EzSEO Newsletter #329 53

In this issue:

1. Why Content is the MOST important factor.

2. Ghost Writers Put up their Prices.

3. Tracking your Web Page Rankings.

4. Are Hyphenated domains Penalized?

5. Alternative to The Best Spinner?

Hi Again

In today's newsletter I want to tell you about my recent experience with hyphenated domains.  Are they worth buying or are they penalised by Google?  I'll tell you what I think.

Also I have an idea for anyone who is passionate about a niche and is looking for a little bit of extra work.  Plus I have finally found an alternative to the Best Spinner that I am happy with.

Let’s get on with it….

1. Why Content is the MOST important factor.

When Google Panda was introduced (again and again over the last year), it was a clear sign to Marketers that poor content would not be tolerated.  Why then do we still see courses being promoted that show you how to auto-generate content for your site or auto-blogging scripts that grab content from the web and post it on your site.

Seriously, does anyone still think that this works?

Let me tell you a fact.

I can use a software tool to auto-generate a piece of content that I can drive to the top 10 in Google in a relatively short period of time using tools to generate backlinks.

Will that make me money?

Maybe a little, at least for a short period of time.

However, as soon as real eyeballs see that content, it's lifespan will be cut short.

Google can tell if the content is satisfying searchers by the amount of time searchers spend on the site before they bounce back to Google to repeat/refine the search.

Google is also using machine learning in the hope of emulating the opinions of real searchers.  If a real person doesn't like a page, then the machine learning algorithm wont either and that page will fall out of the search results.

At least that is the goal.

Google may be a long way from getting this right (some of their search results are dreadful – I often go to Bing now for finding stuff) but get it right they probably will, eventually.

If you are using ANY system to create “unique” content, then your site won't last in Google.  That is what I believe, and that is what I have seen with some of my older websites.

You need to create high quality content if you want to survive online as an affiliate marketer or Adsense publisher.  There really is no hiding.  And don’t think that unique content is simply content that passes Copyscape.  Content not only has to be unique, but it also needs to satisfy the people who find your content in Google.

What do you think?  Leave a comment at the end of this newsletter if you have an opinion.

2. Ghost Writers Put up their Prices.

Some time ago I added a section to the Web Content Studio website.  The idea was to allow writers who have experience in using Web Content Studio to offer their services as an LSI/Themed content writer.

Two people took me up on the offer and listed their services together with a demo article.

You can read their bios here:

Web Content Studio Outsourcers

Initially, both of these writers set their rates at $5 per 100 words.  For a high quality, themed article, that is a good price.  However, over the Christmas period, both writers told me that they were getting so much work in the wake of Panda, that they wanted to raise their prices to $9 per 100 words.

Both writers now charge that and they are still getting a lot of work.

What does that tell you about the value of high quality content?

Why am I telling you this?

Well there are two reasons really.

Firstly its a way of backing up what I wrote in the first section of this newsletter.  If people are paying $9 per 100 words, they must be finding the content is well worth that value or they would go somewhere cheaper.

The second reason I am telling you is that Google's Panda update is an opportunity for writers.  If you are looking to make a little (or a lot of) extra money and can write passionately about a topic, why not consider setting up a website offering content in your particular niche.  Or why not follow the submission process to get your profile on the Web Content Studio outsourcers page?  People will pay for quality!

3. Tracking your Web Page Rankings.

Something that surprises me is that I get asked a lot how I keep track of my website rankings. Why a surprise?  Simply because I thought most people had a tool to do this.

If you own Market Samurai, they have a good rank tracking module in there so that is all you need.

I personally use a tool called Rank Tracker (you can get a free demo here), but it is quite expensive and you also need an active subscription to get the search engine updates which happen a lot.

magicranktrackerI came across a new Rank Tacking tool that is very good and quite cheap ($27).

To use the tool, you create a project for each domain you want to track.  You then enter the URL of your domain and all the keywords you are targeting.  The software will do the rest.  It will tell you which URL on your domain is ranking for which keyword phrases.

The main reason I like this tool is that it includes a feature to find some free proxies that you can use when checking your rankings.  This helps prevent those Google bans that can happen with automated tools.

