Okay, so you’ve just received an email in your inbox from someone that’s asking if they can “republish” your content directly on their website.
It reads something like this…
My name is Kylie Goodman of XYZ Business Productions. We’re an established company offering up to date news, trends and current affairs on the subject of SEO. We’re interested in republishing your article titled “How Much Does SEO Cost? How Much Should You Be Paying?” on our website, located at xyzbusinessproductions.com. We feel our readers would very much enjoy this content as it is highly relevant to our audience. What we would like to do is simply copy the article as it is, and put it on our site. Would you mind giving us a call or letting us know if this would be okay?”
First thing you might think is, “Wow, this is fantastic news, XYZ Business Productions are a huge company and I’ll get so much exposure!” and reply with an immediate “YES!” …but before you do, it’s important that you’re aware of a few things before you give the go ahead.
In this article, I’m going to show you exactly what you need to be mindful of before you allow other site owners to republish your content on their sites, because while it might seem harmless enough, things can go pear shaped quickly if you get this wrong.
Let’s jump right into it.
The benefits of sharing your content
For the most part, sharing your content with other site owners is fine. Infact, unless you’re sharing a LOT of content with other site owners continually, then you really won’t need to worry. However there are certain guidelines you should follow.
But for now, let’s have a look at why you might consider doing this.
Sharing your content can bring more traffic
Everyone wants traffic, right? Of course, and this is why sharing a piece of your own content on another site can be beneficial. Especially if the site that is going to republish your content, is well established, has high authority and a large readership. This is exactly what you want – your name, your brand, and YOU demonstrating your level of expertise in front of a large audience, all wanting to consume your content.
When you’re given the opportunity to share your content in front of an established audience, there’s every chance that many of them will want to know more about you and your business, and go on to click through to your site.
Sharing your content can put you in front of an audience immediately
One of the toughest challenges faced with any online business is building a following. That is, email subscribers, social followers and those that just come back to your site time and time again. The benefits of establishing an audience are huge – the biggest of which is that you build a level of redundancy for your business. When you do this, you’re not prone to losing everything overnight, should your site lose rankings within Google, or your Facebook page gets shut down.
Sharing your content on a big site, that gets a lot of traffic and eyeballs is a great thing. It allows you to instantly tap into huge audiences that have the potential to go on to become loyal followers. This can all help increase traffic, sales and revenue.
Sharing your content can help raise brand awareness
This one is pretty self explanatory.
Unless people know about you, chances are they’re not likely to be visiting your site or talking about you elsewhere on the web. Through sharing your content – again, especially to larger, more established websites, you can instantly raise brand awareness and let people know about you and your business.
It doesn’t cost anything
Any site owner that is spending money on paid traffic and other forms of paid promotions online, understands exactly what I mean when I say it can become quite expensive. Especially when operating in highly competitive markets. Sharing your content however comes at no cost. It’s just a matter of allowing other site owners to republish and promote your content on their site.
As said above, this can lead to more traffic, sales, leads and conversions – at no cost. That’s pretty awesome.
The risks involved with sharing your content
Let’s now take a look at some of the potential downsides to sharing your content.
Carelessly sharing your content can damage your SEO
For most of us, this won’t be a problem.
However for site owners that have gone about sharing a LOT of content across multiple sites without taking SEO into consideration – they’re going to be faced with a potential problem. The issues could be numerous, (which I’ll cover in a moment), but the most obvious one is duplicate content.
Google hates duplicate content, for the simple fact that it makes no sense for them to crawl, index and cache the same piece of content, over and over and over.
Google wants unique pieces of content that’s relevant to the users search query, and when they’re faced with finding multiple instances of the same piece of content published across a number of sites, they need to start asking the question, “Is this web spam?”
From there, Google can really do what they please. They might hit you with a penalty, de-index your article, your site, or rank the copy above yours.
