Autoblogging has been a hot topic for a few years now, ever since the first geek realized he could hook up an RSS feed to his wordpress site and pump it full of 'free' content automatically, without all that nasty typing. Like all good ideas, 'splogs' or 'spam blogs' as they became known, worked for a while, and if you look around, you'll see LOTS of people still promoting this technique, either with free 'advice' or as paid-for plugins, memberships and so on.
The obvious 'next step' on this path was to use ready made articles (such as PLR articles) to create more substantial content on your sites. That worked for a while too. Perhaps stealing (scraping) content from Yahoo answers was the way to go? Yep, that worked for a while too, especially as the results looked more like blog posts and comments.
But it no longer works.
What? I hear you cry? But some guy on a forum SWEARS he makes money from it! He may very well promise you that it works, but the simple fact of the matter is that it doesn't work any more - he's lying to you, or is an idiot.
The reasons why are simple, and obvious. Search engines are constantly evolving, and have moved past the point where this sort of 'trick' could fool them. The fact that this technique stopped working is self-evident - it has given rise to the whole 'duplicate content' debate. If it still worked, there wouldn't be any debate. (As a matter of fact, Google became able to deal with these 'splogs' way back in 2003, and rolled out the tech in 2004). Arguments against the dupe content penalty fall into a number of camps, usually emphasizing that major news sites, Yahoo, for example, have very little on them that isn't published elsewhere, and THEY seem to do OK.
What this specious claim misses is that the 'penalty' doesn't have to be an explicit punishment or downgrade, it can simply be a by-product of the way search engines work nowadays. So how do they work?
Modern search engines try hard to deliver what they call a 'good user experience' to surfers who use them. This means that whatever you search for, they try and find something relevant. They also try not to fill the results page with similar or identical stuff, because, as you can imagine, that wouldn't be a very good 'user experience'. How do they do this? First, find something that matches exactly. If there are multiple exact matches, choose the one with the most weight (page rank'). That's your main result, the one you get if you're 'feeling lucky'.
And the rest of the page? There's no point filling it with the duplicates, because the first result already contains that user experience, should they wish to click on it. So the rest of the results will be near misses, again ranked by weight. This ENHANCES the experience, and hence is a GOOD THING as far as the search engine (and user!) is concerned.
What does this mean for your splog? DISASTER. Your duplicate copy of whatever article you're using will already exist somewhere else (you nicked it, remember?!) and frankly, it exists on a more important site. Unless you happen to think your little spam blog is more important that ezinearticles, or goarticles, or 'daytrading.com' for example.
You should now be able to see that there is NO incentive for google, yahoo etc to feature YOUR splog, unless you can get it up to a PR6 or 7. Which means you're wasting your time building your splog, no matter how sexy your theme, or how elaborate your logo, because you aren't getting to PR 6 anytime soon. The only way you're EVER going to rank is if you put some REALLY 'long tail' keywords in there - the kind of word combination that is VERY unusual (because that means your site WILL enhance the user experience), and even then, you'll only rank for EXACT matches, not near misses. Also, don't think you can just add a few lines of longtails at the top of each duplicated article though - here's the reason why .
All modern search engines like to cut down the 'work' they have to do to filter out the 'chaff' from their results. Obviously, the fewer CPU cycles and database reads they have to do, the cheaper the cost of serving you the result, and the more profit they make. And circa 2004, most engines implemented a statistical filter designed to weed out splogs.
How do they do this? Easy. There's no legal requirement for Google etc to show your site, so they can be as high handed as they like, and believe me, high handed they are. If they find a site that is entirely (or mostly) composed of duplicate content, especially if the site is newish, or hosted on budget hosting, they ASSUME it's a splog, designed solely to game the engines. If it's loaded with adsense, affiliate offers etc, that just helps them confirm it.
The end result? If you search for your actual domain / blog, you'll probably find it. If you search for any of the keywords you're hoping to rank for, you WON'T find it, because you've been pushed down 500 places - after all IT'S DUPLICATE CONTENT, and hence worthless as a result.
Does it matter how long you run it for, or how much content you load up there? No. You'll never rank, because it's DUPLICATE CONTENT. In fact, the MORE duplicate content you push onto it, the worse you'll make it. After all, if you were google, what would YOU think if you came across a one month old blog, loaded with 600 dupe articles? Would you think the owner was really really REALLY good at typing, and really committed to the topic, and the fact it was all duplicate content was just a trillion-to-one coincidence, or would you think it was a splog? As you can see, it's fairly straightforward.
Can you 'fool' the engines by 'mashing up' content from various sources? No. Search engines use 'shingling' technology. This allows them to fingerprint content at a fragmentary level and check for it elsewhere very simply. And if they determine that you are trying to 'game' them by mashing up, you actually WILL get banned.
So... can you fool them by translating into a different language then back again? Of course not. Once again, the statistical tracks you leave by doing this stamp you out as someone who thinks he's a 'baddass blackhatter', and the engines will take great amusement in banning you, and linking this ban to all the other sites they ASSUME that you own too. Remember, Google are under no legal obligation to treat your sites 'fairly'!
Can you fool then by 'spinning' the content? Yes, but you have to spin right down to the sentence fragment level - a task so complicated that there is currently only one solution that can do it - hint - you are on the site right now, and it's no longer 'spinning', it's content wrangling. Let's say you try a bit harder, and use unique content. What happens then? You may not feature in the number one spot (unless you are that PR 7 site!), but you WILL feature somewhere close to it, because YOUR CONTENT IS UNIQUE and hence MAKES THE USER EXPERIENCE BETTER. With unique content, it's even possible to 'dominate the serps' with multiple sites, because the search engines will assume that the close but different content on those sites will be of interest to the user, and therefore a reference to each site is worth showing. You'll never get banned as a splog if you use unique content either - because you won't trip the statistical spam filter the engines use to detect splogs (disclaimer - if its a REALLY bad blog, and you get 'dobbed' in it by a rival, you can still get banned).
The final point you might hear from newbies trying to defend the outmoded concept of splogging is that "I know someone who makes a lot of money from them". Or "I've seen one ranking in Google for some competitive term so it MUST work" . Firstly, unless you have analyzed every page on the site that Google has analyzed, you don't know how 'unique' that site is, or why Google is ranking it. Secondly, you don't know why it's ranking when you saw it. Perhaps Google was 'dancing' at the time. It happens. Thirdly, someone wins the lottery every week. Just not YOU. If you believe you have a splog of your own ranking for a competitive term, and would like to prove this article wrong, let us know. If you can prove it, we'll happily take this page down and give you a free membership. We're not expecting to see one anytime soon, of course. What you CAN be sure of is just like 'cloaking', and 'doorway pages' duped content splogs are on the way out, because they don't add anything to the search engine's user experience.
So there you have it. You need unique content on your sites. Period. Throwing up site after site that just scrapes content from elsewhere, or uses unaltered articles is ... a complete and utter waste of time. Feel free to try it if you don't believe this commonsense article, and would rather 'hope' that some guy you met on a forum isn't a bullshitter. Every hour you waste on that pointless task makes it easier for the rest of us to make money!
And the easiest way to create an autoblog full of unique content that WILL make you money? Snapcontent!
Sign up for Snapcontent now, and you can get a free trial and a massive discount on the usual price!!