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Why Automated Blogging Tools Should Be Avoided

In the last week I’ve had 3 emails from makers of Automated Blogging tools, scripts and plugins (or RSS to Blog tools) asking me to promote their plugins and systems.

These tools all claim to be able to help you create content for your blog without you having to do anything except set it up, choose a keyword/s for your blog to be about.

The tools sales pages usually make claims like:

  • “create targeted blog posts on any topic without writing anything!”
  • “start hundreds of blogs on any topic and never have to lift a finger to keep them pumping out as much content as you like!”
  • “generate traffic, money and blog posts while you sleep!”
  • “Achieve Higher Search Engine Rankings And Massive Affiliate Revenue With Self Updating Blogs”

You get the picture – the list of the hyped up claims that the developers of automated blogging tools make goes on and on!

The fact that these people are asking me to promote these kinds of tools scares me a little as I’ve been pretty anti them in the past and don’t want to be associated with the in any way.

However it also makes me wonder how many bloggers are innocently signing up for them without knowing the dangers of doing so. After-all the sales copy on many of these tools sounds too good to be true – blogging made easy, lots of money, no work….

As a result I thought I’d put together a list of reasons why I would avoid ‘auto blogging’ tools at all costs.

Reasons to avoid Automated blogging Tools and Services:

1. Non Unique Content – at the heart of every successful and profitable blog that I’ve come across is unique content. Auto blogging tools all take content from other places on the web and automatically pull them together on your blog. They replicate what others are doing. They create duplicates of other people’s work. It’s not unique, it’s not original and it creates clutter.

Many of the automated blog tools sales pages say you can add to the content that these auto blogging tools use to add uniqueness to your blog but I’d argue that if you’re creating hundreds of blogs it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll be adding unique posts to many of them.

Blogs that are not unique, that don’t have a personal voice, that contain no original thought don’t tend to get links from other blogs, don’t tend to attract subscribers, readers or comments and don’t generally rank well in Google or other search engines.

2. Useless Content – the other main factor in successful blogs is that they create ‘useful’ content – the type of content that solves people’s problems, helps them solve a problem and makes their lives better in some way.

While some might argue that automated blogging tools can help people by finding this type of information my observation of most of them in action is that they are very hit and miss. Most rely upon you identifying keywords that you want your blog to be about and they then go searching for all kinds of content on those keywords.

As a result you can be publishing who knows what on your blog. Some of it may be useful but some of it might be completely irrelevant and even potentially harmful to readers. Many automated blogs that I come across are a step up from being ‘gibberish’.

3. Personal Satisfaction – early in my own blogging I created a number of blogs that I called ‘link blogs’. They looked at what others were writing online and manually (no tools) collated some of it onto one site. I added some of my own thoughts and it did provide usefulness to readers because it was high quality and all in the one place for readers – but the process almost killed my passion for blogging. It was an empty process for me with no real sense of satisfaction. I stopped doing these kinds of blogs (even though they did make me money and readers complained that it was useful to them).

At it’s best – blogging is an exciting, interactive and fun experience that can give you inspiration, ideas and energy. This kind of blogging (ie using these automated tools) is about none of that.

4. Risk – all of the sales pages on these tools talk about how you can use these tools with all kinds of content legally by using content from sites with APIs, open source content or creative commons content. However almost every time I’ve come across a blog using automated blogging tools they have been scraping content from other blogs without permission from their RSS feeds.

Some blogs allow you to use their content but most do not. There’s real risk in using content from other sites in this way on a number of levels:

  • Breaking Copyright – use the wrong persons content without your permission and you could end up on the end of legal proceedings.
  • DMCAs and Risk to Your Hosting and Ad Partner Relationships – when I catch someone scraping my content I generally give them a warning but follow that up by issuing DMCAs to them, their site’s host and sometimes their advertisers (like AdSense). This can lead to you losing your hosting and being banned from ad networks (for example AdSense don’t allow you to put your ads on pages where you don’t own the copyright of the content). I know a lot of bloggers who issue DMCAs without warning and push a lot harder on these issues than I do – it can be a nightmare to have to work through these kinds of things.
  • Damage to Your Brand – many bloggers skip the DMCA process and go with a ‘name and shame’ approach and publically call out those who steal their content. This can have a lasting impact upon your brand and personal name. There’s nothing worse than doing a Google search for your name and seeing the #1 result being a post an angry blogger wrote about you stealing their content.
  • Google Penalties – ever heard of ‘duplicate content’? It’s what Google calls content that appears in more than one place on the web. I don’t know exactly how they treat this content but do know that they try to weed it out of their search results. They don’t get it all but they do get a lot of it and I suspect that a site that is largely classified as ‘duplicate’ will never be seen as an authoritative site on Google.

