Put Your Blog on Cruise Control with Automated Content
There’s no getting around it: generating material for your blog or website is difficult, time-consuming work—which is why there are so many people and companies out there developing solutions for automating content. Before we talk about those solutions, however, it’s worth considering what automated content can and can’t do for you and your business.
Why you shouldn’t automate your content generation
- To impress others in your industry. Automating your blog posts won’t do much to make you a thought leader in your niche. For that, you’ll need to publish content with a fresh voice and a provocative viewpoint. Which brings me to:
- To quickly create high-quality, original content. Computer programs are good at collecting, recombining, and condensing information, but real insight is a long ways off. Firms and freelancers can produce original articles, but they need more money and more guidance—and if you’re not looking for an employee, this might be more trouble than it’s worth.
- To gain customers. Blog posts win you new customers when they attest to your expertise by providing valuable information that no one else is offering. Automated content is usually too general and too derivative to do this.
Why you should automate your content generation
- To improve your visibility in search engines. Content creation’s role in SEO is pretty obvious: the more content you generate containing the keywords your customers are searching for, the better your chances of being found by them. Plus, most search engines assign more weight to sites with more pages.
- To quickly populate your site with content. While you don’t need a blog to be successful when it comes to online marketing, you do need to show that you’re an established and legitimate business. Even if your site visitors aren’t reading much of your content, knowing it’s there will make them more likely to trust you and continue studying what you have to offer.
- To supplement a more robust content strategy. Automation can fill the gaps in your existing editorial calendar, helping you devote more time to producing original posts that are full of well-written, useful information.
The two flavors of automation
There are essentially two ways to automate your site content:
- Automation software, and
There are a number of applications out there you can use to produce blog content. The most basic solutions are curation tools like Curata and AutoBlogged, which use either keywords or an RSS feed to scour the web for articles that are relevant to your industry or niche and republish them on your website. Curation tools don’t add much value, since they basically duplicate existing content.
One step up from simple curation tools are services like BlogSense and Linguastat, which modify or transform existing content into a somewhat more original and therefore more valuable product. These applications also provide deep integration with content management platforms like WordPress, so they can automatically publish content to your blog without requiring you to reformat it.
If you’re looking for automated video content, you might consider an application like Qwiki, which generates interactive multimedia presentations based on existing written and visual content on a given subject. Qwiki is in the process of shifting its focus to mobile applications, making it even more useful for real estate professionals looking to create great video content in the field and on the fly.
The second way to automate your content is by outsourcing it. You can do this in a couple of different ways. One is to work directly with a content marketing firm, which will help you determine your content parameters, then send them off to the writers, graphic designers, etc. that it contracts for the job. (Cheaper companies often employ people in places like the Philippines for this purpose.) These firms will then either hand you the finished content pieces, or publish them for you directly.
Another option for outsourcing is to recruit the content producers yourself by bringing your needs directly to the marketplace. Sites like oDesk and Contently, for instance, allow you to post projects, view profiles and writing samples, hire applicants, and monitor progress, all in one place. You can sign up for content on a per-article basis, or pay a monthly fee to have these platforms post directly to your site a few times a week.
Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, outsourcing often produces superior results than software. Nevertheless, it also requires more work and more communication than the “set it and forget it” automation applications.
Should you abandon your own content efforts in favor of a fully automated approach? Certainly not. Nevertheless, automated content can certainly give you a boost in search engine results and free up valuable time and money in your marketing budget.
Published on October 9, 2012