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Phrase of the moment: “Article vomit”

Article VomitI saw an intriguing headline in the Wall Street Journal yesterday: “Demoted Site Cites ‘Article Vomit’ As the Reason for Its Relegation.” Ooh, yum! What on earth is article vomit?

“Article vomit” is low-quality, unintelligible, un-copy-edited, sloppily-SEO’d, over-keyworded web copy. It’s worthless filler produced by the bottom rung of copywriters.

As someone who defends good copy and often feels the need to explain why quality matters, I love this phrase.

The Journal attributes the origin of the term to Chris Knight, the CEO of SparkNet, which runs a content farm called EzineArticles.com.

An early reference to “article vomit” appears in EzineArticles blog post from June 23, 2009 attributed to an editor named Penny. The post refers to Article Vomit as a synonym for republished “Private Label Rights” content. The article instructs EzineArticles writers not to take copyrighted (or “PLR”) material and call it their own—even if they run it through software that changes the words around (a practice known as spinning).

EzineArticle’s war on vomit apparently hasn’t been a success. In the Wall Street Journal story, Knight blames “article vomit” for why his site got demoted by the recent Google search rankings change.

Web copywriters and SEO experts are still trying to figure out what exactly Google did, but my hunch is that one step they took was to invent an algorithmic way to identify—and punish—article spinning. Let’s hope we see less of this stuff. Barf.

Image via Shutterstock

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Language, Technology

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