Blogging Advice: Protecting Your Content
If you blog because you want to build a platform based on your unique voice and perspective, I have some blogging advice for you: It’s time to start thinking about how the internet (particularly Google) deals with your content.
What do you do when someone wants to republish your content on their site? Is it a good idea? Bad idea?
A flattering offer
It’s exciting when you start getting enough traction that organizations want to share your content. Keep in mind that generally no one pays to re-post your stuff, so you have to really think through all the other pros and cons.
1. Links to your blog: This is huge. Google and other search engines are looking at backlinks to see how popular and important your content is. These links will help you outrank others in searches for subjects you discuss. Every link back to your site is seen by Google as an endorsement (which is why you want to be careful about linking to content you hate).
2. A bio on the site: Most sites request an author bio and pic to post with your content. This can be a good way for people who like your post to jump over and discover more.
3. Credibility: There are over 450 million English-speaking blogs. Telling someone you’re a blogger isn’t exactly impressive until you start making some wins. Having your work re-posted on a major site can help give you some authority.
4. Relationships: It’s a great opportunity to build important networking relationships within an organization.
1. You lose important SEO: SEO (search engine optimization) measures the many factors which affect how search engines decide the visibility that your content has earned. You might publish a kick-ass and timely piece (which is why a website would want to re-post it), but if they have a more robust site than yours, they’re going to be seen as more authoritative than you — and Google will send them your traffic.
I wrote a post called Christian Cleavage Probably Isn’t the Problem and it was a bit of a hit driving about 20,000 visitors to my site. Relevant Magazine asked to run the article on their site and it was shared over 38,000 times. If you do a Google search for the phrase Christian Cleavage (I know . . . why would anyone search for that!?), Relevant ranks #1 for that term with my content. I rank #4.
Most sites are run on a advertising revenue model. So the more traffic you drive, the more they’re going to want your content. But the more you give them, the more of your content Google attributes to them. There are ways around this, and we’ll get to those in a bit.
2. Re-posted content doesn’t necessarily translate to traffic: All the content I have had shared on Relevant Magazine has been shared over 110,000 times. This has only translated to about 4,000 visits to my own site — not a great return on investment.
It’s important to recognize that when someone reads a post on an online magazine or content aggregating site, they’re not thinking about authorship. Like Google, they assume they’re just reading an article from that organization. In some ways that’s good. When someone gets pissed off on something I wrote on Relevant, they tend to blame Relevant and not me. But I don’t assume that people are going to read my post on another site and come to mine.
The first couple times someone re-posts your content and you see no bump in traffic is quite eye-opening.
So should you allow sites to share your content?
Deciding whether you allow another site to share your content kind of depends on your ultimate goal. If it is to create a platform built on your personal authority, here are some suggestions for how you partner with another site and not end up on the losing end of the value exchange.
1. Rewrite the content
This is a legitimate alternative to simply sharing your content. If you rewrite your post, you can find new ways to make the same point without penalizing your website in Google searches. It will be similar content but Google won’t recognize it as being identical.
2. Ask the site to add rel=canonical tags
This is a little more technical, but it’s something you need to get your head around. When Google robots are scanning sites they’re looking for HTML to tell them how to interpret the information. If a post includes a link in the <head> that tells them where the link is to the original (or canonical) post is, they will give preference to the correct post.
So, in the case of my Christian cleavage post, it was as easy as adding <link rel=“canonical” href=“http://jaysondbradley.com/2015/01/25/christian-cleavage-probably-isnt-problem” /> to the <head> of the new post.
Online curators and magazines: including this tag in content you appropriate is the ethical way to re-post content, and it should be part of your strategy.
3. Offer awesome posts to others
Did you write an incredible piece that you think someone would want to post? Consider simply offering it to them and not posting it on your site. Offering exclusive content is often the doorway into working with much more prestigious outfits or building a stronger rapport with content publishers you already work with. Sometimes the relationship worth much more than the content.
If you’re a serious blogger, you need to start thinking about how Google is dealing with your content! These little decisions are affecting your site’s health in the long run.
Have a question about your blogging? Drop me a line through my contact page or leave me a comment, maybe I can turn your question into a future post.