10 Reasons to Avoid Automated Blogging

I’ve recently come across so many misconceived notions (and outright lies) about automated blogging that I thought it best to share my white hat perspective on the subject.

So, what is automated blogging?

Also known as automatic blogging, autoblogging, splogging and scraping; automated blogging is the process of using software to “scrape” content from other blog feeds and repost it automatically to your own blog.

Sellers of automated blogging software and plugins scream the praises of the magic ‘set it and forget it’ phenomena — being able to set up a blog that self-generates content and requires no work, i.e. “If you can copy and paste, you can do this”. They claim that because Google loves regular infusions of content, your automated blog will get ranked high and you will make piles of money.

In other words, automated blogging software is the lazy blogger’s dream tool.

Proponents will argue that autoblogging is valid because:

  1. Grabbing content from an independent blog owner is no different than re-posting an article from EzineArticles or other article directory.
  2. Republishing a blog’s feed is entirely legitimate.
  3. It is a good SEO technique that brings HOARDS of traffic.
  4. “the whole point to syndication is the “fair exploitation” of information for the greater benefit of the reader without claiming ownership in exchange for being an authority and/or recompense oof some kind?!!”
  5. You can build a subscriber list.
  6. It makes money.
  7. The post benefits the original writer by linking back to the original post.
  8. Builds reputation as a ‘curator’.

All of the above statements / assumptions are SO very WRONG!

Here are 10 reasons why you should NEVER engage in autoblogging.

  1. It’s STEALING – Part 1

    Reposting other bloggers’ content without their permission is STEALING. If a blogger has a copyright notice posted on their blog, you may NOT simply copy their content. Read my DMCA notice for example.

    No part of this website may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, or otherwise, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, or transmitted by e-mail, or used in any other fashion without the express prior written permission of the website owner.

    That means NO One has permission to republish information from my site, feed or otherwise without my permission… and I DO give permission to those who request it… but certainly not to autobloggers.

    BTW, I find it entirely laughable that certain ‘gurus’ post the same copyright and DMCA notices on their autoblogs.

  2. Autoblogging creates duplicate content

    Read Matt Cutt’s post about search engine spam which states “we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content”.

  3. It’s STEALING – Part 2

    When you create duplicate content you are STEALING from the original poster.

    Here is a comment I received recently from Cynthia Carpenter, a REAL blogger, on the subject of duplicate content.

    I’ve had my stuff stolen and republished that cost me points with Google and far too much time in rewriting because of it.

    One article has been linked back several times but you couldn’t organically search it for awhile, I assume this is because of the number of times it was re-published (ie stolen) and not credited.

    It was originally made popular by Stumbleupon with over 4K hits and then dutifully stripped naked by thieves.
    Although it seems like I have been somewhat forgiven for the sin’s of others it still doesn’t rank like it should.

    You’d think this would have been a boon but it worked the opposite because the plagiarists claimed credit so I think I just got painted with the same brush and the ones that did credit me didn’t count. (the circle of doom)

    I too have had similar experiences, where the duplicate content has ranked higher than the original post.

    I do NOT blame Google – I blame the thief.

  4. Automated blogging is lousy SEO

    Google’s focus in 2010 / 2011 shifted to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, they launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites (splogs, automated blogs) to reduce the likelihood they’d ever rank in the search engines.

  5. It’s STEALING – Part 3

    I BUY stock photography from iStockphoto that is used in my posts. When autoblogging software uses that photo in their post, that webmaster is stealing from iStockPhoto and the original photographer.

    For example, here is a screenshot of my High Comment Count = High Google Ranking post on Affaholic, which steals photos from me everytime I post. (They do NOT have my permission to repost my articles, BTW.)

  6. You Won’t Build a Brand or Reputation

    Ultimately, your goal as an internet marketer is to build a brand name with a good reputation.

    Autoblogging makes that impossible.

    Without adding YOUR own thoughts and comments, you become just another ‘traffic redirector’. You have no authority. No credibility. No one will ever visit your site again unless by some fluke they find your site in the engines… which of course, is NOT likely to happen.

  7. It’s STEALING – Part 4

    Reposting photos that link to the photo also steals BANDWIDTH from the original poster.

    BANDWIDTH is money.

    How do you feel when someone steals YOUR money?

    Remember how Affaholic was stealing my photos?

    Well here’s my antidote. I just replace the photo that they stole with a notice…

  8. Autoblogging will RUIN your Reputation

    A so-called ‘internet guru’ recently try to convince me that his autoblog (which stole content from my site) was in fact a ‘curation’ blog.

    This is a CURATION AUTOBLOG that gets content from other sources which allow content to be shared. That’s the whole purpose of content right, and why you’re also writing and optimizing them.

