Finding content for a website
manual - this is similar to writing a college essay. You use your own knowledge and supplement it with research.
automated - this is a very different approach that consists of pulling content from the internet into your website. On the dark side is the world of autoblogging, where a blog is setup and automatically stuffed with hundreds of pages of content from other sites with the hope of generating AdSense revenue. Clearly the search engines frown on such sites. However, there are some useful automation tools that can be used whilst still wearing a white hat.
Manual Content Generation
Google Reader is a tremendous tool for gathering information. In the words of Google:
"Google Reader is a tool for gathering, reading, and sharing all the interesting blogs and websites you read on the web."
Here is a link to the Google Reader Quick Start Guide. Alternatively, if you prefer videos, here are the Google Reader Help Videos. Google Reader allows you to set-and-forget. Relevant, topical content will be delivered to you daily.
In a similar way, Google Alerts "are emails automatically sent to you when there are new Google results for your search terms". And naturally, you can use Google Reader to manager your alerts. This link will take you to a Google Alerts overview.
Other sources of information are:
forums and groups
In addition, you can use wikipedia, knol (the new Google service) and Google search itself. Have a look at this cheat sheet for the advanced operators that you can use in Google Search. You may also wish to consider Yahoo pipes, a mashup service that enables you to pull content from several different sources. And finally, why not sign up to a few newsletters from others working in the area. Some of their thoughts may spark ideas of own (and if they wish to comment on these, you could benefit from extra traffic as people follow your discussion.)
Instant Article Wizard
Instant Article Wizard takes your keywords and gathers information from all over the web. The information is brought together in a way that allows you to create content very quickly. Consider it as your automated research assistant. Sure you could do it yourself but time is money and this software will pay for itself very quickly.
IAW Pro currently supports searching Google, Yahoo, MSN Live, Google Blog Search, Articles, Google's US Government index, Google Scholar, Google News and Google News Archives. Having multiple sources for gathering research makes it much easier to compile relevant, authoratative information to help you write top quality content fast.
Click play the video and see the program in action.
Here is the sales page for Instant Article Wizard.
As the name suggests it was originally designed for article marketing.
Automated Content Generation
All of these tools are WordPress plugins.
A WordPress plugin that automatically creates blog posts from an RSS feed based on keyword information. There are various settings to help randomize content (ie so that you don't simply replicate another blog) and you can set it so that the posts are not actually published. In other words, you can use the collected content as a starting point for your inspiration and then edit them accordingly.
Similar to Autoblogged, it can, in the words of the developer: "automatically post RSS feeds, articles, YouTube videos and Yahoo Answers, rewrite and translate the text, add links, spit it out according to a template, or pull relevant images." This sounds very black hat. But it is simply a tool - you decide how to use it. Again, you can automate the collection of content and then put your own unique spin on it, according full credit to the original producer.
The source of content for this plugin is Yahoo Answers. Content is retrieved based on your keywords and posted to your blog hourly or daily. A common setup is to create the question as a blog post and then have the answer as a comment. Combining this tool with others can enable you to very quickly build a keyword-optimised blog. From the same developer is:
To quote the developer: "WP VideoTube can post and dripfeed videos hourly or daily. Not only will it post the actual video, but also the description, the tags and also the comments...".
automated content generation toolsFinal Thoughts on Automation
If used wisely, I think these tools can save you lots of time and effort.
The automated content generated by these tools is not good enough if you expect your website to be used a resource for humans. Their primary aim is to try to fool search engines which, as yet, are not as sensitive to bad grammar and non sequiturs. A heavily keyword optimised page can still make it to the top of the search engines and if that page contains AdSense or other advertisements, then it only takes a few clicks each day to generate a substantial income (particularly if you have set up hundreds of blogs in this way).
The search engine algorithms are getting more and more sophisticated and you should think carefully before using these tools without intervention before actual publication.
Completely Automated Blogging Solutions
If you want an easy life or have too much to do and too little time, why not have a look at a couple of completely automated blogging solutions.