I recently discovered the WPTurbo automated posting plugin for WordPress. The idea is simple enough, the plugin connects to a range of public APIs supplied by large websites such as YouTube, Flickr and Amazon. The plugin then builds the content it finds into your blog.
This plugin will automate the creation of posts using content sourced from around the web, you can use templates to organise the content in any way you wish, and set them to post whenever you like.
What Can this Plugin be Used For?
I actually attempted to build a plugin like this for e107 two or three years ago, you can find some info on this in the blog archives. I had the idea of creating a self updating site that would mash-up the content from various different APIs and produce a page of relevent content but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to get it stable and eventually moved on to other projects.
So when I saw that someone had written a premium plugin for WordPress that achieved the same goal I was happy to break into my wallet and give it a go. It is far more economical for me to buy the plugin than spend more time writing my own!
I see two ways of using the plugin:
- Set and forget: It would be easy to set the plugin up to post automated content continuously. Your site would quickly fill up with mashed up content gleaned from around the web and hopefully the search engines might pick it up. However in this day and age there is a strong chance that the likes of Google will detect the automated nature of the site and drop it from the search results. Still, easy to set up and might do better than traditional domain parking.
- Enhance an existing blog: The other way I might use the plugin is to integrate with an existing blog and use it to provide additional content. For example you could setup a “photo of the day” or use it to promote an Amazon product once a week. The automated posts can be set to draft status which allows you to review and add your own comments.
Posts can be placed into catogories and, where applicable, will be fully tagged.
The plugin works in just the way I would want it to. The author has created a system of templates that allow you to easily construct a post out of any of the fields returned by any given API. This allows you to easily customise your automated posts and crtically allows you to mix and match to make a post as unique as possible.
I would always recommend adding your own content and enhancing posts with your own thoughts and ideas. Your goal should always be to add value.
The plugin is easy to install and setup, I was creating posts in no time. It as nice to see that the author had catered for a couple of “nice to have” features such as allowing you to instantly post at the touch of a button as well as setting a schedule.
A couple of things I would improve (or perhaps I just haven’t worked out how to do it yet!):
- Deactivate unwanted modules. There are some site APIs that I will never use because either they relate to US sites or sites that I just don’t like!
- It would be great to map API fields to WordPress custom fields. This would allow me to map photos to the Thesis thumbnail image field for example. In fact this is so impotant to me I will look at creating a companion plugin to manage this.
- Similarly it would be good to map to the Excerpt field.
All in all I was very impressed, it did exactly what it was supposed to, was easy to get going and worked first time!
I am currently working on a site template which I will then set loose on the web. The idea is to create a WordPress database that I can quickly deploy each time I want to setup a new site, a simple script will update various fields so that I have a ready working site as soon as I login.
Once this is finalised I will look at creating some WPTurbo templates that will mix and mash various fields from multiple APIs. The idea will be to create framework posts that I can then enhance with my own thoughts to quickly create content on some of my more sparse sites. At this stage I am not interested in creating spammy automated sites!
If you are interested in looking at some real world examples of this plugin in action then please sign up to my RSS Feed and keep an eye out for updates. I’d also love to hear from anyone else who has been using the plugin!