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Atlanta Tech Blogs, while a simple service to the community, is also a source of digital marketing, social media, and SEO experimentation. Kind of a sandbox of sorts. Last week, while I canoed and portaged 60+ miles in the boundary waters of northern Minnesota, we ran another experiment. We put Atlanta Tech Blogs on auto-pilot. I didn’t have a choice, really, since I would not have any access to the internet for nearly 7 days, and practically speaking, more like 9 days. Below is an explanation of what I mean by “auto-pilot” and how that worked out.

What We Usually Do

What we do here at Atlanta Tech Blogs is import your blog posts via RSS and other shared content via this simple form, and then share those stories via the website, email, and Twitter. However, there’s one step that’s never been automatic until last week. We change the title on every post to make sense to our readers, rather than to someone who is actually looking at your blog. For example, we would change this actual blog post title, “009 How do you find all the different vendors for your big event?” to something like “Pitch Practice podcast episode 9: Event Circle makes event planning easier” for Pitch Practice.

That step has several benefits. First, when someone sees that headline on the website, email, or Twitter, the headline is easily understood even if you have no idea what Pitch Practice is or who Event Circle is. Second, for SEO purposes, we’re not just republishing the exact same content that appears on 250+ other websites. We’re actually creating new content, albeit just headlines. Google’s search ranking algorithm loves fresh new content. Google’s search ranking algorithm does not love copied content.

Last Week: Auto-Pilot

Last week, for the first time in over 2 years, we published copied content for 8 days. Since we were on auto-pilot, we did not change a single headline. What you used as your headline is what we used as our headline. The good result was that we were on autopilot and everything worked. Blogs still got shared, our daily email went out each day, and our Twitter audience continued to engage and grow.

However, the bad result is that Google moved Atlanta Tech Blogs from the first or second page (it changes almost daily) of its search engine results for “tech blogs” to pretty much off the charts. I looked as deep as page 15, and found nothing, although our Twitter profile is listed on page 2, proving the partnership that sends all tweets (yours and mine) directly into the Google SEO machine.

Google’s Response

What does all this mean? A couple of things. Google is slow to advance websites in their rankings, meaning it takes a long time to move up to the first or second page of Google’s search engine results page. However, Google is really fast to penalize websites for just copying and pasting content. That’s what we did last week. In less than a week, we went from page 1 or 2 to page nothing.

Next experiment: how long does it take to return to our previous position after returning to our previous methodology of rewriting every headline? Stay tuned.

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