Another nice feature is that the software can suggest keywords that you might like to rank for.  It does this by looking at the top 10 in Google and stripping out their meta keywords tags.  It's not perfect, but it did come up with some useful suggestions when I tried it.

This tool also has a nice graphing feature to show you how your rankings are changing over time.

Magic Rank Tracker also allows you to check your rankings in Google, Yahoo and Bing in a variety of geological locations.   I haven't tried this feature myself, but it is nice to be able to see where you rank in the US if you live in Europe (and vice versa)!

Overall this tool is a great time saver when tracking multiple keywords across your domains.

4. Are Hyphenated domains Penalized?

A few years back it looked like Google was penalizing hyphenated domains – at least the very long keyword stuffed domains with multiple hyphens.  I remember when my original domain for this newsletter was ez-search-engine-optimization.com lost most of its rankings in Google, virtually overnight.

I had a little pre-warning that this might happen, so I had already bought ezseonews.com to replace that old domain.  I simply installed my site on the new domain and setup 301 redirects from the old domain to the new one.  My rankings returned almost as quickly as they had disappeared.

It might be a surprise then to learn that in my private mentoring program I chose a hyphenated domain to build the “course” website on.

My reason for doing this was simply that I had noticed more and more hyphenated domains in Google's SERPs in the last year or so and I wanted to test whether hyphenated domains were a problem.  After all, thinking logically, good domains are in very short supply now so webmasters may have to turn to hyphens to get something decent.

For several weeks, that domain just didn't seem to be able to break into the “Authority Set“.

The site was an exact match domain for a fairly competitive term.

Every day I would check for my site homepage and every day it just wasn't there for the site's main phrase.

To be honest, I have never had such a difficult time getting my site's homepage into the authority set, but then again I haven't bought any hyphenated domains in the last few years.

Then one day, my site appeared in the authority set for its main keyword phrase.  It entered quite low down, ranking at about 350.  Within a couple of weeks it was up to 25 and it has been rising up the rankings ever since (currently #16).  This is without any aggressive backlinking.

So, why did it take so long for my site to get Google's attention?

I cannot remember where I heard or read this, but I believe Matt Cutts was asked about hyphens in domains and whether it incurred a penalty. The answer was that hyphens in domain names raises a flag with Google.  It's not that it will get an automated penalty, but it makes them more wary of this type of domain.

Could it be that my site needed to prove itself before it could be trusted?

I don't have a definitive answer to this.  All I know is that it took a lot longer for my hyphenated domain to get into the Google SERPs for the main domain phrase.

What do you think?  Please leave a comment below if you have an opinion.

5. Alternative to The Best Spinner?

I am a long time user of The Best Spinner.

However, as it has evolved and had new features added, I have found it to be increasingly slow and buggy. For example, every time I close the Best Spinner it crashes.

I have also lost documents I was working on when it crashed.

I am someone that needs to spin on a paragraph and sentence level.  The Best Spinner is just so fiddly.

The problem was that I had looked for alternatives and none of them seemed to compare with The Best Spinner.

spinchimpAt the end of December I tried out a Spinner that had been recommended to me by someone I trust.

This Spinner has a great user interface and most of all it is quick and seems to be bug free.

This spinner is called SpinChimp.

The Best Spinner costs $77 per year.  SpinChimp has a subscription option, but you can also buy a lifetime license with a single payment of $127.  I won’t be renewing my Best Spinner subscription when it runs out.

If you need to spin content, SpinChimp might be worth a closer look.  They have a free version that you can take for a test drive.  Just go to the Spin Chimp site and click on the Download link in the top navigation bar.

I'd like to hear your opinions on it.  Leave a comment below if you try it or own it already.

OK, that's it for this newsletter.  Hope there was something you found interesting.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please share using the buttons below:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

53 thoughts on “EzSEO Newsletter #329

  • Dave


    After reading your fat content course last year, I registered a two phrase match hyphenated domain. (Let’s call it best-car-insurance-reviews or perhaps best-green-widget-reviews.com) The site has quality, fat content that I wrote using WCS. Within three months, I had the site ranking at #4 on the first page of Google for green widget reviews and on the 2nd page for best green widget.

