So when I get emails from people who want to write a “guest post” on my website because they want to get a backlink, I’m automatically suspicious. I don’t mind linking to something valuable, but I’m not dragging my site into the mud to link to someone who clearly doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Today, though… this one! Something in it struck me as a bit similar to military stolen valor but in the writing world. (Shameless plug for my favorite stolen valor website of all time: Military Phonies. These guys do excellent work busting out people who have no guts but want the glory, which is a pretty shady thing to do.)
Back to the marketing email, though:
I’m not going to pick this one apart. I am, however, going to share my response:
You can imagine my surprise that I haven’t gotten a response. Home Depot, GM, and Ford–an impressive portfolio. I wouldn’t think that, with those credentials, you’d need to establish yourself as the go-to writer for Tampa.
If I get a response, which will probably be, “Yes, check out my work on Ford.com,” or “Did you not read The Avengers comic books?” then I’ll update this post.
But I’m not holding my breath.
And seriously? Dude, I’m a writer.
The Text of the Spam Marketing Email
This is [name redacted].
I am working to get myself established as the “go-to” writer for the Tampa Bay Florida area, and in order to help make that happen, I want to offer to write an article for your site at NO COST to you. All I would ask is for a very brief “About the Author” section at the end of the article that has a single link in it to my website at [website redacted].
If you check my website you will see that I am very focused on high-quality content on any number of different subjects: [website redacted]
I have developed content and written for many major companies like RE/MAX, Alcoa Aluminum, Home Depot, GM, Ford, Marvel Comics; just to name a very few of the companies for whom I regularly provide high-quality content. I have a very broad base of experience and can write on virtually any subject. Also, I can provide the article to your website in either English or Spanish based on your preference.
If you would be interested in working with me on this, please reply and let me know. If not, thank you for taking the time to read this email all the same. I appreciate it.
Thanks again Angie.
[Name and physical address redacted] [Website redacted]
“In some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.”
“In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.”
It is the cardinal rule of content marketing: ONLY USE ORIGINAL CONTENT THAT DOESN’T APPEAR ELSEWHERE.
Google Chooses Which of the Multiple Identical Articles to Show on the SERPs
Google’s algorithm isn’t stupid. In fact, it’s smarter than a lot of people are. It’s only going to rank one — or maybe two — of the multiple copies of the same, exact content that dozens (or more) of websites have.
What is MySmartBlog Doing? (And Why Isn’t it Actually Smart?)
MySmartBlog gives the same content to multiple people in the same industry… and they actually charge people for it.
They’re selling people the same article, and those people think they’re doing themselves a favor by posting it on their websites.
Here’s an example of an article pushed out by MySmartBlog. See, dozens of people have it on their websites, verbatim:
Unfortunately, like I said, there’s no way Google is going to rank all those pages. When you type in an exact-match for a partial title, only two of the sites are ranked:
What Can Happen if You Use MySmartBlog?
Each person who buys this content is flirting with a Google penalty. Even if Google never hits them with a manual penalty, nobody’s ever going to see those posts through the search engines (and that’s one of the points of setting up a blog: to capture traffic from the search engines).
Here’s Google’s own Matt Cutts on article marketing and snagging content that everyone else is snagging, too:
Even in 2011, Moz called out article marketing (the same stuff that MySmartBlog is doing):
Should You Use MySmartBlog?
Here’s the deal.
Even if your own blog posts suck, you’re better off doing it yourself than you are using MySmartBlog.
Even if they’re terrible.
Original content (even with grammatical errors and a few typos here and there) beats the crap out of putting up one copy of one post that other people already have.
Don’t waste your money. Their base package is something like $100 per month… if you take 15 minutes and put together a terrible, awful, horrible, no-good, rotten blog post, you’ll be doing better than the people who are scammed into buying content from MySmartBlog.
Set a Google alert (or two, or three) for your name, your business name, or even something more general.
How to Create a Google Alert to Monitor Your Online Presence
Transcript for Video on Creating Google Alerts to Monitor Your Online Presence
Hi! This is Angie Johnston with Unique Web Copy.
I just want to show you really quickly how to create a Google Alert so you can find out when someone is talking about you on the Internet.
So what you’re going to do is log into your Google account. You’re going to go to Google.com/alerts; that’s what you pull up.
And let’s say you want to create an alert with your name, which I’ve already set up for mine, but let’s just set one up for Angela Johnston (although, please don’t ever call me Angela). Then we’re going to hit “Create Alert.”
Now let’s say I want to adjust the frequency at which I get these alerts. What I’m going to do is go to the “Edit” button.
I only want to be alerted once a day. However, I can get alerted as it happens, which means as soon as Google crawls a website that has Angela Johnston on it, I’ll get an email in my inbox immediately.
Let’s do “as-it-happens.”
The sources we’re going to leave on “Automatic.” It could alert me only when it comes up in news, blogs, anywhere on the web, video, books, discussions, or a finance category. We’re going to leave it on “Automatic” so I get all the alerts.
Naturally, we’re going to leave it in English and “Any Region.” I don’t care if this comes up in India, in England… doesn’t matter. I just want to know when someone mentions Angela Johnston on the web.
Rather than getting “Only the Best” results, I want to see all of the results. So I’m going to change that to “All Results,” and then it’ll deliver a report to my Gmail account.
So here’s what happens when you get a Google alert.
I got one on December 27, which was yesterday, and it’s for another Angie Johnston. I’m certainly not a wedding and event planner, but that’s what happens–you’ll get that email in “as-it-happens” updates. So as soon as Google crawled the web and found this result that includes the exact-match term “Angie Johnston,” it let me know that it came up.
So I’m going to update the alert, and any time someone mentions Angela Johnston on the Internet, I’m going to get a Google alert about it.
This can be really helpful if you want to know when someone’s talking about your company, your law firm, your real estate business, and particularly your name. That’s what really keeps you in the loop about when you get mentioned on the web.
That’s about it, and if you have any questions, you can call me at 808-542-5975.
Today, I discovered that thanks to Hummingbird, I’m even coming out on top for similar searches. If you query what eats begonias, you still get my page.
I really want to get into the “Featured Snippet” spot — that’s where you see SF Gate in the screenshot above — but to be fair, that site is more helpful to people who want an answer to the query.
Getting Into Google’s Featured Snippet
Where I do belong in the Featured Snippet is for queries such as how many words can fit in a tri-fold brochure. I’m in the second-place spot for that query, though, and I’m fine with that. That query links to a piece I wrote in September: “How Many Words Can Fit in a Tri-Fold Brochure?”
I keep linking to these pieces in subsequent posts, which also helps ensure they’re cemented in those top spots. (This is the first time I’ve linked back to the brochure page, though, so I’ll keep monitoring that page to watch for it to get into the featured snippet box.)
This is the Kind of SEO Copywriting I Provide for My Clients
Many of my clients ask me to write 10, 15, or even 20 blog posts per month.
First, I build a foundation for their blogs. I answer basic questions (and basic Google queries) with their posts. As the blog ages and the posts rack up, I continue to link back to those older posts — the ones that make up the foundation of the entire blog.
I look at it like it’s a pyramid. The strong, foundational posts are at the bottom, and I keep building up from there. (I’m definitely more artistic when it comes to words… so forgive my underwhelming visual.)
Want to Talk About Your SEO Strategy?
Call me at 808-542-5975. (Actually, I prefer text or email, but whatever works for you will work for me. If it’s the middle of the night, please use email or my handy-dandy contact form.)