Der Splog! An Experiment in Splogging

A few days ago I discovered two new WordPress plugins for autobloggers. One is a combined RSS feed aggregator and keyword auto tagger and the other is an auto trackback sender. Up to now the only autoblog, aka splogs, that I have created and managed used RSS aggregators and auto taggers to pull in content from the RSS feeds provided by sponsors. Most of those splogs sell adult products. Yesterday, an idea sparked in my mind – armed with these two new autoblogging plugins, how quickly can I create a splog of mainstream content and how much traffic can I get to the splog using only autoblogging plugins, search engine submission and pinging, and trackbacks?

Der Splog Logo Image

Prepare to be surprised if you’ve never splogged or autoblogged before.

It took me 8 hours to install and setup my splog between playing Kingdoms of Camelot, reading and replying to emails and updating a few other websites. I aptly called it Der Splog! (site since disabled) and installed it on a sub domain of BigBuz.Eu.

I hate plagiarism, I’ve suffered it myself – many of my articles are available in multiple languages due to it. I’d give thanks to the plagiarists for their flattery and promotion of my research and hard work but they don’t link back to me as clearly as they should and I provide easy access to Google Translate for my articles, so I won’t thank them.

To keep my halo shining and to keep the flamers smiling, I’ve decided that all the articles in Der Splog! should only be derived from public domain sources that are freely available and permitted for republication by other websites. I have also ensured that the articles link back to their original sources.

The Plugins

I installed 32 WordPress plugins. Some help beautify the site, others add extra widgets and speed up page loads, a few assist statistical data gathering and the remainder are specific for Der Splog’s! autoblogging needs. I’m only going to tell you about the ones for autoblogging and statistics gathering the rest you can figure out or ask me about. So, here goes:

Multipress Autoblogging

Aggregates RSS feeds from article directories, Flickr, Yahoo Answers, Yahoo News and any other website that provides an RSS feed. As well as aggregating tags from an article’s original source, it automatically adds additional tags based on article content. Multipress can also find articles via Google Blog Search based on specified keywords. Der Splog! consists of articles and posts from article directories, Yahoo Answers and Yahoo News. I might add Flickr and YouTube into the mix at a later date.

WP-Trackback Sender

Do your blogs get inundated with spam trackbacks and pingbacks? WP-Trackback Sender is one of their causes. It uses a post’s keyword tags to find blog articles (on different sites) that relate to the post then encourages the development of a trackback to the post from the related article to artificially increase inbound links to the post.

TagPig

Autotags posts. Articles on Der Splog! are automatically pulled in from RSS feeds and manually adding tags would take hours. Multipress creates its own tags but it’s always good to have a second tagger and TagPig fulfills that role, nicely.

Autofields

Automatically completes the the post excerpt and custom fields sections of WordPress posts.

FDFeedburner

WordPress has its own inbuilt ping service but it pings whenever a post is updated (not a problem here because they’re not often revised) which can cause a site to be banned by the services it pings. A better, more complete ping service is provided by Feedburner. So, to prevent two pings being sent to the same search engines and blog indexes, I deleted the default ping list that comes with WordPress, set up a Feedburner account with Pingshot enabled and installed FDFeedburner to redirect WordPress’s default RSS feed to my FDFeedburner one. Consequently, all new posts are now pinged through Google’s Feedburner thus are pinged via Pingshot. I will use other ping services every couple of days.

WordPress.com Stats

One of the best ways to log traffic visiting a WordPress blog. This stats plugin records referrer links, search engine terms and outbound clicks. I will use it to measure the success of Der Splog! at attracting traffic using only regurgitated (RSS) content.

Greg’s High Performance SEO

Among its other WordPress SEO improvements, it adds metatags to every post and page based on a post’s excerpt field and keywords.

The other plugins used in Der Splog! only change its appearance and enhance it but do not help it autoblog so I won’t mention them here.

All of the plugins mentioned above can be read about in more detail in the JournalXtra blog post 88 Incredibly Good WordPress Plugins. Let me know of any other free plugins you think I should add to Der Splog!

The Theme

I opted for a highly configurable theme with SEO enhancements called Atahulapa. Not as easy to configure as Suffusion but it is almost as configurable and provides a look that suits Der Splog! Albeit, it is much more difficult to configure than Suffusion too.

Publication

Aside from auto trackbacks, I used three free search engine and directory submission sites, a ping site listed in JournalXtra’s tools (section since removed) and a backlink from JournalXtra.

The free search engine submission sites were:

I will use the submitter provided by Evrsoft in a few days time.

The ping site was Ping That Blog and the backlink is provided through this blog post and a mention in the WordPress Plugins article.

The site has been added to all three of Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Webmaster Tools (I don’t know what the properly call themselves).

The Results So Far

I began publishing the site at about 23:00 GMT on the 8th June 2010 and it has already received traffic!

As of 16:00, 9th June 2010, it has had

91 page views (61 if we exclude mine)

8 unique visitors

2 non-search engine referrers

1 outbound link click

I will chart the progress of Der Splog! over the course of the next few weeks and months so that we can all see how successful (or not) a splog can be when only the above stated autoblogging tools are used and the only intervention from a human administrator is to check that the theme and plugins are up-to-date and functional, to add new content sources, to update its sitemap (I’ve disabled the sitemap’s auto update feature until I’m certain of how often content is aggregated) and to read the traffic stats. The results will be displayed in a table below here.

I will add a bootnote to this post if I install any more autoblogging plugins or manually create any more backlinks for the site.

Wish me success and tell me what you think about the experiment and the ethics of it – is it right to create a splog that contains public domain content?

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geekman101

Can’ wait to see the results. I’ve heard splogs and scrapers sometimes get more attention than the sites they take content from. Be interesting to know how much search engine attention you get and whether duplicate content gets penalized. Remember to post some server stats as well as the wordpress ones.

geekman101

One more thing – re der splog, did the multipress plugin separate the yahoo question answers or did you do it some other way?

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