I want to share two services with you today. One of the more tedious aspects of blogging can be properly hyperlinking your content and finding relevant images to spruce it up. I know I've spent upwards of an hour in the past looking for Creative Commons images relevant to my topic. Then I had to go through the trouble of making sure I was properly linking back to the images source to be sure I wasn't stepping on any toes.
The first tool I started using to help with the image and linking problem was Apture. In the past, you could find it in use on a few popular sites like The Washington Post, The Economist and Scribd. The easiest way to see it in action now is to go to the Apture About page and highlight any piece of content.
My favorite feature at the time was the ability to search for Creative Commons images right from within my WordPress Edit Post screen. Apture would then properly link back to the source and I was good to go. You could also create links to rich media popup boxes as well to encourage users to click a link rather than waiting for them to highlight some text. The service looked great with YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia. Sadly, they stopped supporting the plugin, and the community was not happy.
The current state of Apture is still something worth exploring. You can request a customized line of code to insert into your WordPress site that will enable the media popup functionality. The real benefit of using the service to open links in rich media popups is your reader will stay on your site longer. In fact, according to the Apture website:
"When visitors use Apture, they spend 2-4x more time on the page and view 1.5-2x more pages per visit".
So what I lost from Apture when they stopped supporting their WordPress plugin, I found in Zemanta. Zemanta adds a few extra boxes to your WordPress Edit Post screen similar to the way Apture once did. However, the main focus of Zemanta is to assist in the hyperlinking, tagging and insertion of relevant images into your site. My favorite feature is the ability to personalize my sources so Zemanta can recommend better content for my site. I can also refine my Zemanta results to find better images and links without every leaving my WordPress dashboard. Half of the links in this post and all of the images were created and found using Zemanta.
Zemanta also takes recommending posts to the next level. The system uses my own sources as well as popular sources around the web to find posts relevant to the topic of my post. The list constantly refreshes itself as I type, making the links more and more relevant to my content. When I hover over the links to decide whether or not to insert them, it tells me how old the post is as well as how many Tweets and Facebook likes the post has.
Another cool part of Zemanta is how many different ways you can use it. You can install the WordPress plugin to use it on just that one site or any one of their browser plugins to use it on an array of popular blogging sites.
Just Scratching The Surface
These tools are just a small subset of what's out there to help you create better content. If you know of any similar tools, please share them in the comments below.
Image by Sami KeinÃ¤nen