It’s flattering when someone from a website that gets a lot of traffic and has a lot of followers reaches out to you and tells you that they are interested in republishing blog content from your blog on their site. It tells you that you aren’t labouring in vain; that your work hasn’t gone unnoticed. The thought that a blog post that originally appeared on your blog and received just a few views and comments now has the potential to be seen by many more people is exciting.
I was approached by an online publication and told that five or so of my blog posts had been selected for publishing in their entirety on the website of this brand. This site wasn’t trying to pass off the work as their own: I would be given full credit and links to my website would be added to the post. All I had to do was provide a biography and I’d be off to the races as they say.
In the end I decided not to go along with this for two main reasons:
- Duplicate content is not good for site engine optimization (SEO) and even though the blog post first appeared on my website, because the other site is much bigger there’s a chance that over time this site would become the top link for my content, and that didn’t sit well with me.
This is Google’s take on duplicate content. What stood out to me from that page is if you allow your content to be published on other sites,
Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer…[I]t is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your … article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.
We’ll come back to that last sentence at the end.
- What motivation will anyone have to come to my website after they have read an entire post elsewhere? They would have to really fall in love with that one post and be hungry for more and in this world where attention spans are shorter than ever, and there are so many more blogs, this is less likely than it used to be.
So I suggested a compromise that was based heavily on what Hubspot has in place:
- any of my original images or videos used had to be attributed to me and to my website
- up to 75 words of any text content on my website could be used on their site, and they had to attribute the excerpt to me and include my website address
- links to blog articles had to link to the specific blog post and not just generally to my website
Once published, you own the copyright to your work. I told them that if the above allowed them to meet their own needs for their publication then we could proceed. I didn’t get a response; instead my blog post was republished in its entirety. I immediately wrote to explain that this didn’t meet the terms I had outlined and while I think my blog post was initially republished by mistake, the hassle to locate the right person who could either meet my conditions or remove my blog post was more than I expected. It wasn’t handled professionally at all, but in the end my blog post is no longer on that website.
My point is simple: don’t get so caught up in the thought of having your work republished on sites bigger than your own that you give away your rights as the source of the content. This is NOT the same as guest posting, which I support: ideally when you decide to guest post, you’re creating original content, hopefully your best stuff, and deliberately sharing it on a website that receives more traffic than your own in the hopes that people will come back for more (or better yet, you’re hoping they’ll sign up for your email newsletter so you can develop a relationship with them). This is why your absolute best content should be what you guest post: its intent is to leave people wanting more of you.
If you want your blog posts to go further than they usually do, first off, write something mind-blowing, something that can’t be found practically verbatim on other websites. If you write and publish a blog post without giving yourself a moment to process it and refine it, unless it’s a personal story it’s probably not your best work or the best version of the post. It could still be a winning post, sure, but if your goal is for it to be shared far and wide, give the post the respect you’d give any ambassador!
Once the post is worthy (and do not do like me and spend too much time tweaking!), use social media for more than spying on people you don’t particularly like (ahem): use it instead to spread your post in a non-spammy way. If you’re in Facebook groups where you can share your blog post, do so as long as your post can actually help. Share your post on Twitter many times, not just once or twice. Create graphics for Instagram using the information I’ve shared before. And don’t forget Periscope and Pinterest if those platforms tickle your fancy! People can’t read your post if they never hear about it, and this is where many people, me included, do our blog posts a disservice. I’m starting to believe that anyone who has been blogging for longer than a minute would be better off taking a month off from writing blog posts for their blog and instead write one guest post to be published on a blog that has their kind of people as readers, and spend the rest of the time promoting existing posts they’ve already written.
Now that you know where I personally stand on the matter, there are pros and cons to larger websites republishing blog content that belongs to you. Some people prioritize sharing their message widely over maintaining ownership of their content and I can’t fault that, especially if the message is attached to a cause that needs a lot of financial support.
One last thing: the excerpt that I shared above from Google mentions that you can ask anyone who republishing blog content that belongs to you to do so with a noindex meta tag, so that Google will know to not count versions of your blog post that appear elsewhere. This is an excellent idea, but it may be hard to convince a publisher to do this for your sake. It’s worth a try though, especially since there’s a plugin for that (at least for WordPress users!).
If you’re a blogger, do you allow your blog posts to be republished on other websites?