5. Create Something Worthwhile – my take home advice for bloggers is to create something online that is worthwhile, something that matters, something that inspires, informs and educates. Do this over the long haul and you’ll create something that not only means something but that has every chance of having lasting success.

I’ve heard from a few bloggers that they’ve had some success with automated blogging tools (although most of these were a couple of years back) but in every case they tell me that it’s usually temporary. They start blogs, see a bit of Google traffic before being banned from Google.

Their blogs never really amount to anything, they never build their own profile or become known as authorities in their niches, they never create useful sites that become niche leaders and to make money they have to keep starting new blogs over and over again.

To me this seems like an empty existence.

Me – I’d rather create something worthwhile that will not only survive but that will grow in momentum, build my brand and mean something to people.

What are you experiences of automated blogging tools?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Sean Davis says:

    Using these types of tools don’t even cross my mind now. I used them in the past when I would set up a blog, get some content, and flip it for profit. That was OBVIOUSLY a completely different business.

    Would I ever use it on my personal blog? Hell no. I hope that’s everyone’s answer.

  2. Great advice especially about checking out the adsense ads.

  3. Nate Holland says:

    I would probably get someone to do my writing for me, but I would never go as far as getting tools to generate/create blog and articles for me. How are you going to get original blogs that way?

  4. L-Jay says:

    Thank you!!!!! for writing this post!!! Slowly more and more of these automated blogs are stealing our original content. I didn’t know what they were called or if anyone else was being effected so badly. (We also recently discovered people have been stealing out original pics and using them of their own blog – they didn’t change the name of the file…lol – and still had our watermark on!) As soon as we get a ‘pink-back’ we ban all thieves, but a question:

    How do you stop them doing it in the first place?

    Can you ban certain user agents or their spiders without damaging the chances of being categorised by Google and other search engines?

    How can we stop these abusers – is it worth while reporting them to their host? Maybe if we all help, one by one we can stamp out these content abusers!

    Does anyone have a list of which user agents these automated blogging tools use that they could share?

  5. Tip of the day: don’t report them to their ISP.

    Report them to Google AdSense. Stolen content = suspension of AdSense account = no money.

  6. Michael says:

    I totally agree with Darren – “automated” blogging is not worth the risk.

    Original content is where it is at – there are no shortcuts to becoming a successful blogger.

  7. Haroun Kola says:

    I’m one of the people guilty of grabbing content off your site, and now I’ve removed it after having a short chat with you. I’m not using auto blogging software, just a wp-o-matic, a wordpress plugin that brings feeds into my site.

    This comment however is about something I read on the Adsense blog at:
    http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/07/speeding-up-attracting-more-visitors.html

    They say:

    Tip #2: Learn to share

    My second tip is more counterintuitive. To attract more readers to your website, consider putting your content under a Creative Commons license so it can be widely distributed. Everything on wikiHow is under a license that allows other websites to publish and even modify or adapt our content for re-use on their sites.

    I don’t know all the technical aspects of duplicate content, and the connection between serps and adsense, but its always interesting to me to find authoratative voices giving contrary arguments about the same thing :)

    But not wanting to be a thief, at least now I know where I can turn to for content that others are happy to share freely.

    Thanks for opening up the discussion Darren

  8. Luca says:

    It all depends on the tool and how you use it. If it’s just used to post articles from articles sites or rss feeds completly on autopilot then I agree – stay away from them. If you use them to add info to your blog from time to time and you vet what’s actually going to be posted then I don’t have a problem with that.

    Let’s face it there are times that we need some help with our content. Used wisely these tools can enhance your readers experience. Don’t get me wrong there’s no such thing as set it and leave it or no work required. I personally like and use utility poster – on occasion – only to add to what I personally write. I

  9. John Paul says:

    I agree that automated content tools are not a good idea, and def will ruin your brand.

    But there are automated tools that can make you more efficient with managing your blog.

  10. Robin says:

    I had about 10 posts from my blog lifted by one of these – it was pretty scary! I had woken to find lots of trackbacks in my mail box, from internal links. I tracked down the guy with WHOIS, Googled him and sent him a Facebook message (his email didn’t work) and he removed them, saying he was experimenting with the kind of software you mention. While no-one would take the blogger seriously, it’s stealing and we never really know how Google treats duplicate content – maybe it doesn’t do any harm – I dunno.

