use the mechanics of spin, but the innovation and creativity of an artist to ensure that it’s absolutely perfect by the time that it is used.

    The average time it takes the average webmaster that uses spintax – even the good guys – is hours…when they should be spending DAYS or more on it.

    So, does spintax work and is it white hat – ABSOLUTELY 100000% – most of the fortune 500 and the world’s best news sites use spintax THOUSANDS of times per HOUR! They just put the work in at the front end to randomise the sentences, the order, whether a sentence is used or not – and make it all look like it was written by a very well educated person.

    Spintax is hugely successful – you’ve read it several times today in your browsing…but it’s by those in the 0.1% that take time to do so.

    • this dude knows what he’s (or she’s) talking about and I’ll tell you why: he’s got one of the few 2 digit hotmail addresses I’ve ever seen 🙂

      also – spot on and I’ld love to see an example of some of these monster articles! (I promise I won’t steal your niche)

    • Hi JW,

      We’re “one” of those guys too, for the french market. I confirm everything: when done with care (and with specific tools), article spinning can not be detected by readers. But it can be detected by the footprints it leaves. I suppose the concept of n-grams is familiar to you?

      In our team, 12 people are dedicated to this activity and they work full-time. For e-commerce products descriptions or real estates but also for custom newsletters based on clients history, etc. Yes, because modern spinning works with variables and logic conditions now. It’s just the grand-{fa|mo}ther of NLG/NLP (Natural Language Generation/Natural Language Processing). The difference between article spinning and NLG is just like between your old Nokia 3310 and the new iPhone X (as a side note, I’m not affiliated to Apple in any way).

      I’d be interested in contacting you when we need to produce spintax in english for some clients, JW. How can I contact you? Maybe Patrick would be so kind to forward my email adress to you?

      I could share so many traffic curves showing that this technique is working extremely well. You are free to believe me or not 🙂

      By the way, very good piece of content here, Patrick, congrats for that!

      Best regards,
      Valerie, from spin{|}wave.

  7. Excellent article and definitely worth looking into. What I would like to add is that spun content is generally detected by using 2-grams and 3-grams, which are basically groups of words that appear in the text. If you can keep the number of equal 2-grams and 3-grams to a minimum when comparing your spun articles, it will go undetected.
    Leaving out paragraphs and sentences works as mentioned above. Also, introducing additional words breaks n-gram detection as well.
    Another fact is that a lot of content out there is “reused” using spinning even in the press and all sorts of publications, not just for SEO….
    It makes really little sense to spend money and labor on writing unique articles when your competition pumps them out by the thousands using sophisticated tools…unless you have access to post them on really high-ranking websites.

    • You are right, Savas, except that you can’t use bi-grams for this detection. It starts with 3-grams and up. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend using article spinning services for PBN or web 2.0s networks. But it works remarkably well when this content is hosted under the same domain name. For example, for geolocalized pages (plumber Atlanta, plumber Chicago, etc.). You can even use spinning to build siloing structures inside one site and push the important page you want to rank for. As long as they are published on the same site, if they can’t be detected by readers and if the similarity ratio is under 25~30%, you’re on the highway to success. I agree with your conclusion about writing unique articles and using article spinning. Both are interesting for specific (and different) cases.

      Kindly yours,
      Valerie from spin{|}wave

    • hey Savas – sorry I missed your comment, excellent point. you are far more knowledgable about these algorithms than I am. mine really comes from experience and correlations I’ve made over the years.

      I’d definitely agree with what you said. I think its just really important to not fall into any sort of habits when spinning anything. word level is the best, but I like a combination of word level / phrase level and sentence level and then mix and match all of the above.

      For me, most of the spinning I do is for things like – Ad copy for HUGE PPC accounts, WooCommerce sites with like 5000 products all of which are very similar etc.

      Thanks again for commenting I’m so glad this post got so much love!

      Patrick

  8. I used this approach on a large ecommerce website a few years ago, we wanted to improve internal linking between categories and were allocated a block of ‘seo text’ across all the category/sub-cat pages to achieve this. This was a huge job with about 350 parent categories each having 5 to 10 sub-cats and it was incredibly dull work for our copywriters! So to help speed up delivery and keep our copywriters sane we utilised spintax so that we could create a couple of relevant and unique paragraphs for every category which all contained relevant links to other related categories.

    Using this approach we were able to group all categories under just 10 key themes such as home, garden, electrical etc, and still produce relevant content for each of the category pages.

    It still took a decent amount of work to set up and the output needed to be sense checked, edited and some content still needed to be created fresh for a few corner cases, but overall it saved us a great deal of time and effort!

    • You’re right, Mike, people don’t realise how long it takes to do it the right way. But there’s no doubt it saves a huge amount of time in comparison with writing each article manually. And with a specific tool to analyse the output articles similarity and extract the most different ones, you have a control on similarity that you wouldn’t have if you were to manually write each text.

      Did it have a positive impact on your website, eventually?

      Best regards,
      Valerie from spin{|}wave

  9. I agree with your article.
    However, in other scenarios like classified ads and other stuff spintax could be very usefull.
    I think that spent time writing an article and spin it could be useful when we thinking in way to extende the original one or to store different portion of an article within a database.
    In example first article should be composed of 2 paragraph, 20 sentesences with question, answers, assertion.
    We can create a large database that contains several spinned paragraph related to the content of the main article.
    Using keyword relevancy and prominence we can bring all the paragraph that can extend the main article and update or extend it. Also spinning text must be done in different ways like thought by blackhat techniques.
    Assume that you have an paragraph which include some sentences with question and response. What we can do ? We can manipulate text in order to create several different versions which expose the context in different manner. First we can have a question with several different answers, we can have several question which expose the answers at different level. We can change totally the logic of a single prhase. We can choose to add or remove automatically paragraphs sentences and so on so forth
    Also there’s another important aspect to understand. Make a simple spinning is not important. The must important thing is to choosing the different one which present different pattern, no plagiarism and so on so forth. This should be very usefull.
    Store those versions in a database and search in it base on our need can reduce dramatically the time to wrote a new one.

    • oh – without a doubt.the e.g.s I just gave were the ones I use. the only times I don’t think spinning is good is for blog posts and such. any time you use spinning to “game the system” I don’t think is really useful but spinning to increase productivity is great.