Much Ado about Nothing – Is Shakespeare’s Monkey Writing Your Web Copy?

by Chris Hoole · 6 comments

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This is a guest post by Chris Hoole.  I wanted to publish this piece for a couple reasons.

First and foremost, like Chris I am appalled at times at the quality of the web copy found on some sites.  It’s nothing but poor, regurgitated garbage, broken English, and not fit for human consumption.

Pretty much as far from brilliant writing as you can wander really.

Now that’s not to say I’m the grammar or content police and all my shite is perfect. (Settle down boys ‘n girls!) But I do my best to only publish quality information worth a gander or two.

The second reason I wanted to publish this post is because I have a fondness for monkeys!  The furry kind, not the writing and publishing kind. 😉  Now, do your best to make Chris feel warm and welcome by dropping your comments below.

Somebody, I think, has been trying the experiment with the typewriters and the monkeys; the one where you put an infinite number of monkeys in a room, with an infinite amount of typewriters.

Eventually, so the theory goes, they will write the complete works of Shakespeare.

So far the monkeys have not come up with any major dramatic works, but a quick trawl of a certain article marketing ‘magazine’ reveals what they are producing.  They’re even writing web copy for some people.

Defining Monkey

Let’s be clear.  I’m not using the phrase ‘monkey’ as a deeply insulting dig at non-UK copywriters.  I don’t, under any circumstances approve of that sort of thing.  There are thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of writers out there.

They come from every continent and every walk of life.  There are people in the non-western, ‘third’ world as it’s patronisingly known, perfectly capable of writing in flawless English.

Plenty seem to be better at it than some UK copywriters. However, finding a true star, when it comes to copywriting is still not easy.  In the online world where we copywriters trade our wares I occasionally take a break to have a laugh at the outraged messages posted on forums about the low cost some people charge for their work.

I’ve never been clear how any writer has time to waste posting messages like that, if they intend to make a living.  Anyway, it’s called a ‘global market place’, get over it, move on and look for a job you can afford to take!

Parading the Evidence

So, time for some evidence of Shakespeare’s Monkey at work?

Exhibit A:

“When the driver of a car is quite young then there is every chance or possibility of the car getting involved in accidents. This is so because the drivers who are young in age use to be inexperienced and also they cannot take the right decisions all of a sudden.”

No, that’s true, you can’t make any teenager “take the right decisions all of a sudden” – teenage pregnancy levels illustrate that well enough.  I found that little delight on a website attempting to sell car insurance.  The web content on the site is a mix of this sort of appalling copy and nicked stuff from newspapers.

To be fair they do quote the source, but if the journalist who writes some of their content (unknowingly) finds out, the site owner might need to take out one of their own insurance policies.  One of the other gems from the site is their “Female Car Insurance” section.  How do you tell the gender of a car?

I’d like to say that this site is a one off, but unfortunately this sort of copy abounds.  As mentioned at the start of this post, one popular article directory is crammed full of it.

Exhibit B:

“Searching for a car can be very difficult and time consuming. People tend to make if even more difficult by reading many websites which suggest to look for statistics over statistics, resulting in hours and hours of research for that optimal time in which to purchase an automobile.”

There’s not much to say for this as an opening to an article.  Mistaking ‘if’ for ‘it’ is bad enough, but what on earth is the ‘optimal time in which to purchase an automobile’?  Could it be Friday afternoon?  Monday morning?  If I hadn’t wandered towards my back button, I might have found out.

It’s this kind of web copy that has been hit by the recent Google ‘Farmer’ update.  Specifically aimed at so called Content Farms, which churn out poor quality badly written copywriting, this particular site suffered a reported drop of around 35% in its traffic as a result of the new algorithm.  Considering it claims to only accept ‘high quality, original articles’, I think it probably deserved that drop.

Too Harsh?

Of course, now I’m beginning to feel guilty.  I’m not having a go at the copywriters of these masterpieces.  If they got paid for the work, good luck to them.  The people that are paying them are the monkeys in reality, believing that this kind of poor quality copywriting is of any use to anyone.  Users are bright these days: a lot of us go to page two of the search results for a start, having become bored with irrelevant results and PPC campaigns.

SEO experts will probably work this out eventually and when they do we’ll be able to go back to good old page one!  Article directories that publish this kind of poor quality copywriting are also to blame.  Their standards should rapidly improve, we hope, as a result of the Google updates, but only time will tell.

The Monkey’s Waterloo

Web copywriting, article writing and Blog posting have seemingly taken over the world of internet marketing.  SEO Copywriters are everywhere and obtaining content isn’t difficult.  However, obtaining quality copywriting from a professional web writer is as hard as ever.

For anybody looking for web content, beware of the masses of poor quality rubbish that is floating around.  Quality creates quantity – high search rankings, trust from users, repeat visits all combine to produce the quantity of sales you are looking for.  For internet users, SEO experts, marketing professionals and copywriters, there is some light at the end of the fibre optic tunnel.  For users, search engines are targeting good quality content, so results should become relevant and worthwhile again.

For marketers and SEO professionals, as long as you leave the monkeys alone to get on with writing their dramatic masterpieces, using the best talent the internet has to offer will keep you ahead of the game.  For copywriters, it seems that those monkeys are finally facing their Waterloo!

So BGB’ers.  Did you like this post?  Find it useful, interesting and/or entertaining?  You can help BGB grow by spreading the love and sharing it with your friends.  All efforts are appreciated and comments are welcome too.

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