Duplicate content penalties
The whole duplicate content penalty seems to be this mysterious dark “unknown”. I’ve heard so many explanations and definitions of what IS a duplicate penalty, what’s okay to publish where, and why – but to be honest, at times I still feel somewhat confused by it all.
Rather than guess, let’s take a look at what Google defines as “duplicate content”…
Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin. Examples of non-malicious duplicate content could include:
- Discussion forums that can generate both regular and stripped-down pages targeted at mobile devices
- Store items shown or linked via multiple distinct URLs
- Printer-only versions of web pages
You can read more about that here along with some suggestions as to how you can avoid any duplicate content problems.
What’s interesting is that Google openly admits that, “Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin” which is exactly why I said in most cases, you won’t need to worry. However they do go on to say, “..in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic”
This is definitely the case for site owners creating multiple instances of their own website, across numerous domains.
At the end of the day, it comes down to intent.
- Are you sharing your content because you think it would be useful for others?
- Are you sharing your content simply because you’ve been asked to? …OR
- Are you sharing your content all over the place in order to get more traffic, and game Google
Sometimes, even when you’re sharing your content for the right reasons, it can end badly, because you overlooked something, or it’s seen as “deceptive” in Google’s eyes.
Panda was a Google update that was released in 2011, and it’s aim was to target low quality content sites (amongst other things). According to Neil Patel, he was hit with a Panda penalty as a result of sharing his content on other sites.
What’s interesting to note, is that even after cleaning up the mess, he was unable to fully recover.
Neil actually makes a point that they lost a “whopping 225,418 visitors a month”. That’s pretty severe.
Wikipedia’s definition of the Panda update, reads as follows …
Google Panda is a change to Google‘s search results ranking algorithm that was first released in February 2011. The change aimed to lower the rank of “low-quality sites” or “thin sites”, and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results.
You can read the full definition of Panda here.
What’s interesting to note (in Neil’s case) is how Google takes action, even on the legitimate sharing of content. That seems pretty harsh, but fortunately, it is avoidable. In any case, you most certainly don’t want to cop a Panda penalty due to multiple instances of your content on the web.
Being outranked by the copy
This is one that not many site owners give much consideration, but it can, and does happen – especially if you share your content on sites that are more authoritative than yours. What does that mean? It means if you’ve just published an article on your site and it’s featured on say, the “Huffington Post” website or “CNN”, then chances are that that copy is going to rank much higher than yours in the search results because they have a much stronger online presence.
This can happen, even if you have them link back to your site.
Loss of traffic and engagement
In most cases (if not all) the golden rule of any online business is to drive traffic back to your site. That’s because it’s a property you control. Once visitors are at your site, they can buy your stuff, join your email list, or send you a direct enquiry.
If someone is reading your content on another site, then chances are, that none of that’s going to happen.
How to safely share your content with other site owners
Okay so now that we’ve covered some of the benefits and risks involved with sharing your content, what are some viable solutions to protect ourselves?
The answer lies in using what’s known as “canonical tags”.
What are canonical tags?
Again let’s look at the Wikipedia definition…
“A canonical link element is an HTML element that helps webmasters prevent duplicate content issues by specifying the “canonical” or “preferred” version of a web page as part of search engine optimization. It is described in RFC 6596, which went live in April 2012.”
Canonical tags are html markup elements that allow us to specify the original source or preferred URL of the document.
Here’s the syntax.
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.seopoint.com.au/blog/how-to-share-your-content-on-other-websites-without-receiving-a-google-penalty/">
And here’s how it looks within the html itself.
As you can see, we are specifying the original source of the document (which is this document – the full URL path)
So in order to safely share your content with other site owners, you simply need to ensure that they include the canonical tag.
You should always set the canonical tag on your own site, too.
This then ensures that Google understands exactly what’s going on, and as a result, eliminates any risk of potential duplicate content issues.
Rewrite the content
Look if you’re really paranoid about having any issues, then simply rewrite your content.
It goes without saying that this method is by far the safest way to share your content on other sites without any risk at all.
