Almost every thought you’ve thunk has already been formed by another person, in another place or time. This isn’t to say your thoughts aren’t important; this just means that humanity, as a whole, participates in this wonderful and far-reaching shared experience of thought exploration. Regardless of how they came to be, your thoughts are unique because they’re your own creation, an ethereal byproduct of your experience and your intelligence that can float away on a updraft of brainwave to change the world.

You can have the same ideas; just run them through a different filter!

You can have the same ideas; just run them through a different filter!

Oh, The Tangled Web We Weave

When it comes to your content—and, let’s be honest, it always comes down to your content—it might seem hard to come up with something unique. You may be tempted to spin that really fascinating Buzzfeed list into an article of your own (basic) design; it may seem like no big deal to change a few words here and there to brand something as your own. But spinning content is thought pollution—you don’t want to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July under the blinding lights of a stadium, and your readers don’t want to read an article full of the same old content.

Thoughtcrimes Against Humanity

When you spin content, you’re cheating yourself and your readers out of the valuable insight that is born of inspiration. Anyone can right-click on a word and abuse the thesaurus function, but doing so doesn’t create a valuable experience for anyone who’s reading your content. Not only does the piece become clumsy to read, but the meaning is often misconstrued due to poorly-chosen synonyms or awkward rephrasing to avoid penalties from services such as Copyscape. Content written from the heart flows organically, every word chosen for its own merit and place in the puzzle. When a reader both enjoys an article and finds it easy to read, they are far more likely to remain on your site, which inevitably raises conversion rates and gains you a trusting new customer.

Aside from the moral ambiguity that comes with spun content, the cold, hard fact is that it’s also plagiarism. While coming to the same conclusion is a common phenomenon, coming to the same conclusion with the same syntax, theme, keywords, and carefully-reworded section headers is suspect. Plagiarizing ideas is just as bad as swiping a Milky Way from the 7-11; it’s less tangible, but it’s still stealing.

The ending would have been the same, either way.

The ending would have been the same, either way.

Google Angry. Google Smash!

If I haven’t sent you on a good old-fashioned guilt trip in the fashion of mothers everywhere, let me offer some more logical advice: Google will penalize spun content. The search engine superstar becomes more and more like a Cylon each day. It learns our ways, adapts to our tricks, and whenever you think you’ve thwarted its intelligence, Google is just reborn on a Resurrection Ship somewhere, new algorithms ready and raring to go.

In case you’re not a Battlestar Galactica fan, this means that Google’s ever-evolving algorithms catch things like duplicate or spun content, and subsequently penalize the site with lowered search rankings. The extra effort that comes with creating unique content will provide both a certain level of enlightenment and a certain level of SEO integrity.

The Forthright of July

Let’s make this festive, shall we? Imagine if our own beloved Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, had decided to spin all his content. The man’s prolific political printing and pamphlet distribution served as catalyst to the American Revolution. Without thoughtful, original ideas on breaking ties with England, we might be celebrating St. George’s Day in April, rather than our rough-and-tumble barbecues-and-explosions day of national pride in July. Spun content is stripped of its passion, its intention, and its meaning—nobody was ever inspired to action by reading something dry or bland. When it comes down to it, content is just a fancy word for our means of textual communication. When we cheapen how we communicate, our ideas lose value; and when our ideas become rehashed and valueless, we don’t move forward.

So go home tonight and hug your family, folks. Give your son a pat on the head, light a sparkler, sing the anthem with pride, and write your own unique, inspiring, effective content.