  11. Thanks for the information Darren. Yeah it’s true that there were many of them were offering this kind of offer.

  12. Carleenp says:

    I take content theft very seriously. I send DMCA take down notices to all sites that republish my content in full and actively follow through by reporting to hosts and advertisers as needed. I worry less about partial content theft/headline aggragators simply because I lack time to pursue it all and those are less damaging.

    I find that about 50% of the sites are rather naive: They don’t know that they are doing something wrong and are surprised to learn about copyright laws. Or they think because they linked back it is all OK–again, they simply don’t understand the law. The other 50% know full well what they are doing. I’m kinder to the first group by giving them more time to remove my content and I and try to explain how it works. The second I give very little leeway too–After my initial request they get the full DMCA notices sent to all who might take action quite quickly if my content is not removed. I have no sympathy for those folks.

    One further note, I state that I charge a rate of $85 per post per 3 months of use if my content if not removed. I have yet to actually bill someone, but I know of a photographer who has done this and who successfully pursued the action in court. So taking content could have another direct monetary risk as well.

  13. Muiden says:

    Good to see you spent a blogpost about this matter. I have a colleague at work who thinks autoblogging tools are fantastic and I have tried (but not succeeded yet) to make him see he is not only stealing other peoples’ work, but also not adding anything useful to the web.

    I think you should have switched your #1 and #2 reason though, first and foremost splogs are completely useless!

    Note that I have reported a couple of splogs to Google, but it seems they really don’t care, all of the sites in question are still ranking on the first page and Google is earning its commision via Adsense. Quite shocking for a company whose motto is ‘Do no evil’!!!!

  14. ITrush says:

    Been researching for this kind of tools because I’m really curious about how they work.. thanks Darren for opening this up to us.

  15. Nihar says:

    Agree with you.

    I heard first time that there are automated blogging tools which can create posts for you.

    Anyways it is not good. It is always better to write your own post rather than copying it.

  16. Youngistaan says:

    I really hate these kind of tools. I can do all these things then why i need any tool.

  17. Wayne says:

    There is a place and style made for automation, but it isn’t when you care about subscribers, comments or the content itself.

    The posts that some of these tools create is true crap, but there ARE ways of making this work when all you want is search traffic.

    You know my history a bit Darren, I started off my blog by creating some automated posts, and went about it completely wrong. I’ve since found a way to create a blog, get it indexed within hours, and have it update itself. My blogs get some really good search traffic and make me some decent money with AdSense and other affiliate programs. (Finally!)

    I don’t care about subscribers or comments on these “blogs” (as if you can call them that after scaling back the functionality to such an extreme) as they are targeted to obtain long tail search traffic.

    I wouldn’t use any of these methods on my personal blog, but they are very worthwhile for those of us that own a few hundred domains and simply want a way to monetize those domains beyond the normal default AdSense landing pages they start as.

    There is absolutely no risk what-so-ever with the way I do these sites, there is original content, enough to pass muster at least, and nothing is copyrighted nor illegal.

    I agree with you Darren, but also disagree with you. There are ways to make the automated tools work to your advantage…it’s all a matter of perspective and approach, but there are reasons and ways to use these tools without hitting any of the points you brought up.

    Just thought I’d share that.

    Cheers!

  18. Wayne says:

    I’m also finding most of these comments amusing. So much for thinking outside the box eh?

    Seems that SpikeTheLobster has a fair grip on the possibilities, however, I’d also disagree with creating it just for background noise.

  19. vaibhav says:

    I liked your tip SpikeTheLobster

    “Tip of the day: don’t report them to their ISP.

    Report them to Google AdSense. Stolen content = suspension of AdSense account = no money.”

  20. Steve says:

    All good points, Darren. Just another lazy get-rich quick scheme.

  21. I’ve noticed a few websites have “scaped” my content, added it to their blog, and provided a link back to my post to read the rest. This would be nice, except they don’t provide any thoughts of their own on my post. They aren’t publishing it to discuss and share with readers – they’re publishing it to add content to their website hoping the search engines will find it useful. Their entire website is made up of these worthless posts.

    I’ve been asked if I allow people to share my content. I would LOVE for people to share, but they need to do it in a way that benefits readers and provides me with credit.