    Then overnight both keywords fell off the charts. I can see them now at something like #117 and #95. It still ranks for related keywords, but not the ones in the domain. Are the hyphens to blame? Who knows! Also, I had just started writing build my rank posts a couple of weeks before the collapse. Maybe that is the problem. Your thoughts?

      • Dave

        Andy, I think the problem may be that all my BMR posts target the two main keywords in the domain. Do you think overusing the same anchor text could trigger an automated penalty?

        • Andy

          Depends how many posts, but generally you should vary the link text and I don’t recommend using BMR with 150 words mini-posts.

          • Dave

            You’re right about varying the link text. I had posted about 20 bmr posts in the two weeks before the slap. All of them were at least 300 words with only one link (with the same keyword) in the first sentence. Have you seen a penalty for over-optimization and if so, how did you fix it?

          • Andy

            I first talked about an over-optimization penalty a few years ago. Yes, I believe it exists. What I would do in your case is get a lot of links with varied link text. This will water down the % of inbound links using that first phrase.

  • Rob Willox | WebMedia

    Don’t think that Google penalizes domain names which includes a domain and, in fact, Matt Cutts way back in 2005 recommended using hyphens/dashes as a preference to underscores. Our site has one hyphen, primarily for the reason you highlight, and ranks well for the keywords/phrases we target but as you also comment it might depend on the actual domain name itself.

    Here’s what Matt Cutts said, “To answer a common question, Google doesn’t algorithmically penalize for dashes in the url. Of course I can only speak for Google, not other search engines. And bear in mind that if your domain looks like *-*-*-*-*-*.com, that may still attract attention for other reasons.” Ref: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/dashes-vs-underscores/

    EDITED: Rob included a long domain name with dashes and the word which I removed as it was hyperlinking the URL and the domain had the word “porn” in it. I did not want Google thinking I was endorsing the site – if it existed.

    • Andy

      Sorry but I needed to edit out your example domain. Regarding that Matt Cutts post – it is from 2005 which is a very long time in search engine years.

  • Neil

    Excellent newsletter, Andy.

    Why then do we still see courses being promoted that show you how to auto-generate content for your site or auto-blogging scripts that grab content from the web and post it on your site.

    Human nature. People want to believe the “easy button” works… so they buy it, then the next one, and the next one.

    It doesn’t seem to have sunk into people’s minds that Google slammed the whole concept of building quick, low-quality, junk-content niche sites.

    The only way forward is quality. I think you’ve been saying that for ages, right? :p


  • Rudy Silva

    Andy, it seems you may be right about hyphenated domains, I have like 50 domains in one niche and 5 are hyphenated. All the other domains are ranking better then the hyphenated and i know that I have had to work harder to get the hyphenated to move up the Google ranks. The hyphenated also take longer before the appear within the first 100 rankings and then they move slowly up the ranks.

  • Ronson

    I had come across SpinChimp before but wanted to hear from someone I trusted before buying it. You convinced me but when I clicked on the link you supplied google chrome gave me a warning that it was taking material from a Polish site which had some malware on it.

    I will give it a couple of days before going back and buying when the original site has been cleaned up and the Google warning has gone.

    I have never had any recommendation from you prove to be poor value for money so I will return. I also had been been using TBS but found the latest versions were doing just too much and had slowed down too much.


    • Andy

      Hmmm. What plugin is giving you that error? I don’t get it in my Chrome.
      If you do ever get there, try to free version first.

    • Stefan

      The SpinChimp site seems to have been hacked, in the header there’s a Javascript routine that, when decoded, includes a hidden iframe from ergersbea.osa.pl, but the ergersbea.osa.pl site seems to be down so they have probably been informed about it and taken down the site.

      When searching in Google and clicking on the SpinChimp web site link there’s a warning from Google. I have notified SpinChimp via a support ticket.

