Content is King, Beware of Court Jesters

Andrew Birkitt

Lead Technical Engineer
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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Well it’s been a really good start to the week for us with a couple of great meetings yesterday, one of which resulted in a brand new e-commerce seo client who wishes to make use of both our SEO and Social Media services for his business.

But it was while we were in discussions with the other potential client that something came up that I wish to discuss in this blog post. We are always going on about how important content is, as its one of the things we feel very strongly about, we keep advising that it’s all well and good having the content optimised for the search engines but the search engines won’t buy your product or service. Users read content and they are your customers and it’s them that have already looked for your services or need to buy your products.

So we are always saying that your content needs to be unique, well written and relevant to the subject of your site or the pages it is being written for. Imagine my surprise when one of the clients in our meeting said that they understood the need for well written unique content and I thought for once we wouldn’t have to emphasise how important this was. Well that was right before they dropped the bombshell by saying that they could get well written content for just a few dollars.

So I asked a few questions:

Have you tried posting the article into Copyscape to see if it passes as authentic and not plagiarised content?

Have you posted a paragraph into the search engines to see if they recognise the content as being from another source?

‘Oh yes’ came the answer we have done both those things and it comes back as 100% unique content. Being ever the sceptic I asked them if I could see the articles and they were more than happy to show me them, and on first inspection they looked great, well written, good grammar, good mix of keywords, everything you would expect from content written for a much higher cost.

But when you looked closer there appeared to be a great many spelling mistakes within the content highlighted by the usual red squiggle under the words, but the words were not actually misspelt and it was then I realised that I had seen something similar before so I asked another question.

Have you actually typed a sentence or more of the content into a search engine manually?

‘Well No, we just cut and paste the content, why would we type it manually?’ was the response.

Do you mind if we try and see what the result is?

‘Feel free’.

So I did and lo and behold not only did Google return something from the search but it returned the exact same article, written by a completely different author.

What had actually happened was this, the copywriter (and I use the term loosely here) had advertised his services as many of them do, the client thought they were getting a great service at a great cost. What they actually got was a copied article that was then encoded using a technique known as stop words, I won’t actually go into the technical details but what it effectively does is render any words that are so encoded invisible to the search engines, so not only was the content not unique but it would actually read as gobbledegook to the search engines as well.

Of course with all the latest updates from Google being designed to target scraped content and duplicate content from such things as article farms and the like, it doesn’t take much to realise that there would be no benefit to the business if they had used this content, despite the advertiser saying it would have SEO Value, in fact if anything it could well have been detrimental.

The moral of this story of course is if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

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