Article Spinning: how to match your message to your audience

Article Spinning: how to match your message to your audience

Reaching different audiences with your message can be frustrating. An article that works well with keywords used by one audience may miss the target for another. Trying to include something that works for everyone can leave your content messy, difficult to read and satisfying no one. This is the problem that article spinning tries to overcome, by creating versions of an article that appeal to your different audiences. 

In this article we’ll outline what article spinning is, how to spin an article for different keywords and why it can benefit your content marketing beyond search engines. We’ll also look at some ways you can harm your business if you get it wrong.

What is article spinning?

Search engine optimisation works by creating copy that uses specific words and phrases your target audience are using. These keywords are spread through the copy in a way that is both readable to the user and gets a high score from a search engine. A high score means your page will appear earlier in search engine results and bring more potential customers in. The difference between being on pages 1 and 2 on Google can be significant.

One challenge is finding the right audience for the copy. Content such as blog posts and feature articles are usually written for a single audience. This focus makes it easier to include the right keywords and phrases that appeal to that target market. Problems emerge when you target more than one audience as copy can quickly lose focus and become unreadable to people and search engine alike.

Article spinning takes a single core piece of content and reworks it to appeal to specific audiences. Rather than trying to cram different messages into one piece, multiple pieces are created that are optimised separately. This is not writing fresh pieces for each though, it’s about taking that core message and adjusting it for each target market. 

Use article spinning to match your content to your target audience. Not just with keywords, also use their language and terminology.

How does article spinning work?

Article spinning starts with a core piece of content, usually a blog post or long-form article. The piece is written for one audience and includes target keywords and phrases. Once agreed, the target keywords are swapped for the next audience’s and the affected sentences and paragraphs rewritten. Other changes, such as paragraph order, might also be made to avoid plagiarism and duplicate content warnings being triggered in search engines.

For example, the following text is aimed at financial managers and features keywords in bold italics:

The widget feature lets customers access real-time trading data, reducing their need to call support lines. The cost savings can be significant, with early testing showing at least a 30% reduction in call volumes and return on investment of 52% in the first quarter.

A simple keyword swap for customer services managers would produce this text:

The widget feature lets customers access real-time trading data, reducing their need to call support lines. The cost savings can be significant, with early testing showing at least a 30% reduce call volumes and increase customer satisfaction of 52% in the first quarter.

This text doesn’t make sense and has inaccuracies. A spun version of the text might be:

The widget feature gives customers real-time access to trading data, which early testing has shown customer services can reduce call volumes by 30% and increase customer satisfaction by over 50%. Operating budgets also benefit, with the new features paying for themselves within 3 months from cost savings alone.

This crude example shows how the same message (the benefits of the new widget) could be spun to target different audiences. The financial managers have phrases that appeal to them, with an emphasis on return on investment, while customer service managers focus on increasing customer satisfaction.

How do you use Article Spinning

Posting spun articles onto a blog or newsfeed can be problematic. The repetition can be harmful to newsletter subscriber numbers, social media follower counts and engagement. All of this can work against you and do more harm than good in the short-term.

Like any targeted content, spun articles work best when shared with the audience they’re aimed at. Use this when planning your promotion strategy.

How you set up your website content management system is the first place to tackle these issues. For WordPress users we suggest a toggle that allows you to suppress a piece of content from appearing in the general blog feed and using different categories and tags for each version. This will display a general version on the home page, then specific versions for different audiences depending on where the visitor is.

With Social Media, we suggest rotating the different versions through your feeds. For example, if you share new posts 4 times over 2 weeks, we’d suggest sharing the different versions as part of this cycle, adjusting the messaging to suit. This will both seed search engines and make your messages more relevant to specific audiences.

You can use the same approach if you’ve segmented your mailing lists to match your audiences. We’ve also used this technique with account managers and sales staff who send their key contacts regular mailings. A relevant message that speaks the language of your audience is more likely to connect with them and trigger action.

What can go wrong? 

Article spinning is not without its challenges. Creating 3 or 4 different versions of content takes additional time and budget. It also means there are more items in your content management system that need to be reviewed and amended regularly. We tend to recommend spinning is reserved for supporting specific marketing activities rather than used in the general course of blogging.

There’s also a risk of triggering plagiarism and duplicate content warnings if the spun articles aren’t significantly different from one another. Swapping paragraphs around may not be enough to avoid this, particularly if you’re trying to protect your content against possible future penalties. Our approach is to ensure every paragraph and most sentences are touched in some way to combat this.

Finally, there are questions about whether the technique works. Traffic to each individual page can be lower than a single, generic page. While the performance of individual pages is important and should be reviewed, we prefer to focus on the package of content to assess return on investment.

In summary

Article spinning is a valid technique for creating versions of a core message that appeals to your different target audiences. Done well it’s a useful marketing tool to create copy that’s friendly to search engines and readers. Done poorly it risks triggering warnings that could penalise your content. We suggest using it to support specific marketing activities, suppressing the multiple versions from appearing in general blog feeds and creating versions that are substantively different from one another.

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