Autoposting Content on Your Website – Beware the Pitfalls

With the demands on your time as a business owner, you may be very tempted to auto-post content to your site. After all, you have heard of the benefits of having content on your site — in fact, many would say that unless your site has thousands of pages, you won’t even register on Google’s radar… That is true to some extent. But auto-posting content to your site is like carrying a knife to a gunfight.

What is auto-posting? Very simply, there is software you can get for a site that will automatically troll the Internet for content in public domain areas based on keywords you choose, and then post that content to your blog or website. This could be in the form of videos, RSS feeds, articles, etc. You can literally put thousands of pages a week on your site, or just a few a day. You’re probably thinking, “Thousands of pages of content on keywords that are relevant to my website? What’s could be bad about that?” The short answer — everyone else is posting that content, too. That’s what Google calls duplicate content scrape google search results. Google does not appreciate duplicate content, which is Internet speak for showing up at a cocktail party and repeating verbatim what the host is saying. Pretty irritating… Duplicate content is an issue with degrees of offense. If you put two identical articles on your website, that has a “large footprint” to Google. It’s obvious that you’re posting duplicate content, and it’s easy for them to see that.

Even if you just change one word in an article — for example, changing “Los Angeles” to “Santa Clarita, CA” — it’s still duplicate content. If you think Google is just a group of stupid servers on a farm somewhere, those computers are driven by sophisticated algorithms that have seen a thing or two… Not to mention the thousands of engineers and content cops Google employs to keep the Internet an intelligent place to be. A lesser duplicate content offense is using content in multiple places on the Internet. It’s not clear how much Google rewards or penalizes duplicate content here, nor is it clear who is clearly rewarded and punished. This is where the fuzzy logic side of Google kicks in (read: content cops); if you scrape content from a Page 1 site, and you’re a Page 1000 site, the Page 1 site will get the boost and you will lose. If the Page 1 site steals from the Page 1000 site, that’s less known, but it’s surmised that the higher ranking site will have higher buoyancy factors that will make the damage minimal. When you’re a Page 1000 site, you just don’t need penalties of any kind… Please note I’m specifically not using “Page Rank” to talk about sites, because Page Rank is merely an expression to describe the relative importance of a site, and it’s usually based on how many backlinks (and the types of backlinks) a site is getting, rather than other factors. Rather, I’m speaking in very practical terms of where your site ranks for any given keyword in your niche, not Page Rank or PR.

The other problem with scraping content and auto-posting it is the lack of control you may have. Even the best filters and plugins are still vulnerable to content spammers. Consider a case in point with a recent site I worked on. The site was filled with dozens of posts of unsavory content that the site owner did not even know they had scraped and loaded onto their site! Imagine their customers arriving for useful information and finding barely clothed women instead. NOT good for branding! The owner did everything right — they installed the content scraper, chose appropriate keywords, etc. But there are forces on the Internet who play a game; if they know there’s a large audience for a given keyword, they will usurp that keyword and include it with their spam content. The content gets scraped, loaded onto your site, and you are now spamming your own customer. Even if the content source deletes the spam content from its website, you still have it on yours!

These are a few of the pitfalls of autoposting content on your site. Saving time and finding shortcuts are good goals, just be sure you’re not alienating your site’s visitors in the process. You’re responsible for what is on your website, no one else.

Since 2011, the Google Panda updates have been setting many internet marketers on their heels. What are these updates? They are changes to Google’s search results ranking algorithm. How does these changes affect online marketers? It changes the ranking of many sites. Particularly sites that have thin or spammy content. (Thin content is considered content that has been copied from other sites. It includes using synonyms for most of the content without adding something new.) The updates are meant to push sites that are chock full of value further up in rankings and to send sites that are mostly filled with advertisement and/or thin content down in rankings and down in the search results.

Prior to the updates in 2011 it was easy for any site to rank high in the search engines for key words even if they used shady tactics that were aimed at “gaming the system.” The new changes in the algorithms penalizes these types of sites and rewards sites that offer value.

Google used to implement Panda updates to the algorithm approximately every month until the changes became lesser and more incremental. This is when Google decided to integrate the updates into its main process for indexing. The most recent Panda update, Panda 4.0, has taken place somewhere around May 19th or the 20th. It is still too early to determine all of the effects of the update. However, there are reports that some of the larger sites are already being affected. Sites like Ask.com and large press release sites.

How can you avoid being penalized by Panda 4.0? Matt Cutts points out that if you are offering poor content or content that is cut and paste then your site is probably among the sites that have been affected negatively by the Google updates. In his words of wisdom Mr. Cutts basically states that it all boils down to offering great content. What does Mr. Cutts consider to be high quality content? He states that it is content that people enjoy reading. The type of content that you would find in a book or magazine. The type that people would refer back to and send friends to. He points out that you should make sure that the content you offer is not some sort of derivative, scraped content, or duplicate.