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Counterfeit Content - Beware of Content Scraping and Automated Generation - Way Back Wednesday #11

Adrian Bredeson
by Adrian Bredeson on Aug 24, 2011 9:37:00 AM

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One of the most popular phrases in the SEM industry is: Content is King! Websites revolve around their content. Searchers depend on content to understand a brand and what they offer. Search engines do too. Without unique, descriptive text on a Website, no one, search engines and potential customers alike, will be able to differentiate your Website from the next. Search engines depend on exclusive, original content to decipher which search terms relate to any given Website.

With content being so important to both search engines and searchers, there are many self-proclaimed "Search Marketing Agencies" out there looking to cash in. Utilizing deceitful tactics that may offer some results in the short-term, these agencies will end up causing more harm to your Website in the long-run. There are many tactics these unethical businesses will use to make a buck. Here we'll talk about the big 2: Content Scraping and Automated Content Generation.

Content Scraping

This tactic is used to steal the content from an original Website, and place the scraped content onto their client's Website. Often done automatically, through an RSS feed or software program, content scraping is plagiarism and theft, plain and simple. Though many times the process is automated, there are plenty of instances of SEO firms manually copying a site's content, and selling it to another site. Google's Webmaster Tools recommends against this practice for a variety of reasons.

When someone takes the time to write unique, innovative content for their Website or Blog, and it is published on another Website, unethical SEO is underway. Scraping the content from another Website is a simple way for deceitful "SEO firms" attempting to make a quick buck and game the search engines. Copyright violations and search engine penalties are just two of the results awaiting content scrapers. Though this practice has been around for years, it keeps adapting. Search engines are adapting too. It doesn't take Google long to spot duplicate content. If you are using the content from another Website on your own site, you will be penalized.

We offer two warnings about this tactic, as the hazards of content scraping are two-fold:

  • You must make certain that the content that gets put on your Website is truly unique.
  • Be on the watch for scrapers taking your unique content and putting it on other sites.

Protect your Website from content scraping by educating yourself on the practice and being on the lookout for this long-standing, fraudulent form of "SEO". Don't accept this form of SEO from your agency. Just develop unique content to educate visitors and earn top search visibility the right way.

Automated Content Generation

The automatic generation of Website content is an SEO tactic that claims to create unique Website content without human involvement. This is mainly done by altering existing articles through a variety of methods. Article rewriting, Markov chains, synonym substitution, content generating software; the list goes on and on, but the basic theory stays the same. Automating content creation to save time and game the search engines. Often the content is gibberish, randomly generated articles stuffed with keywords, more worried about keyword density than relevant, readable content.

When Websites are populated with gibberish, automatically generated content, they violate Google's Webmaster Guidelines, specifically the quality guidelines and basic principles of writing content for users, not search engines. Not to mention the embarrassment that comes from potential clients finding gibberish on your site. You will be dismissed as spam well before the sale.

When it comes right down to it, content really is still king, but there's so much more to it. Websites should be populated with unique, relevant content that teaches both search engines and searchers what a Website is about. You are just selling yourself short by scraping content from other sites or using software to fill up your pages. You know your industry; you know your products and your brand. Take the time to create original content and both potential customers and the search engines will take notice. Don't fall for the big promises and false claims of shady SEO services. Be vigilant about the content you put on your Website, and be on the lookout for other Website scrapping your work.

Has your site been the victim of content scraping? Did you pay for content only to realize later that it wasn't up to par with the rest of your site because it was automatically generated? We want to hear from you in this week's #WayBackSEM chat on Twitter! Don't forget to follow us @EPowerMarketing to learn even more about these and other outdated and deceitful SEO tactics.

 

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Adrian Bredeson
Written by Adrian Bredeson
As Director, SEO and Social Media at E-Power Marketing, Adrian is primarily focused on the organic success of client programs through SEO, social media and content marketing. Adrian also heads up the agency's marketing initiatives. With a background in psychology and PR, her passion for telling a brand's story by understanding and engaging with their target audiences has been put to good use at E-Power!

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