The shady side of the content creation business

There are unsavory people who have figured out a way to make a killing from selling cheap articles. I originally discovered in this post at the Warrior Forum (edited for brevity):

I purchased some “unique” articles, not from someone on WF, but from another community (Fiverr). I received them, and noticed they had some weird character encoding issues. When opened in certain softwares, they came up with lots of those funny square box characters. I complained to the seller, who said that they were in UTF8 and that my Mac wasn’t set correctly, sent them in another format and I was good to go.

Articles seemed to be well written, human readable and unique: I copy-pasted a few phrases into Google and sure enough, no matches. Great! Then, I copied a couple of common words from the article into google. Zero matches. Weird.

So then I TYPED [...] a phrase from the article into Google and, my article is [...] word-for-word identical with 400+ other articles… It appears that the “Unique article” seller is running the articles through some sort of “character set spinner”, meaning that the article is unrecognizable to google even though the characters “appear” the same…

This is a big problem [...] there will be a lot of people who think their content is unique, but actually it isn’t and [...] their sites are going to get slapped and they won’t know why.

Also, if your content is unrecognizable, it will have ZERO search engine optimization value…

Articles are a great way to increase the SEO value of your site. This is a known fact in many SEO and writing circles. Articles and blog posts are a fantastic way to demonstrate knowledge, share helpful tips, and position yourself as an expert, all while strategically utilizing key words in order to help search engines find your content.

I’ve written in the past about how I think outsourcing content is a bad idea, especially if you’re hiring article writers for the equivalent of $2 an hour. Hiring a qualified, knowledgeable writer can prevent all kinds of grief associated with writing scams like the one above. I do not write articles outside the few I write for my own personal interests, however as a writer I know very reputable article and blog writers who can get your blog or site in front-page shape with truly unique and informed content.

Image: Flickr | @boetter

Don’t trust your reputation to places like Fiverr. It’s a great site to find quirky people who will do even quirkier things for $5 a pop. But valuing all the words that describe and sell your business and expertise at $5 strikes me as downright dangerous – you will ultimately get what you pay for.

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2 Responses to “The shady side of the content creation business”

  1. That’s scary. It just goes once again to show the gulf between ‘content’ and ‘copy’

  2. Peter – agreed. And it further enforces the notion that content is not worth a whole lot, which is a viewpoint many business owners have these days sadly enough. Good content is invaluable. Cheap, nonsensical content is worth jack squat.

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