Revealed: what you get when
you pay $5 for an SEO article...

I've long wondered what buyers actually get when they pay 'peanuts' for SEO articles or other copywriting on sites such as Elance, Fiverr and others of their ilk. I'd heard about the problems with poorly-written copy, writers who don't have English as their first language and so on... To find out what us professional copywriters are up against from the so-called copy mills, I recently tried a little experiment. Here's what happened...

A reasonably challenging brief for Fiverr's writer

I set up a reasonably challenging topic and a brief, then sent it off to Fiverr with my $5. I'd chosen a supposedly 'five-star' SEO article writer based in North America with well over 200 'excellent ratings' – and despite the fact that it didn't bode well for the result, I consciously overlooked (until now) the fact that they spelled 'article' incorrectly in their video on the Fiverr site.


My brief was enough to challenge the writer, had a couple of specific requirements, which I knew could be answered with a Google search, and included three keywords/phrases to be included in the finished 500-word article.

TOPIC: The Wells Turbine and wave energy generation. Keywords and phrases: wave energy generation; renewable wave energy; tidal and wave energy. Written for a UK and European audience. Include the role of Mr Alan E. Hidden in the development of wave power energy devices (including the Wells Turbine).

I wrote to the same brief

By way of comparison, I'd research and write for one hour to the same brief.

The topic is known to me, but not in any great detail despite reference to my late father and one of his work colleagues – I just grabbed it out of the air for the purposes of this exercise and I've never done any research on the subject so I had to use the same online process as Fiverr. To balance things up a bit, I gave myself a longer list of keywords and phrases to incorporate into the article:

  • wave energy generation
  • renewable energy generation
  • renewable wave energy
  • wave energy devices
  • wave energy generator
  • tidal and wave energy
  • renewable energy uk
  • wave energy facts
  • green energy solutions

I gave myself an hour to research and write, just as I've done so many times since going freelance in 2006.

The article came back earlier than expected

Fiverr's writer delivered the job within 24 hours, which was sooner than the estimated delivery time. A good start – promising long and delivering short always goes down well with clients. I do it myself. Here's the Fiverr result when copied from the supplied .txt file and dropped straight into MS Word:

And a few observations:

  • 459 words (okay, plus or minus 10% is an acceptable range of variation).
  • No reference to Mr A. E. Hidden despite the information being available on Google and the connection with Professor Wells being easy to make.
  • The Wells Turbine is referred to as the 'well turbine'
  • Professor Alan Arthur Wells is referred to as 'Mr. Arthur'
  • There are various other careless typos that should have been obvious from even a cursory check.

That's just the detail. Add the fact that most of the article is a decidedly generalised essay on renewable energy, rather than an article dealing more specifically with the Wells Turbine, and it starts to unravel as a credible piece of content. Apart from basic paragraphing, no effort has been made to format the article for the web, use subheads, or place keywords and phrases prominently for SEO purposes either.

My version

Now here's my version (written before I received the Fiverr article back). The image shows how I've placed the (longer) page keyword-set. My version took an hour, at which time I stopped writing. In practice, I would do a little more editing and checking before publication.


The Wells Turbine and
wave energy generation

With more and more talk in the media about the importance of renewable energy, wave energy generation seems to have taken a less important role compared to solar and wind generation methods. Regardless of the evolving story of renewable energy generation, look deeper at the history of wavepower energy generation and you will discover an ingenious invention. It’s called the Wells Turbine and has undoubtedly played an important part in the development of renewable energy generation using waves.

Maybe one day, as other sources of power generation become increasingly expensive, wave power will be more important. Whatever happens with tidal and wave energy, there’s no denying that this clever British invention played a vital role.

Wave energy generation and the Wells Turbine

The Wells Turbine is an elegant manifestation of low-pressure air turbine technology. It was developed by the (now late) Professor Alan Arthur Wells at Queen’s University, Belfast in the 1970s.

Developed for use in wavepower generation plants, the turbine exploits the rise and fall of a water surface in an air compression chamber. This produces an oscillating air current, which rotates a bi-directional turbine: the blades generate a turning action whichever way the air column is moving.

Few commercial wave energy generation installations

Since its invention, the Wells Turbine’s commercial applications have been limited. That said it’s one of the undeniable wave energy facts that a Wells Turbine, in a device called the Limpet 500, was installed on the Scottish Isle of Islay in 2000 to generate 500kW of electricity.

At the time, the shore based wave energy generator was considered particularly significant by some commentators because it demonstrated the viability renewable wave energy generation. There was also talk that if Britain harnessed only 0.1% of its shores’ wave energy it could meet all of its energy requirements. Nearly 15 years later this still hasn’t happened and other green energy solutions seem to have outshined wave devices…

More recent wave energy devices

More recent wave power energy generator technology has evolved with devices more akin to ‘snakes’ of floating chambers on the surface of the sea, or giant underwater windmills, rather than the pioneering technology of the Wells Turbine’s enclosed oscillating air column.

Generating equipment such as the Harland & Wolff-built 1.2MW SeaGen has taken the form of giant reversible underwater windmills and now produces electricity with some success. SeaGen, which went into service in 2012, is installed in the narrow mouth of Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough. Interestingly, it was developed with input from Queen’s University. How appropriate given that the university was the birthplace of the Wells Turbine as when Professor Wells and colleagues such as Alan E. Hidden formed a local hotspot of renewable wave energy research.

The future of wave energy generation?

Only time will tell whether the Wells Turbine will gain favour with energy generation authorities and contribute further to renewable energy for UK consumers. Whatever the future role of wave energy generation in the UK’s plans to generate 10% of its power from renewables by 2020, the invention remains a shining testament to the ingenuity and innovation emerging from 1970s Northern Ireland.


Conclusions? As we know, you get what you pay for

I feel that the two documents speak for themselves, a viewpoint supported by those who have seen them side by side. If you just want 'content' pay Fiverr or one of its peers. But if you want properly written content, there's no comparison. I think you will find that Google and the other search engines would agree with me too – especially since the latest algorithm changes , which have put the emphasis back on quality original content again.

Good copywriting, whether it's for the web or print, isn't a cheap commodity and shouldn't ever be treated as such. If you would like some properly written SEO content we should talk. It'll cost you a bit more than £3.60, but I think you'll agree that it's worth the difference.

For more information or a free quote, please call 01242 520 573 or email me






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