[I have several keywords that I want to build sites around. I’m just REALLY paranoid about getting sandboxed. Add in the fact that I want to be able to point to, eventually, these sites as proof points that I know SEO; I want to keep everything above board. So my question to the community: * Is article marketing considered blackhat, gray hat or whitehat SEO? I define article marketing: 1. Writing an article(s) that are posted to my site. 2. Spin the same article(s) and post them to a 2.0 site(WordPress, etc…) with BL(s) to the main site for my keyword(s) 3. Spin the first article(s) again and again and post them to article sites, Squidoo, etc… with their backlinks pointed towards the 2.0 site on point 2. I’m really not certain where this lands on the SEO gradient.]
You ask a good question, however, did not provide enough detail to determine whether your methods are black or white.
Article marketing, in and of itself, is not a black hat, however, some black hat methods incorporate article marketing as the delivery system for their black hat techniques. Syndicating content is not black hat, but could be used within a black hat strategy.
Using spinning software is certainly not a black hat, however many black hat techniques involve spinning software and spinning syntax.
None of the things you mention point specifically to black hat methods yet they each and all could be used in unethical ways, and thus considered black hat. For example, the very techniques you listed could be used to build bridge pages or doorway pages which are an explicit violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines.
We would need more specific detail about how you are implementing your techniques to place a label of black or white.
In my opinion, based on my own experience, spinning at the sentence, and or paragraph level is far more effective than just spinning synonyms. It seems that Google, in particular, is able to detect most spun content when it is limited to just synonyms. You need to do at least some phrase spinning and do it on nearly every sentence to get more than a few past the duplicate content filter.
Google has made great strides in this area during the past 18 months and it seems to be an area they are currently focused on improving even more.
Nothing you mentioned would be considered a black hat in my opinion. Again, it really boils down to the exact details of how you are implementing this content. As long as your articles have value within the article, without having to visit another page, then you should be fine. But if your articles are just 500 words of ad copy, or you have to click through to another page to find anything of value for the typical user, then you’re over the line.
Perhaps spinning the way you do it is a black hat, but how in blazes are you rationalizing content, as you put it, “cannot be distinguished from a hand-written unique article” as a black hat?
Come on, when you think about it, all content is made up of words and phrases that have been used and reused over and over. Essentially all “hand-written” content is just manually spun words and phrases. And if you used a computer or typewriter, it is not even truly hand-written any more, is it? You’re not inferring that anything written on a word processor is a black hat, are you?
I share your sentiment on crappy content, but you don’t need a tool to create crappy content, do you? And if the best-written content is created with a tool, how does that make it a black hat?
My issue with your assertion is centered on the extreme over-generalization of the term “spinning”. Since all readable content is made up of words spun together by the author, that puts every article that was ever written as black hat, based on your own reasoning. Or you are implying anything not written with pen and paper, anything written on a word processor or any other type of automation is the black hat?
Your reasoning seems to totally ignore the quality of the output as a basis for judgment.
Some thoughts are best expressed in the simplest ways, however, there does seem to be an almost unlimited number of ways to light the soul afire with magnificently beautiful thoughts, expressed with differing viewpoints and styles, using metaphors, analogies and such.
Spinning isn’t just an article writing technique, it is the very essence of creativity. The primary principle of creativity is the artful spinning of concepts. To be creative you must become a spinner. The more you reject spinning the less creative you become.
I don’t see an SEO approaching any article like it is the next work of Shakespeare. However, it would be interesting to see who could do the best job of spinning Shakespeare’s work, based on the output of course.
I hope you do realize that there are many SEO’s that do take the time to produce decent content. In fact, many are of the school of thought that “content is king”. It’s not the tools, that make the difference, good or bad, it is how the tool, or technique, is used that makes all the difference.