    He obviously doesn’t understand the term “curation”.

    Imagine a museum piled high in archeological artifacts with no explanation.

    Now enter the curator who categorizes, organizes and adds descriptions and now the presentation makes sense.

    REAL curation involves adding your own thoughts and commentary to the original poster’s article snippet.

    Doing anything less is being a lazy spam blogger.

  9. No traffic – No subscribers – No money

    When you read between the lines of an automated blogging software seller’s salespage, you’ll discover that each blog may make $1 – $2 per month – most likely with Adsense. You’d therefore need 100′s of these blogs to make a real income. If you use good hosting which costs $6.95 a month and an autoresponder service to build subscriber lists for each of these blogs, you’d be spending money.

  10. Waste of Money

    All of the reasons above should convince you that buying and using automated – scraper – autoblogging software is a complete WASTE of money and I’m quite sure that wasting money is NOT your ultimate goal for your internet marketing business.

Want to make money online over the long-term?

Don’t be fooled by scammers’ ‘easy, automated solutions’. There aren’t any. You gotta do it right and ‘doing it right’ means investing time and effort.

If you’re willing to do that, I’m willing to teach you how it’s worked for me over the past 15 years. And I didn’t have to scam a single soul out of a single dollar in the process.
.

Comments

  1. says

    As soon as you issue an RSS feed you’re just asking for trouble Ros. You can huff and puff all you like but an RSS feed is an open invitation to be ripped off.

    Yes, I know that’s not how they’re supposed to be used and I know you’ve never copied any CDs onto your ipod, or ripped a DVD to watch on your ipad…

    Everyone does it, so rather than ringing your hands just cut off the easiest ways to be plagiarised, namely the RSS feed. If everyone with a decent blog did that scraping and splogging would starve (and I don’t think traffic would drop either – visitors would just ‘visit’ instead of scanning through their RSS reader).

    • says

      Hey Chris,

      I know you’ve never copied any CDs onto your ipod, or ripped a DVD to watch on your ipad…

      Actually, you’d be right – so nope… NOT ‘everyone does it’.

      Maybe I should bend my arrow a bit, but as an author and publisher, I’m uber-sensitive to copyright. If I speak against copyright theft, it means I don’t engage in it either.

      Nor will I put a 20-foot high solid steel wall around my house to protect myself from thieves, which would also keep my friends out.

      If my friends want to read my work in a reader – they can do that. If the foes want to rip me off, I’ll expose ‘em.

      Cheers,
      Ros

    • Lynn says

      On my sites, which are all self-hosted WordPress sites, I have the Reading settings under “For each article in a feed, show… ” set to “Summary” instead of “Full Text”

      I do not offer a RSS subscription, but it doesn’t stop my feed from being accessed anyway. Pretty much if you are on any website, the browser bar at the top offers the orange square “Subscribe to this page”.

    • says

      Hi Lynn,

      I think that’s the best way to set up your RSS feeds unless you are selling subscriptions on Amazon — then you must show full text.

      And you are exactly right — anyone can access an RSS feed unless it’s behind a membership site.

      Cheers,
      Ros

  2. says

    Great post, Ros :) Re your point 1, my understanding is that you own the copyright to your original work even if you don’t have a notice such as yours posted on the site. Simply publishing the work creates the copyright.

    I love the way you replaced the stolen image :) I once saw someone do that with a picture of a steaming turd! LOL

  3. says

    Rosalind,

    I’m with you on this! Full automation is great for manufacturing physical products that you want to be identical. But it’s a terrible way to generate anything (like blog content) where the value is based on original thought or expression.

    Of course, we call use tools to automate the “grunt work” parts of our brain work jobs (eg. we use WordPress to create pages for our blog posts, set up links between our pages, add our new posts to our RSS feeds, etc., and we use feed readers to automatically fetch the feeds that we read — perhaps for inspiration to help us come up with ideas to write about). Where people cross the line is when they hook their grunt work content consuming tools up to their grunt work publishing tools without any human intelligence (content selection, commenting…) in between.

    I do think that it’s possible for a curator to create value through careful content selection without necessarily adding their own commentary. Consider the success of sites like Slashdot, for example. However, you’ve got to be a really good curator to create a lot of value and build a following that way. There’s no way you could do that with full hands-off autoblogging tool.

    I used the “website” field above (ie. click my name) to link to an article I wrote a while back on this subject, talking about the continuum of content generation methods stretching from scraping and autoblogging on one end, through curation and “Blog Riffing”, to creating 100% original content on the other end. Hopefully that’ll help people get a clearer perspective on the issue.

  4. Matthew says

    Your contents will never get old & outdated. It is always applicable and useful for many ages to come.