  • JanPaul

    Hey Andy,

    I am also looking for a spinner, but I want to be able to use it while not being connected to the internet as well. The spinner I am going to check out is Rapid Article Rewriter. Will let you know how it goes.

    Cheers & all the best,


    • Andy

      I think Spin Chimp may check your license before allowing you to use it so you would need internet at least when starting it up.

  • Bob Wrigfht

    Hi Andy

    Hope your health continues to improve and you and your family are well.

    What is your take on iwriter (http://www.iwriter.com/login.php) they claim: … and at only 67 cents per 100 words, you can’t go wrong. I have had 4 articles produced for me at 2 or 3 $ each and they were quick and well written.

    I agree with your comments about the Best Spinner, thanks for suggesting SpinChimp, looks great, comprehensive and user friendly.

    Thanks and kind regards


  • Alan Northcott

    As a part-time minister, I put up a hyphenated website when I moved to Florida, purely to offer my services to perform weddings. No Adsense or affiliate offers. I have repeatedly put the URL around, pinged it, etc., and it still refuses to even show in any search engine listings (I use SEO Elite to check on my rankings). Not even in the hundreds!

    Whereas some stupid little sites on other topics that I put up some time ago and haven’t touched are still in there, somewhere. It’s almost like they want to ignore it. I’m still hoping that once it starts, it will zoom up the charts, but I’m running out of hope.


  • Andii

    Hi Dr Andy

    I was just wondering as i read you piece on the cost of unique and quality content going up. I couldn’t help but wonder what would be to stop someone copying that content and putting on their own site(s), thus taking away its uniqueness and making a webmasters purchase less valuable.

    I’ve never really thought about this in any detail, but it is possible right? And the only way to check this would be to periodically run some excerpts through a search engine.

    Having good quality and costly content on a website is a bit like leaving stuff on a shelf in a shop with no one to guard it, or at least that’s how it feels.

    So my question is this; would there be any way to protect ones content from theft such as this?



    • Andy

      there really isnt any way to protect your content. You could try adding one of those “Protected by Copyscape” logos on the site but ultimately some people will try it on. Make sure that you don’t show full posts in the RSS feed and that will help. The only thing going for you is that Google will have indexed your content first. There is no penalty for duplicate content across domains – Google will just rank the one it sees as the most authoritative – which should be, though not always be, the first one it finds.

  • Lane Lester

    Thanks for the heads-up about hyphens. I had a good-ranking site that had a .co.cc domain, but then Google decided all those should be penalized. I could only find a good .com with hyphens, and with 301s on the .co.cc, the new .com zoomed right up to the top. Now it’s gone into the toilet, and I guess it’s the hyphens. I’m not sure what new name I’ll find that will be at all related to the site’s theme.

    I see there are good names with .co, .me, and .biz TLDs. Maybe the .biz would work OK. Any thoughts?

    • Andy

      I would stay away from .co,.me and .biz. Also .info. The only three I would consider are .com, .org and .net unless it’s a site targeting a specific country and then I would use .co.uk, .es etc.

  • Chris

    I’ve got over 200 domains, the majority with no dashes, a quarter with one dash and a few with two. The two dash domains absolutely ARE penalized without any doubt, both in ranking and number of indexed pages (about 20% cf. single/undashed domains – there was a jump when Panda came out although that has gone back now to pre-Panda levels).

    The single dash domains rank just fine – most on the first page. Keywords/keyphrases without dashes are still the gold standard on my experience, with the fewer number of letters in the phrase the better.

    On TBS, I thought I was the only one who had it crash every time I exited it! Actually I’m getting a little annoyed with Jonathan now as he’s developing a habit of abandoning previous software in favour of the next bright shiny object – a case in point is WebCompAnalyst which he’s abandoned because of the demise of Yahoo Site Explorer yet manages to use one of the number of alternatives for his upcoming launch in February.

    • JanPaul

      WebCompAnalyst used to be a good program. It’s a pity that it’s not working any longer. Also I have the impression that when I use KeywordSnatcher I don’t get back a nice variety of keywords any longer.

