Third-Party Content: Should You Use It On Your Blog?

Steven4 responsesBlogging
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There are varying degrees of plagiarism that range from out-and-out stealing to shady practices like spinning content.

Let’s face it, though, there are only so many ways you can state a fact or opinion and with hundreds of bloggers in a single niche there’s bound to be a little “sharing.

Here are some tips to help you legitimately use other people’s content.

What Is Duplicate Content?

Unscrupulous webmasters are able to get away with plagiarism because Google views duplicate content as any content that you’ve published in more than one location on your own site. Some secondary search engines view duplicate content as content that’s published on more than one site. So, Google doesn’t care how many times you publish the same article, as long as it’s on different sites, while Ezine Articles for example won’t let you publish anything that can be found anywhere else on the web.

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As for ranking, the original article will rank higher than the copies that are published afterward. However, if the plagiarizing site happens to rank higher than the author’s site, it can rise higher on the index. This is why it’s important to monitor your content periodically and demand that anyone using your articles without your permission, whether they’re linking to your or not, take them down immediately.

Using Another Blogger’s Entire Article

It’s never alright to publish another blogger’s content in its entirety on your own blog unless you have that other blogger’s written permission. This can be accomplished with a simple email.

There are article directories and syndication sites that allow you to copy and paste the full article but you must also include the complete link with that article, without changes, when you publish it on your blog.

RSS Syndication

It’s possible to use the RSS feed from any blog and pull their complete content onto your own blog. You can set this up with a widget if you’re using WordPress and you can pull either the complete article or just a blurb. Either way, you must not remove or change any of the links back to the original author.

Citing Your Sources

Most bloggers want to do the right thing, it’s just that they don’t know what the “right thing” is. Every time you cite your sources you’re only adding to your credibility. If you state something as a fact, your readers can always question how you know it’s a fact, but if you link to your reliable resource then that question is eliminated.

Here are some tips for citing your sources:

Direct Quotes: If you’re directly quoting a portion of an article from another site, it’s important to credit the author with a link back to his article.

Ideas or Concepts: If you’re not using a direct quote but simply summarizing another blogger’s idea, concept or statement, it’s still a good idea to cite your source. Again, it builds your credibility and provides additional value for your readers.

Avoiding Leakage When You Link Out

Many bloggers hesitate to link to their sources because they’re afraid their readers are going to follow that link and leave their blog. There’s a simple way to minimize this leakage problem.

Instead of giving your readers half the story and telling them they can find more information if they “follow this link”, include all the relevant information right there in your own post and then simply cite your source. If you give your readers all the information they need they’ll have no reason to follow your link.

When Should You Use Other People’s Content?

Sharing other people’s content with your readers is great, as long as you make it relevant for your readers. For example, if your post says, “Today, Dukeo said…” and you simply reword my article, you’re not providing any value for your readers other than sending them to this blog.

But, if you add your own viewpoint and tell your readers why you think this information is valuable to them, then you look like an expert. More important, you look like a more credible expert because you’ve cited a reliable source to back-up your opinion.

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  1. Andrew Healey

    Hi Steven, I always thought that Google frowned on duplicate content regardless of whether it is on separate sites. I guess you learn something new every day. Thanks.

  2. Ed

    How about WordPress which allows others to ‘reblog’ your posts to theirs in one click? I’m never sure whether to ba flattered or to think ‘why don’t you write your own post?’!

    1. In your place, I wouldn’t worry too much. Nowadays, Google make a pretty good job at finding out who is the original author of a piece of content.

  3. Stevie Wilson

    Hey Ste
    someone just sent me some nice little hate mail over this post– when it’s clearly NOT about what she is saying.

    Here’s what the person posted:
    I don’t think you should be posting articles online helping people to find ways to post other people’s content, window dressing it with disclaimers — we all know people copy and paste and but this is not a strategy, it’s creative bankruptcy. If you make money doing it that money doesn’t belong to you.

    She is attributing to me what you said.. and second you aren’t saying borrow the entire thing. You are saying get permission first. ASK and use hyperlinks for jump pages

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