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The Experiment So Far

This site was set up as 1) a tool I could use to find good curated content, and 2) an experiment in automatic curation. So far, the experiment has been a resounding success. I will note a few of the more interesting results in this post.

First, the site is not old at all. The very first “automatic curated post” was made on 3/25/2012 (less than a full month ago from this date – 4/22/2012). Today, so far today there have been 165 unique visitors, 250 page views, and 4 repeat visitors. In less than a month…

…and there are NO links to this site other than trackbacks. SEO Quake tells me there are ZERO backlinks to the home page, and ZERO backlinks to the domain. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

And, the site is made up of 100% curated (duplicated) content. Three of the 700+ posts made so far are unique (including this one). Every post is “kicked off” according to where we sit in the Google Trends cycle for the day (I’m not going to try to explain the code involved for that), and consists of a few Yahoo news feed summaries plus a few Amazon and eBay products. Comments are automatically generated from Yahoo answers.

Post Panda, this is not supposed to be working.  No way, no how.

The site is getting dozens of top 20 rankings. Dozens. For trending news. Take this one, for example:

/tag/secret-service-prostitution-sting/

As I write this post, it is sitting at the #4 position for the search phrase “secret service prostitution sting” on Google – two days after it was posted!

#1 is Huffington Post.
#2 is WUSA9.com (whatever that is)
#3 is msnbc.com
#4 is curationclub.com/tag/secretserviceprostitutionsting/

Heck, I’m beating Washington Post, WikiNews, and Chicago Tribune for this story. Man, I’m absolutely blown away. If this was the only one, I could chalk it up to coincidence – but it’s not the only one. Not even close to the only one. (For google.ie – Ireland – I actually own positions #2 and #3 for the phrase).

Observations

The first thing that is noticeable is that most of the top rankings are tag pages. My auto-posting script reads through the Google Trends feed, pulls the content based on a given trend “phrase”, creates the post and assigns a new category and tag using the phrase. In the case of the result mentioned above, the exact phrase was “secret service prostitution sting”.

Tag pages are apparently pretty powerful in the eyes of Google.

Not all of the top rankings are tag pages, but the ones that are not are for more obscure phrases – like “humber”. This found itself in the #6 position for ” white sox humbert rebroadcast”.

Some pages just “luck out”, especially if other sites determine the phrase as being unworthy of attention.

All of the posts are a relatively random mixture from different sources. News feed from Yahoo, products from Amazon and eBay, comments (questions and answers) from Yahoo Answers. The feed sources I chose may or may not return content based on whatever keywords are used, so each post is slightly different from the last.

Mixing content in a random fashion works, even if it is mostly duplicated.

Since the content is primarily based on Google Trends, it is always going to be what Google thinks should be important at the time. I’m really not sure if this technique will work with less trendy keyword phrases (although I’m going to experiment with that too).

Giving Google what it wants is a pretty good strategy.

So, I’m going to sign off for now. I will keep reporting what results I’m getting as they happen. If you like this experiment, and wish to see it continue, consider donating a few bucks to keep it going. Thanks!

Curating with Zemanta

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I have to admit, I’m a Zemata convert. It really is a cool tool, and can be used to do a lot of things formerly done with poorly executing and blog clogging plugins (none of my plugins are like that, of course 🙂

What is Zemanta? Zemanta is a free tool (extension or add-on) that installs not in your blog, but in your browser (I recommend Google’s Chrome for to many reasons to list here). It is not automatic, so don’t expect it to work for auto-blogging. The Zemanta panel opens up in the right sidebar of the post editor, and after you start typing, it auto-magically starts to provide suggestions of images, articles, links, and other content you can add to your post to make it look very professional indeed. If you sign up with Zemanta (free), you can further tailor the tool to meet your specific requirements by adding additional “sources” (flickr accounts, other blogs you own) to your account. Zemanta, when it runs, will search through all of those sources for additional content you can add. (Note – the source must have an RSS feedfor Zemanta to use it).

How to Start Using Zemanta
Zemanta

Image via Wikipedia

Simply go to http://zemanta.com. On the home page you will see a download button. The text on the button will correspond to the browser you are using (i.e. – it will say “Google Chrome Extension” if you are using Chrome, “Internet Exlorer Extension” if you are using IE, etc.). Click on the download button and follow the easy instructions and prompts. You may be asked to restart your browser to complete the installation, or it may restart automatically.

Now, go ahead and browse to you dashboard and click on “Add Post”. You will see the Zemanta “box” open up in your side bar under the Publish button. The box will have a title of “Content Recommendations”. Start typing – Zemanta requires a minimum number of characters to get started, and will let you know when it is ready to start it’s magic. Once activated Zemanta will start populating its sidebar area with image thumbnails, related articles, references that can be hot-linked inside your post, and tag suggestions. As you continue typing, the choices become more focused on your content.

If you see an image thumbnail that looks good, simply hover your mouse cursor over it, and a preview appears. Click, and it’s added to your post. You can also change alignment and size of the image easily.

If you like an in-line text link (reference) , click on it and the proper keyword will be linked in the content. Change your mind? Click on it again, and the link is automatically removed. If you like all of the reference suggestions, click on apply all and all of the links are added automatically.

Related articles, including other posts on your blog you may want to reference, are added at the end of the post. Again, clicking on the related article suggestion automatically adds the link, clicking on it again removes it. This is so easy it’s child’s play.

Ever hear about blog-to-blog trackbacks? They are automatically generated when you link to someone else’s blog (they might have to approve them first). It’s reciprocal – you link to their blog, they link back using a trackback. Other blogs are included in the related articles area, so it’s easy to get a little link-love using Zemanta.

Amazon Affiliates– Read this!

Image representing Amazon as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

One of the sources available through Zemanta is Amazon. In your preferences, set up an Amazon affiliate ID and post away! If there is a good suggestion for an Amazon product, Zemanta will tell you about it, and you can add it to your post. Recent tests have revealed that web visitors are far more likely to click on an embedded linkthat they are to click on a banner ad.

Although I am still experimenting with it, I am thinking other affiliate networks should be available as sources via their RSS feeds. I am still looking into this, and I will post an update once I figure it out.

I write blog posts for pay (shhhh, don’t tell Google 🙂 I have started using Zemanta to make those posts look better and keep the people who pay me happy. After all, who wants to pay for a boring, dull looking blog post? Now, you too can make your blog look professional by using Zemanta. Starting today! ‘Nuff said.

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The breaking news and utilities available here are free for now. If I get enough donations, I will keep it that way.