Content Spam 2.0:
What This Means to SEO
Weird email requests lately.
One guy wanted a bid on 1,000 articles – all about apartments. I doubt there are 1,000 things you could even say about apartments, much less write 1,000 articles on the subject. And if tasked with such an assignment, any self-respecting copywriter would gouge out her eyes with a spork after a day or two. Tops.
Another request wanted a price for a weekly newsletter on work-at-home jobs. Didn’t care what I wrote as long as it contained this list of 25 long-tail keywords. This isn’t writing. It’s a jigsaw puzzle and all the pieces are gray.
The move to content-driven sites, and the endless need for green content, has been good for word grinders who can crank it out by the pound. But there’s something in the ether-sphere. A change in the digital wind.
Elance.com: Lots for Cheap
I’ve been getting writing assignments through Elance for a little more than four years. And in that time there’s been a rather dramatic shift in what buyers in the writing and translation category want.
“500 articles on pig farming. Willing to go as high as $1 per article.”
“200-page ebook download on FOREX strategies – Budget > $500”
“30 press releases; various technical topics – Budget > $250”
Occasionally, buyers are actually more concerned with quality than quantity but those buyers are a shrinking pool. And this despite Elance’s behind-the-scenes efforts to improve the quality of its job posters.
Still, those cr@pfests of work get bids – out sourced to word factories where text by the kilo is produced by (1) machines (virtually unreadable) or (2) non-native English speakers who get paid in canned goods (humorously unreadable). A client sent one of these outsourced pieces for review and in it was the following quote: “American corporations are up to the business of the monkey.”
I read that 10 times before my wife figured out that the writer (or machine) had interpreted “monkey business” as “business of the monkey.” So, the sentence, when reconstructed would read: “American corporations are up to monkey business” and even that totally sucks.
Content Spam 1.0
Sure, this kind of junk has been around for years and there have been bottom feeders on Elance since the site started operations. So, admittedly, the use of content spam has been around since search engines (1994).
But early content spam was simplistic. Cram the words sex and porn into every keyword tag and you’d show up. Keyword dense gibberish (“Can you give me a 40% keyword density across the site?”) could be ground out like hash (and not the good kind).
But now, because search engine algorithms have gotten more sophisticated, content spam has taken on a new look.
Content Spam 2.0
The days of stuffing “blue pill” in between real text are over (except for that guy in the
, and I’ll get you, you bastard!). Today, search engines want solid, informational content – something of substance, of use to the search engine user. The problem for copywriters is simple. Search engines know informational content. But they don’t know good content from a steaming pile of verbs and nouns. Philippines
This limitation has led to a huge number of posts on Elance and other freelance sites for words by the pound. Quality doesn’t get any extra credit. It’s sheer volume and plenty of it.
The Impact on SEO
This content spam 2.0 is used by site owners and SEOs to create sign posts that point back to the mother site – the center of the marketing bull’s eye. So the content ends up on blogs, on content syndication sites, on content-based sites, on sub-domains – it’s like putting up posters on construction site walls in
. New York City
And though SEO has always involved creating identifiable targets for bots and eyeballs, this off-site aspect of SEO seems to be growing in importance. Why else would some guy want 1,000 pages on apartments? He’s going to place that content spam every place he can – or you are.
Based on the number of requests for content spam posted on Elance and showing up in my inbox, I suggest that SEO is going to employ a great deal more off-site activity in the future.
Anybody know anything about apartments?