    With regards to your story above, I wonder if using a software to check whether people are stealing your contents is good to invest. Does it really work?

  5. says

    Wow, I had no idea automatic blogging existed. Thanks for the advice, I’ve just added the disclaimer on my blog. With all my photos and original ideas I would hate someone to steal my work.

    Thanks Again!

  6. says

    Hi Ros,

    People have sent a backlink to my site with the link of my article on their site. Is this still scraping and do I get them to remove it?

    Thanks, Ken

  7. says

    Another great post, Ros. I agree with you when it comes to copyright theft. I don’t like it and it makes me angry. I used to be a magazine photographer way back in the 80s and I have found my work on tons of websites. Heck, one guy even used my photograph on the case cover of a DVD he was selling.

    These days, I find photos being hot-linked from my sites and my articles appearing verbatim on other sites (without the proper credit of course). I’m a peace and love kind of guy, but enough is enough and I’m getting cranky in my old age.

    My friends think I’m kind of uptight because I don’t copy movies or music CDs and pass them around. I don’t like people stealing my work, so I don’t steal the work of other people. How hard is that to understand? One of the greatest rules to live by is, “If it’s not yours, don’t touch it without permission.”

    OK, I’ve had my mini-rant now. I hope all is well in your world.

    As always, Ros, thanks for doing all that you do.

    All the best,

    Tim

    • says

      Tim,

      I love your idea of a ‘rant’ even if mini. Stick with me, I’ll show you how to really put on a good one. LOL

      I’m SO with you about “If it’s not yours, don’t touch it without permission” or as my daddy repeatedly stressed, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Pretty basic good rule to live by.

      Cheers,
      Ros

      P.S. I hope you took the guy who stole your pic for the DVD cover down big time.

  8. says

    This is an enlightened for me. I’ve received so many offers in my email about this kind of software. I must admit that it does really catch my attention & gives me the urge to buy one. Who wouldn’t? It’s easier than writing your blog almost everyday & assuring you income. I’m just human to feel this way. But after reading your article, I can say i made the right decision of not getting one. I wouldn’t like my writing, my work to be stolen just like that. Thanks a lot!

  9. says

    Once you get on one of these “autoblogging” sites, it seems you get pounded by the scrapers.

    I just had to actually have the company I deal with for my internet servers put a permanent firewall block on one company that has been hammering away at several of my sites.

    Sure, the 1000% increase in traffic would be nice if it meant something!

    I don’t mind having people syndicate my content via RSS if it’s legit and credit is given, but there are just so many people out there doing this now to make some passive income from Adsense it’s terrible!

  10. says

    The excuses people make for stealing content from others’ websites always amaze me. That it’s wrong should be obvious, yet many claim to not have realized that. There’s plenty of content to be had legitimately from article sites; if they want to curate content, they can take them from there and have no fears of losing their hosting or AdSense account due to DMCA complaints. If they want to link to specific blog posts, take a relevant quote, link, and discuss the article. They’d have a chance of building a decent reputation that way if they’d bother.

    • says

      There is an entire generation (and a significant portion of the previous one) which doesn’t see anything wrong with copying stuff just because it is so simple to do. They don’t think it’s stealing because they haven’t taken the original.

      I’ve heard the reasoning that they wouldn’t have paid to buy it anyway, so the owner isn’t missing out by them copying it.

      But scraping is a level beyond just illegal copying. It is using the illegal copy for gain. As you point out, there is lots of stuff that can be used legitimately, so why don’t they stick with that?

  11. John Potts says

    A link to source attached to a teaser is a useful (essential, even) service to all players. Always worth politely checking with source, though, as some people do get irrational about fair use’s free publicity – even a couple of sentences can dislocate their reason.

    • says

      John, check out the definition of fair use and you’ll see that it requires that the copied text make up a small portion of the article that copies it. A teaser taken from the article and a link to the article doesn’t qualify as fair use.

      If you write an article about the topic, then copying a teaser and including a link is fair use. Just a collection of teasers and links is not. You need specific permission from each source to do that.

  12. says

    One thing i would add, this is always going to happen, especially if your posting great content – wespecially content that ranks on first page of Google for terms that are being searched for highly.

    I greatly despise of it as much as i despise of PLR – but thats a whole different comment

    One thing thats very Important From a SEO perspective

    Your Videos as long as your implementing appropriate VSEO

    Get scraped on sites that are only scarping videos – simply because videos when positioned right and the right YouTube Video Keyword Research will rank on the first page of Google

    You should be living in Your Google Webmaster Tool, not just to look at your Google Results CTR but your back links to your site

    I’m getting many back links to my pages causing 404′s because the scraper copy exactly what they see on the page of Your YouTube Video and obviously for long tail SEO – URLS maybe very long and cause the 404 errors

    So i would advise to check your Google Webmaster Tools daily – depending on the content your posting and implement a redirect for the URL that has been back linked from a scraper site.