However whilst this is most definitely the “safest” way, it’s not always the most suitable, because chances are, that anyone who wants to republish your content wants that EXACT piece of content, and not a near copy. Rewriting your content is definitely something to take into consideration if you’re not absolutely sure or would just prefer to be 100% on the safe side.
This really has nothing to do with anything that I’ve covered here so far, but it’s usually always best practice to have the site owner link back to you. This at least gives you the opportunity to get some traffic to your site. You can simply set the canonical tag to protect yourself, but remember – get people back to your site. It’s always advisable to use trackable links (so that you know exactly where the traffic is coming from)
Request a BIO
Something else that you may want to request is what’s known as a “BIO” box. That is something that gives a brief overview of who you are, and your background. BIO boxes are usually positioned at the very end of an article or piece of content.
Here’s a simple example…
This at least puts your face and details to the content, which can be great in raising awareness about yourself and your brand. (It isn’t essential, but nice to have)
Deciding who to share your content with
Another question you may have is, “Who should I share my content with?”
It goes without saying that you’ll only want to share your content on trustworthy sites that aren’t full of spam and other nonsense that could potentially harm your site. Whilst the chances of your site being negatively effected in any way due to your content being posted on a spammy site probably aren’t likely, it’s definitely something you’ll want to be aware of.
I would recommend taking a look at the following metrics before agreeing to allow other site owners
Common sense goes a long way. Take a look at the website and ask yourself,
- Is this a site that I would be comfortable sharing my content with?
- Is the content on this site relevant?
- Does this site appear to be active?
- Does this site have a big social following?
- Is this site simply republishing everyone elses content? Does it look like a ‘content farm’?
Talk to the person via Skype
If you can, schedule a Skype call and have a chat with the person that’s interested in republishing your content. There’s no better way to get a feel for someone and what their intentions are, than by chatting with them.
Research the site, publisher
You may also want to do a little bit of research on the website itself, its history, background and the site owner.
How to find your content that’s been published without your permission
What if you’re concerned that someone may have already posted your content on their site without you knowing? This is another great question and one that is a little bit tricky to answer accurately, but here are some potential solutions.
Obviously, one of the easiest ways is to perform a search within Google. The best way to find your content is to do a search in Google using quotes. You might want to try pasting in the exact title of your content or even a “chunk” of selected text from within the article itself. For instance, I might try the following…..”How to Share Your Content on Other Websites without Receiving a Google Penalty”, or I might try entering a selection of wording from this article, again using “quotes”.
This will find any EXACT copies of my content, to which I might request the addition of a canonical tag (or removal if the site appears to be spammy)
Probably the easiest way is to automate the process, because let’s face it, if you’ve got a lot of content on your site, having to trawl the web searching for stuff just isn’t viable.
Google Alerts is pretty cool. You can enter sections of text or wording and as Google finds it on the web, it will send you an email, straight to your inbox informing you. This can save you an enormous amount of time and lower the stress levels a bit.
Here’s a great explainer video about how Google Alerts works.
Checking once published
Okay lastly, how can we confirm that our content has the canonical tag added?
There are two easy ways to check this.
Firstly is to simply right click the webpage and select “view source”. Then do a search for “canonical”. If you find it – it’s there!
Online canonical tool checker
If you’re not comfortable digging around in html code, you might want to try using this online canonical tool checker. This tool is very easy to use. Just enter the URL and click on “perform check” and it will tell you if the canonical tag is present.
Sharing your content on other websites can be a great way of attracting more traffic and building an audience, but you’ve got to make sure you do it right.
Before sharing your content with other site owners, you should always be asking yourself –
- Is this site relevant?
- Is this a quality site?
- Is it really worth my while sharing it here?
And most importantly, setting the canonical tag to prevent any issues.
If you have a comment or a suggestion then please post it below and I will respond personally. Additionally, if you’ve found this article useful then be sure to share it with your friends.
I’m off for a cuppa.