    These scraper sites have been around since I got into the Internet marketing world, and they’ll continue to be around in the future. In the past, these tools were targeted at websites, but with the explosion of blogs, the industry has shifted to what should be a QUALITY CONTENT environment.

    I don’t care for websites/blogs that post crap content just to help monetize the owner’s domain or make a few bucks on Adsense. This activity seems to just clog up the Internet with more and more worthless websites.

  22. BloggerDaily says:

    Automated blogging tools is an easy way to get content with just a little effort. Maybe it’s fun doing this but you’ll find yourself in a great later on.

    For me, satisfaction of creating content is the keyword of my passion for blogging. We create articles and tips, peoples read and leave their comments for it. That’s awesome!

    Why not you choose a way to be a professional blogger? The road is there!

  23. Besides
    I’m blogging in Polish (and in this language verbs, nouns and everything else changes) and I think such tools are useless for languages other than English. I saw some blogs created by such a programme in Polish and their grammar were pretty funny.

  24. fas says:

    High end bloggers like Gary Conn also say that making sites using auto blog tools is cool, you can make 100 of them, earn $1 a day from each a day and thus earn around $3000 a day.

  25. Mohnish says:

    Making Money this way isn’t cool. This is a crime. This is as good as stealing someone’s money. @Fas

  26. If it seems too good to be true it usually is.

  27. edos says:

    i dont see any reason a blogger should opt for such automated tools for blogging, afterall you are a blogger cause you want to share your opinions.

  28. Debbie says:

    I’m still rather new to the professional blogging world. I can tell you that any program that has too much hype immediately looses my interest. My mother always use to say “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

    But I did have a question: What is a DMCA take down notice? How do you create one in the event your content is stolen?

    Thanks for another informative post,

    Debbie

  29. karsten h. says:

    That’s ridiculous! How can you ever expect their to be quality content if everything is automated. The only way that one of those tools would work is if there’s actually just real people behind the tools writing all the content and being paid for it. Technicall they aren’t scams, but in a way they’de be lying if this is true.

  30. Wow, never knew a service like this existed. It’s like phantom blogging, but worse.

  31. Anna says:

    This is an excellent post. I really appreciate it. When I see those sales pages the same thoughts go through my head, but it helps to hear it so clearly from someone who really is running a highly successful blog.

    I am very curious about the DMCA issue you spoke about. I have been frustrated in the past when I found my writing used and even plagiarized without my permission. Even my poetry with someone else’s name attached! I contacted people, filled in some reports, and tried to research more on what to do but I got a bit lost … is there a lot of red tape or am I just not following the right procedure? I would love it if you considered writing a post about that topic! Ie, what to do when someone is stealing/plagiarizing your content.

  32. Nate says:

    Automated will only produce crap for sure. Just spend a little time and create a great blog people will actually want to read. I’ve been to so many sites where all of the content was a garbled mess.

  33. Alex says:

    Excellent illustration on why you should never use “zombie” tools to build your business. I don’t have any experience with any kind of automated blogging tools, but I’ve seen people rave about these new automated backlink builders like Free Traffic System and Linkvana. Those are very similar to what you’ve described. The first one is free and Linkvana is ridiculously expensive ($150 a month) The idea behind those is that they supposedly spin one of your articles and you get 30+ backlinks just from one article.

    The fact of the matter is – your content becomes junk spread over hundreds of blogs. I personally think it’s a waste of bandwidth and almost certain Google will be banning sites using these services in a near future.

  34. George Hall says:

    Have to agree, after a little lesson on that over on Twitter.

    For awhile I’d been using my Friendfeed-aggregated news links to automate providing news items, which saved me heaps of time having to search for such news myself.

    However, one of my Twitter followers pointed out that he’d been talking to a few other Twitterers and had come to the conclusion it wasn’t a good thing.

    I did my own survey of other Twitter followers and found they too had problems with it. Extra layer of linking, for one, detracting from my usual “voice” another…you get the drift.

    There was also a problem I’d noted personally…that news items often came in ten-item bursts, which I found personally not what I’d wanted.

    It was a correct decision to cut out all ABC Australia news items from my Twitter feed from that aggregation, as well as Herald-Sun items.

    I still leave TechCrunch and geek.com feeds from Friendfeed there, and it seems I haven’t heard anyone complaining yet. This is more newsworthy to my local followers…and it’s spread out a bit more evenly.

    For a while, doing this helped me concentrate on the conversation side of Twitter, but it still had a negative effect and it was a valid point to do something to solve it.