    Also make sure you submit your posts to social bookmarking sites immediately and manually after you have published them as i have seen many not implement this and scraper sites rank higher for there content simply because Google has deemed the scraper site to of been the original poster – funny but for those in that position – not so funny – learn from mistakes and intentionally implement things on the internet whereby you cover this problem

    P.S

    UNIQUE CONTENT (With your keywords here and there) RULES – IT MAKES GOOGLE ROBOTS MELT AND WANT TO SLEEP ON YOUR PAGE LOL

  13. says

    Oh, Oh, And I just bought an autoblogging program.
    Is there no way to divert the autoblog to myself instead directly to the blog, so I could check it out, or as Roundy says, “create value through careful content selection”

  14. says

    Hi Ros,

    sobering stuff if you have ever had your content stolen. I don’t think that I have seen the argument put so well. Of cousre we all appreciate it when other refer to our posting but not downright theft there is more than enought material available to produce your own content.
    Keep it coming

    Rob

  15. says

    Hey Roz,

    Right on with this article, agreed. When I was brand new, I looked at this auto-blogging nonsense and realized that it didn’t really pass the smell test…..if it seems to good to be true, etc. While we can never never stop the in and out thieves, scammers and downright lazy asses, good content will always win followers in the end. Let the others chase their tails with dreams of million dollar paydays with their auto-blogging foolishness.

    Best to you,
    Neal

  16. LWRENCE says

    “If it’s not yours, don’t touch it without permission.”

    Mmm. Seems like a lot of people here in London have never been taught that valuable principle. Low life scum bags. LG.

  17. Niall says

    DO NOT apologize to anyone for your opinion Ros and I LOVE the image you replaced to give the guys at AffAholic a taste of their own medicine.

    It’s great to see somebody of your status call shennanigans when she sees them – if it looks like a thief, speaks like a thief and steals like a thief…well…it’s probably a thief. Autoblogging, content scraping, directory scraping – it’s all the same.

    There’s far too many “gurus” out there who are nothing more than con men and con women. It’s actually ruining the IM landscape for decent business people like you, me and hundreds of others who produce original content every day so I think you’re 100% right in calling it like it is.

    I tried explaining this years ago when Traffic Equalizer was huge – the fact that polluting the search engines for short term gain is doing nobody any good. It just means Google have to to tighten the reins even more so the “gurus” have to come up with another “system” etc etc etc

    I like the new outspoken Ros – keep it up :-)

    PS What I find most ironic are the Christian types who give you a “do not steal” speech in Church but then go and steal content online or do other equally shady stuff online. Because you’re being dishonest online doesn’t make it OK.

  18. LAWRENCE says

    Curfews, nice idea but` over here we probably couldn’t impose them as they would more than likely be seen to impinge on their “human rights” as laid down by bureaucrats in Europe. LG. (Spelt my name correctly this time!)

  19. says

    Hi Ros,

    Thanks so much for writing about this and for taking a stand! It’s refreshing to have one of the leaders in our industry speak the truth.

    With the popularity of blog curation and the sale of the “Huffington Post” for over $300 million it didn’t take long for some to bastardize and twist that term to trick folks into thinking auto blogging is the same thing.

    I’m also glad to read that you won’t shut down your RSS feed. Better to deal with these thieves by exposing them and sending them DMCA violation notices vs depriving legitimate subscribers who enjoy consuming content via RSS feed readers.

    That argument that it’s the RSS feed to blame is lame. Just because someone leaves their front door unlocked it doesn’t mean thieves can come in and steal your stuff.

  20. says

    “If you can copy and paste, you can do this”… a very familiar catchphrase without calling names… well done Ros :twisted:

    So called benefit 7. “The post benefits the original writer by linking back to the original post.”
    Why would anybody want crappy scrappyblogs pointing to their original site just showing a copy? That’s like getting approvals from every Tom, Dick and Harry, and every spamfilter just blacklists ‘dick’, so no benefit.

    Google does it outmost best to get rid of duplicated content, so if superguru has a program that fools Google for now, supergoogle wont take too long to kick the autoblog out. It’s a money making strategy that banks on hoping that Google won’t catch you.

    Like you say Ros, we prefer the “good original content forever” strategy :)

    FYI: the superguru of course will upsell hosting for all those 100 autoblogs the 1 buyer needs, and nothing makes more money than recurring income.

  21. says

    Here’s an idea … how about at the top of every post, you write “If you are not reading this on NetProfitsToday.com, then this content has been stolen.” :)

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