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SP89 Spinning Legal&Google

George Morgan
My articles
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Article Spinning is the legal basis for running blog aggregation.

It also opens possibilities for use in server link farms that improve the SEO of a site.

Google says that it does not penalize duplicate content (or similar in case of spinning).


Videos and Pics

 Article spinner

Article spinning is a specific writing technique used in search engine optimization (SEO) and in other applications. Website authors may use article spinning on their own sites to reduce the similarity ratio of rather redundant pages or pages with thin content. 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 written manually as many times as needed.

We can have an article spinner which will spin all of the articles to be unique.


This will avoid:

  • Copyright issues
  • Duplicate content

Use in SEO

Rewrite an article 100 times with the spinner and link to one client site.

Disadvantage: Potentially punished by Google.


Plagiarism vs Spinning


Can you write a 1000-word article on a topic you know little or nothing about?

Of course you could. Do some reading, take lots of notes, and get to work.

Let’s face it. Very little you write is completely original—you learned it from somewhere. Even if it’s a personal experience essay, the slant you take or advice you give is based on the beliefs or ideals that you’ve learned and embraced.

And you probably don’t know more than a few or a half-dozen topics so well that you could write an outstanding, informative, and useful 1000-word article without consulting at least a couple of websites or books for a quick brush up.

Even fiction, no matter how creative, taps into the wells of work that came before it. How many popular novels feature a love triangle or a Cinderella story?

And even if you’re writing about something you know like the back of your hand, you’d still want to check a few facts or even quote a couple of experts.

But where is the line between “original” writing, such as it is, and plagiarism? What’s the difference between reading, learning, and writing—and copying someone else’s work? How do you write about something you know hardly anything about?

Then there’s paraphrasing and “spinning.” What’s the difference and what should you avoid?

Let’s take a look.



Plagiarism is stealing.

When you copy someone else’s writing exactly as you found it, that’s plagiarism. It’s stealing, it’s illegal, and it’s considered despicable by publishers, universities, and hard-working writers alike.

Plagiarism can get you kicked out of school or fired from a job. You can even be arrested, fined, and sent to jail.

But what happens when you write about something that’s a well-known fact? Take this, for example:

WordPress is an open-source content management system often used for blogging.

I’ll bet there are at least a few hundred similar or even identical sentences somewhere on the Internet. Is it plagiarism?

Take a look at this one:

Columbus discovered America in 1492.

Is that plagiarism if you can find that exact sentence somewhere? (Whether it’s really a “fact” and whether it should be clarified is a different story.)

Neither sentence in itself is plagiarism because both are considered common knowledge. How many ways can you describe WordPress or make a statement about Christopher Columbus’s main accomplishment?

Check these out:

Maple trees are deciduous and common in temperate climates.
Kangaroos are marsupials that live in Australia.

You might not know that maple trees are deciduous or that kangaroos are marsupials, but anyone a little familiar with trees and kangaroos considers both facts common knowledge. You can read about maple trees and kangaroos almost anywhere.

Knowledge is generally considered “common knowledge” if you can find it in at least 5 reputable sources without credit given to an author, researcher, or anyone else. And it’s not plagiarism if you write the information in your own words, even if “your own words” aren’t super exciting or original.

You’re guilty of plagiarism only when you copy someone else’s writing. It doesn’t matter whether or not that writing has a name and a little © by it or whether it’s online or in print. If you didn’t think it up and write it, it’s not yours. Read about copyright law in the US here: Copyright in General.



Paraphrasing is perfectly legit as long as you’re careful and give credit to the source. But what is it?

To paraphrase means to give a summary of what someone else wrote or to explain something you’ve read in your own words. Merriam-Webster says a paraphrase is “a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form.”

Let’s say I’m writing an article about hemangiosarcoma, which is a type of cancer that dogs and sometimes cats get. I know a lot about it because one of my dogs died from it a few years ago.

I could easily whip out 1000 words to explain the basic facts, which are common knowledge among veterinarians and can be found in any veterinary textbook and on many reputable websites.

But if I want to add credibility and an interesting angle to my article, I could look up some information written by a veterinarian or a canine oncologist and mention it with a clear reference to my source.

For example, I could write an article called Traditional Chinese medicine offers hope for dogs with hemangiosarcoma.

I’d explain the basics and the standard treatments, and I’d emphasize that, once hemangiosarcoma is diagnosed, life expectancy is short. I would go on with a paraphrase:

But recent research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine has shown that an extract of a mushroom used in Chinese medicine for over 2000 years may extend a dog’s survival time far beyond the usual poor prognosis. 

To write the sentence above, I read the article, and I summarized in my own words what I learned. This is not common knowledge, and even if it’s my own words, it’s nothing I could have known if I hadn’t read that article. So I need to give credit to the source, which I did by providing a link and mentioning where the research was done.

Even if all my friends are talking about it, the study was done only recently, and you can’t find it anywhere without the source cited, so there’s no way it could be considered common knowledge. It’s someone’s original research and intellectual property.

Here’s a great example of an article written about that study which uses extensive paraphrasing: Researchers Shocked by Mushroom Study Results.

In the research article itself, you can see many examples of paraphrasing. Each paraphrased section is marked with a number which is linked to the source at the end.

And even if you’re paraphrasing a blogger who happens to be your friend, the same rules apply. If it’s not common knowledge or not your own original thinking or opinion, give credit to the source. Not sure? Play it safe.




Spinning is just disguised plagiarism.

If you copy someone’s writing but change enough words around so it doesn’t look like you copied word for word, that’s spinning. You can do it manually or with online spinners (which are sort of like translators) that really butcher things up pretty badly.

Here’s a good definition on Wikipedia.

Spinning, to me, is worse than plagiarism. At least someone who plagiarizes doesn’t try to hide it and might even be ignorant of how serious it is. It’s like walking into a store, taking cookies off a shelf, and eating them right out in the open.

If you’re spinning, you know it’s wrong. You walk into the store in stealth mode, snap up the cookies, hide them under your jacket, and sneak out to your car and crouch down while you gobble them up.

Either way, spinning—unless you’re spinning your own articles, which is a separate issue—is as illegal as plagiarism and could land you (or the client you’re writing for) in jail. And if you call yourself a writer, you shouldn’t do either one.

Keep in mind that writing on the same topic that others have written about from your own angle with your own words isn’t spinning.

And if I write an article about this very same topic a year from now for my own blog or someone else’s, sure, it’s going to be similar as far as subject matter goes. But if it’s got a different angle, different tone, different words, and completely different examples and links (or none), it’s not spinning.


Original writing

Original writing is (for our purpose here) writing that’s based on knowledge, memory, and imagination. The words, unless specified otherwise, are the writer’s own, as if he or she were talking. It’s like explaining something to a friend.

Let’s exclude personal experience writing and fiction for now and focus on non-fiction, which is what we usually find on blogs and in magazines.

This article (that you’re reading right now) is original, non-fiction writing. It’s an amalgamation of what I’ve learned in college, as a college instructor, as a writer, and as a copyeditor.

I could have lunch or coffee with you and tell you almost everything I’ve written here—and then some. I could fire up my laptop while we’re eating and quickly buzz around finding links to support what I’m saying or give examples. I know it that well.

Even if I didn’t know much about this, I could still do some reading to learn about it. Then, when I feel like I know it well enough to start writing, I’d sit down and get to work.



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