Perhaps at one point in time you used spinning and/or scraping to create content on your blog. And perhaps these “Black Hat” methods were providing you with much needed income. Spinning/scraping articles, however, might end up giving you duplicate content.
Many advertising companies and their clients now have access to software that will check for duplicate content (trust me, I’ve seen it in action and if I were them I would use it!) There is even a free plagiarism checker online that anyone can use. So if your clients decide that what you are providing is duplicate content they may refuse to pay you, and may even ban you from working for them in the future. Who needs that kind of aggravation? I sure don’t!
From what I understand, Google checks for duplicate content and penalizes the websites that uses duplicate content. At least that is what I understand from reading the Google Webmaster Guidelines page about duplicate content. In addition, duplicate content can be construed as plagiarism and you could be sued if the original author finds out about it and decides to sue you. Now you may feel safe from being sued, but for me, well, I don’t want to take the chance. Lawyers are expensive around here. So I work very hard at posting unique content in my blog posts.
I would like to take a moment to address those bloggers that I have met that have found themselves in the situation where they were convinced that spinning articles for content will help them to earn a lot of money with their blogs. On top of that perhaps they have arranged for cheap hosting for their blog on a hosting server that has been flagged by Google as what they call a “bad neighborhood.” Oh, and they also were told that they could make a lot of money from buying an expired domain name with pre-existing PR and using it to blog for money! (Please understand that I am not being judgmental here, and accept my apologies in advance if you get the feeling that I am being judgmental. I truly strive in my life to not be judgmental.) These above listed activities and situations are some of the types of activities that Google SEO experts call “Black Hat” and Google is trying very hard to find those blogs and penalize them. They are getting better at it, and advertisers are starting to realize that doing business with those bloggers might penalize them, too!
Recently I found myself flooded with private messages from some bloggers that have found themselves in this position and they have been asking me to help them to increase their income with their blogs. After a few questions about their techniques, I determined that these bloggers, whether on purpose, or by accident, were using “Black Hat” techniques. Now I am not an expert by any means, but I have learned a few things that I don’t mind sharing, so I decided to address that situation here in the hopes that this post may help all bloggers to understand what is going on, why it is happening, and what can be done about it. This might be the perfect time to change hats.
Installment 1 of an opinion series by Linda Bradshaw about SEO and blogging
One of my favorite classes in college was sociology – the study of society. I like to think that we, as bloggers, are members of a fairly new society. One definition of a society I recently found online is: “An organization or association of persons engaged in a common profession, activity, or interest.”
Much like any society, each group within that society tends to prefer the company of other people in the same group. Sometimes people find themselves in one group or the other without even realizing that they have choices that they can make to change from one group to another. Rather like “gang” activity on the city streets. If you are born in one area, you are surrounded by the “Purple” gang and if you join a gang, it will be the “Purple” gang, and if you know what is good for you then you will not even talk to a member of a different gang. Now I’m not implying that bloggers are gang bangers, but I think you get the idea of what I’m trying to say! Peer pressure may prevent people from changing to a different group, and fear of rejection from the other group may prevent people from even trying to change membership from one group to another.
Members of one group, in some cases, may feel themselves to be superior to others in different groups, and they may even strongly dislike and/or distrust the other groups. They may even blame their troubles on the other group. This is called “scapegoating” and it is a normal and completely natural way that societies work. The “benefit” of “scapegoating” is that it builds cohesion within the group so that they will put aside their own personal and petty grievances with each other and work together in their desire to focus their negative energy onto the “scapegoat” of the moment.
I’m not saying that is a good thing, but it exists and it can be manipulated by people with great leadership skills. It can be a great motivator for change. That change can be good, or it can be evil. This, for better or for worse, is one of the ways that society works.
The perfect example of this would be how Hitler manipulated the German people into doing terrible things to each other.
Somewhere, sometime, in a universe far, far away, self-proclaimed SEO experts decided to separate SEO techniques into three groups and call them “White Hat” (Google loves) “Black Hat” (Google hates.) and “Gray Hat” (Google suspects but hasn’t proved it to be evil yet.) There is a web page that I just found and decided to share for this article that discusses the definitions and differences of the three SEO Hats. As for me, well, I’m a member of the Ladies Red Hat Society, so I’m just a little bit crazy and try to make the best of any situation I find myself in.
(There, now do you see how I got Hitler into a discussion about SEO and hats? I warned you, I’m a little bit crazy! And I am wondering if by putting both of those words in the title of my post I might get some strange search results!)