Project: Blog Engine

blog engine

Blog Engine is an app that syndicates blog posts to subscribing Pronto Marketing clients.


The Problem

Pronto Marketing’s original syndication service started with a WordPress plugin called AutoBlogged. AutoBlogged was a plugin that allowed websites to republish blog posts from another source.

AutoBlogged worked at first, but as Pronto continued to scale, and client needs changed, it was clear that they needed a more robust solution.

One big challenge was how to differentiate content between clients within a close proximity. For instance, two IT Consultant companies in Seattle.

Reliable publishing was also an issue. Scheduled cron jobs would often fail, resulting in the team having to manually publish and fix.

The Solution

Instead of relying entirely on a WordPress plugin, we decided to build a separate app to provide most of the functionality. Blog Engine would be the connector between the original source “master blogs” and each client website.

blog engine

To combat the differentiation challenge, Pronto started publishing three slightly different versions of each post on the master blog. Each version had a different title, featured image and first paragraph. This allowed for posts to appear different at a glance on a blog, or in an email newsletter.

We built a “post group” model into Blog Engine to keep this organized. Within Blog Engine, one can assign up to six different post variations as a single “post group”. Each group has a variation label A-F.

Pronto assigned variation labels to new clients, making sure that companies close to each other received different posts.

Each client’s subscription preferences exist in Blog Engine. Preferences include blog topics, region and post variations. For example, one client could only subscribe to “VoIP” and “Google Apps” articles while another could subscribe to “Android” and “Social Media.”

Pronto and clients can manage subscriptions directly in their WordPress website via a plugin that connects with Blog Engine.

Once a new post is automatically published on a subscribing website, the client can freely modify the content to make it their own.

To avoid any duplicate content penalties, each post i automatically set to “noindex” and links back to the master post as a reference. Here’s an article covering the topic of syndicated duplicate content in detail, and the data that suggests there isn’t any negative SEO effect if you do it right.

Today, Blog Engine syndicates thousands of blog posts to hundreds of subscribing clients each month.

Technologies Used

  • Django
  • Nginx

Cory Brown

Cory Brown

Co-founder

If he's not making you smile with his quick wit, charm and kindness, Cory is hard at work serving customers at Pronto Marketing. His talents also include playing piano and navigating his motorbike through Bangkok’s sea of traffic with aplomb. - Cory's mother