  • Bill Roberts

    Hi Andy,
    in the niche i built a site for using wordpress.There is a site that is ranking very well using just about 100 words per article.I keep trying to out rank him but it isn’t happening.I think its because of his back links.And his content isn’t anything special.I also like Bing better than Google right now for search results.

    • Andy

      There are always exceptions to the rule, but backlinks wont keep the site there if the content is poor. At least that is the point of Panda, but it’s not doing too good a job just yet.

  • Sara

    I have always found it difficult to measure the quality of a piece of content. While I might think it’s brilliant, the person searching for information may not.

    Are there any variables that you might use in your analytic tools that help you understand if the user is getting the type of content that he/she may be looking for?

    • Andy

      Its a good idea to get someone else to read your content, but failing that, pick a search term you want to rank for and then think what a searcher typing in that phrase would be looking for…specifically. Does your page give them that?

  • Marc

    My comment sort of relates to the first part of this post about content. I’ve been searching high and low for ways to radically reduce bounce rates. I’ve found one “expert” on the subject who says that bounce rates often have more to do with the click happy nature and minimal attention span of the average visitor. He shows in this youtube video


    how he has achieved great results by radically restructuring his web site to accommodate these types of people. Just go to the 10minute 30second part to see an example of one of his web sites.

    I’m wondering what your take on this is and whether there is a way of taking his best ideas and using them to reduce bounce rates on blogs that have already been established.

    • Andy

      I would imagine that the type of site he has there might do badly if a Google Rater saw it. Very little info above the fold.

  • John

    Andy, my Firefox 9.0.1 sees something it doesn’t like on the Spin Chimp website. My security settings are not very tight, and I have never seen this message before. Here’s the message:

    “Reported Attack Page!

    This web page at spinchimp.com has been reported as an attack page and has been blocked based on your security preferences.

    Attack pages try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.Some attack pages intentionally distribute harmful software, but many are compromised without the knowledge or permission of their owners.”

    • Andy

      Yes mine does now too. The owner of the site has been notified of this and apparently it has been cleared. Hopefully that message will go soon.

  • Norm

    Hello Andy,

    This edition is absolutely chock full of good information. El bravo!

    Let me ask a question… Do you have any experience with the little trick of adding a “v” at the end of a domain? As in “andyv.com” ?

    I have tried it a couple of times. My problem lately is getting PR for my latest sites. Seems to be slow as snot. I just don’t know.

    About The Best Spinner… Hmmmn. I have just REALLY put it through its paces with a 1000 word article that grew to 5000+ with the rewrites.

    I’m crazy about TBS compared to what I was using, but boy, you better hit that CTRL-S button after every paragraph. And, it took me a half dozen times to generate the 150 articles for all the crashing. For whatever reason after 6 or 7 times it spit them out in a second or two. To start I had set it at 100 but it ejected a whole slew of blank pages. Strange!

    Lastly, I have a new site going now aimed at fresh daily news taken from timely pickings around the net about what is known about the Panda Google Update. (My commentary on the commentary style.)

    This is sort of a scary thing. But what the heck. Go for broke..and I may be, even saying the un-sayable name of G. Like the man said once, “Do you want to pick a fight with a company that buys ink by the barrel?”

    I’m really starting to wonder if in a year or two the only way you’re going to reliably get on page one of Google is to buy a listing. That’s basically where the Adsense 100K guys are heading with their research.


    • Andy

      Yes Norm, I have added a letter (or 2) to the end of domains to get the keywords in, but I don’t do it now unless it make sense. I prefer a word that makes better sense, or even a domain with no keyword phrase but something that is brandable and catchy.
      I don’t think we are heading towards buying a listing. I just think that sites have to be a lot better. If that Adsense 100K blueprint is the one I read, I decided not to promote it as I did not agree with some of the things they were teaching in it. I got a load of emails asking if I would by some lady, but I just deleted them all. Not sure whether they’ve updated it now though.

      • Norm

        Thanks Andy. Here’s the deal. I have come to DEPEND on you and Shane these days. You guys are well far ahead of the curve. What you say goes in my book…and I go through a LOT of opinion in a week. I’m thinking that maybe some days you don’t know how important your work is. I don’t know what I’d do without WCS. I really don’t. Though distant by miles, all I have to do is glance down at the task bar, and there is the yellow WCS logo, which is a piece of you.