  35. Tall Blogger says:

    I agree with you on that. I think writing isn’t hard at all and should go from your heart and mean something to you and others.

  36. I have to agree that the automated way of doing things is a recipe for trouble. These tools may be faster and more efficient, but produce a lower quality result and lessen the effectiveness of your message. You have to look at quantity versus quality when it comes to what you are doing.

  37. I love it when I read articles like this. Having turned my attention to internet marketing and blogging only 2 mnths ago, I’ve found myself wading thru so much crud. Its great to read truthful and straight forward info.

    cheers Darren, you’ve made my day :)

  38. Make Money says:

    Creating that kind of blogs are “supporting blogs” and they do not have value in google,as for getting your link juice for your main blog,it is good,so how this is different from “paid links”,many bloggers do not have money to pay links,so they decide to create this kind of blogs.IMHO

  39. Miss Edie says:

    I have never used them, but I haven’t gotten that far to know of them.This is one for my book marks
    Thank you

  40. Make Money says:

    I agree with you, the “content” created by such plugins and other scripts has no use. But if you want to monitor some content then this can be useful but this aim can be achieved via a normal feed reader.

    Real Content Makes You King
    Copied Content Makes You Miserable

  41. Since I commented on this a few days ago, my blog content has been used as extracts with links to my blog twice. Through this blog entry and discussion with a number of my twitter colleagues, I’ve learnt the process for dealing with copyright infringement. I useful exercise for any blogger I’m sure!

    One of these sites that is using my enteries simply scrapes hundreds upon hundreds of posts as extracts onto a blog with no creditials, no contact info.

    Its all good experience for me in defining and tuning into the type of internet/web blogger citizen I wish to be.

  42. Jason Su says:

    These tips were very helpful, Thanks.
    As a blogger, I also have been offered some auto blogs or I was requested to advertise these autoblog tools which i turned down immediately.

    There are some things these companies are not telling you; sure the autoblog softwares work, but many of these have codes in them that links your blogs to theirs, so that they can get free back links. What that means is that they are using your blogs to get free advertisements for them!!!

    So yea, Thank You Darren for using your blog to tell people that they should not use autoblogging softwares.

  43. Hank Heister says:

    Darren, just an excellant message… I’ve been a nutritional researcher and health coach for 30 years and have just begun to learn about social media. I see all of the hype ads on twitter and know that this has little value and much risk to ones reputation. Your words bring much wisdom! Be blessed. Hank

  44. Jeff says:

    Good points all.
    I recently saw a system where a guy claimed to have put up 400 sites. He said 200 were making money. If that’s true, and I don’t know, then that’s 400 crappy sites I might have to compete against.
    I want to start a blog and write about things that interests me and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to make enough to cover my expenses. But I don’t see any way of making just a little money. It seems like you need 500-1000 visitors a day to make anything. And I don’t know how to get that kind of traffic today without ranking on a search page.
    How can I blog about say, solar energy and expect anyone to ever see my post, let alone make any money.
    I think Google needs to do a better job cleaning out the trash. That would be a good start.

  45. What’s the point of blogging if your going to use automated tools. Blogging is the bloggers thoughts put into writing. Automated tools take away from unique and original content. You want to blog so the reader will remember or subscribe, and using automated tools just does the opposite.

  46. Mike says:

    I also wonder whether providing full or abbreviated RSS feeds has an impact on these automated content splogging systems that are in turn based on RSS pulls (for those who aren’t aware Feedburner for example gives you an option to provide abbreviated posts only).

    You kindly responded to an email question about this by saying that with full feeds ‘less people visit but more people are reading’ but I think there is also a marginally reduced risk of people ripping off content with abbreviated RSS feeds.

    How big that risk is who knows: I was amazed when I wrote a spoof post about the worst blogging ‘advice’ I’d come across which included an imaginary splogging system ‘Nichesplogger’ to then get an email from a reader asking for more info on it.. So I guess there’s a market!

  47. You kindly responded to an email question about this by saying that with full feeds ‘less people visit but more people are reading’ but I think there is also a marginally reduced risk of people ripping off content with abbreviated RSS feeds.

  48. “Thanks for the post. It was o.k.. I have a backlink builders site at when you have the time!!”

  49. JOHN says:

    Hello, are you saying Automated blogging is not good enough for blogging?If yes What are your options?

  50. romanzick says:

    for master maybe it is not important, but for newbie? it is very curious things to try honestly