I’ve just had a quick play with a new tool announced on the WordPress blog – Zemanta.
This has the potential to considerably speed up the fiddly business of finding links, images and references to enrich your blog posts, but how useful will it be to the hyperlocal blogger?
I tried it first on an article for Social Stoke about geocaching. As expected, it easily picked up the links to references like geocaching, iphone, gps and other techie words. It is easy to switch links on and off, but I haven’t yet found out how to add one of its recommended links to a word it hasn’t highlighted by itself. It does, however, give you a choice of websites to visit so you can copy the link in the usual way. The suggested photos – from sources like Wikipedia or Flickr’s Creative Commons libraries – were relevant and as easy as the video suggests to just slot in, fully captioned and credited. It also gave me a nice choice of recommended websites for the end to turn on or off. This is an improvement on the previous version of this feature that could sometimes give some random choices.
Next I tried it on an article about Stoke town centre, on the Visit Burslem website. This was a bit more challenging for Zemanta, throwing up suggested images of different parts in Stoke-on-Trent and then Stoke Newington (not to worry, regeneration consultants do the same thing in their brochures all the time, haha). However, once I’d refined the search a couple of times it got to a relevant image. This feature will, of course, depend how many creative commons photos have been added in your patch, so it’s a good time to find some volunteers out there who are willing to add to the collection.
Zemanta is using the same sort of sources as you are likely to be using for its feeds and this feature will speed things up for you. The links feature is also a good time-saver which, as the SEO experts will tell you, will help you get to the top of Google. It seems to go for corporate websites, Wikipedia and recent news articles in its link choices rather than very good but not as well-known local history sites that I might like to link to, but that’s just a small niggle. The only warning note I would sound is that it adds a bit more clutter to the WordPress dashboard and its slick interface may not go down well with older computers, but it can be switched off at any point if this is causing problems.
If you want to give it a try yourself, you can view the video or follow the instructions here.
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