        • Andy

          Hey Norm, stop it. You sure know how to make a guy blush 🙂
          Just for the record, I am always excited when I see your Avatar in the comments section. You always make my day one way or another.

  • Paul

    spinchimp’s website is throwing up malware red flags left and right. is it just me? i wanna try it, but i’m a bit reluctant now…

  • Anyetei


    I too tried to visit SpinChimp but got a message in my browser which read:

    “Reported Attack Page!
    This web page at spinchimp.com has been reported as an attack page and has been blocked based on your security preferences.
    Attack pages try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system.Some attack pages intentionally distribute harmful software, but many are compromised without the knowledge or permission of their owners.”

    This daunting message, displayed against a red canvas in my browser, stopped me proceeding to the recommended site.

  • Peter Sundstrom

    Hi Andy.

    Regarding The Best Spinner, it’s true it was very buggy about 6 months ago and when version 3 was initially released, it crashed a lot. However, I’ve found the recent versions to be quite stable (not perfect though).

    For sentence/paragraph level spinning, have you tried the Super Spinner function that was recently added to TBS?



  • Susan

    Hey Andy.

    We have a client’s website that has a hyphen in it that does VERY well in the search engines…in spite of all the crazy Google updates. I think it has to do with it being in a highly competitive market (thus warranting a hyphen), the site is build on WordPress, has keyword tagged page titles, URLs and photos, and has solid content, without being spammy.

    I think in offline marketing, the hyphens tend to make sense more often than in the online world where it seems like keyword stuffing. But that’s just my guess.

  • Mr Bearly

    G’Day Andy & readers, Google have been saying for years that “write good content and the visitors will link to you”. My experience on this is BS. My content may not be academically brilliant but I can write very readable, original content.

    I have only ever, in multiple years of writing web content and hundreds of pages, had a handful of links that I didn’t put up.

    I have pages that get outranked by those B#$%^y parked domain names with only encrypted adsense ads on them and no content at all which you can’t even -1 in Google for.

    I am hopeful that finally we really will get pages and sites ranking for their actual content rather than how many links have been created with automated tools, but I’m not holding my breath on that as I suspect Google makes more money from those crappy parked domains than they will on my sites.

    Hyphenated domain names. I don’t know, I suspect you are right but the site I get the most traffic on is a three word hyphenated domain name with a lot (4,000+ pages) of poor quality content. It has multiple page 1 pages and gets good traffic. I use it for instant links to new sites for indexing and then remove the links or write a good piece of content and use that to link to the new site. Ranking is based mainly on the page not the site.

  • Allan

    Hi Andy.

    I agree with Norm. You are one of the very few people that I trust and follow.

    Out of all the domains I have, only three are hyphenated and they all are on the first page of the big “G” within two months without any problems and stayed there (so far… lucky maybe)

    I tend to stay away from iWriter as friends who got several articles there had duplicate content issues in most of the articles they ordered. iWriter claimed the articles had been run through Copyscape and had been cleared, but when using your own Copyscape subscription the articles were full of duplicate content As much as a whole paragraphs word for word. Here is another person who you might recognize who had the exact same problem. Read her review here:


    I also moved from The Best Spinner and now use Spin ReWriter to sin articles. I have been using it for five months now and have had no problems so far:


    Thanks again for all the valuable information you give us.


  • James

    Hey Andy

    James from SpinChimp here. Thanks so much for the review 🙂

    To everybody: Sorry about the malware stuff (unlucky timing on your review Andy). Bloody hackers! It was a usual WordPress exploit, which I just happened to discover at 1am and proceeded to fix immediately. Didn’t end up getting much sleep that night. Even though we got rid of it right away, the blocks hung around for about 12 hours, but everything is all good now.

  • Carole

    Re ‘Are Hyphenated domains Penalized?’ – I’m looking for a new domain name and the only one available which I like ends with .org

    Is it OK to use .org ? Is there any advantage in using .com over .org?