I recall being told by a writer “I Blog because I enjoy it. and don’t really care whether people read my work or not.” That is unusual, most writers get hooked by the act of writing. Hooked by the thrill of having others read their work. They the do everything they can to bring in the traffic and it is then they commit the greatest sins of blogging, to republish or to reblog.
Many bloggers don’t concern themselves with SEO, or for that matter the law. Yet they should pay close attention to both. To republish and reblog demands we pay attention to both.
2 Deadly Sins of Blogging
In “Web-based Articles: Make Your Writing Timeless” I stated “one thing you should NEVER, EVER, do is republish an article you have previously published.” This warning comes with good reason. Writers are always looking for shortcuts.
Not being religious I do not invoke images of the devil easily, but do so here with good reason.
Topics trend to wane, then become popular again. This means there are times when the topic of an article you have previously written suddenly becomes very popular. The first reaction is to commit one of the sins of blogging, to republish the piece, the aim being to have a shortcut, or quick method, of bringing people interested in the now trendy topic to your blog. Writers believe it easy to dig out an article they posted either earlier and re-post it.
Republishing is the worst possible thing you can do. There are some exceptions of course and we shall discuss these later, but on the whole, republishing is something to avoid.
The second deadly temptation is seeing something someone else has written and reblog it. At first glance reblogging seems like a form of flattery, a way of applauding the original writer and show off their work. Why do people like reblogging? WordPress provides a button at the bottom of each published page, alongside the “Like” button that says “Reblog”. If you own a blog, you hould turn this feature off, to discourage others from reblogging your work.
If WordPress provides the option then, surely, there is nothing wrong with re-blogging. I shall look at the reasons why reblogging is a very bad idea.
Republishing: The Worst Thing you can do?
It is true that, because of the structure of blogs, once posts leave the first page, they can leave your visitors’ radar too. Hence the temptation to re-publish when the topic becomes popular again. There are two reasons you should never republish a post you have written earlier:
People want original material to read, and
Search engines will downgrade your work.
Most of the material you write is ‘evergreen’ content and relevant to readers many years from now. Gaining readers depends upon either a good Google ranking or how you publicise your work via Social sites. When a topic becomes popular again there is no reason why you cannot publicise your older page, as if you had just written it.
When a writer reproduces their own work, without any modification, it is sheer laziness. There is not normally any problem about copyright, but it still leads to problems of uniqueness, the enemy of Google. This is one of the reasons for stating that republishing is one of the sins of blogging.
Copy the first three sentences of the work you intend to republish into Google and Bing then perform a search. There will almost certainly be some results. That old page may still show up in the results even though it is no longer active. Search engines have a long memory, one of the reasons that changes are necessary. Don’t be lazy, edit it and update it, remove the outdated clichés and include more recent examples.
Exception 1: The Original Site no Longer Exists
Truth is your material has relevance that lasts longer than the site it was first published on. Sites close — it is a fact.
When a site closes, it should disappear from the internet, yet there are still shadows of the material all around the web, including many web archives. Search engines are also very slow to remove old indexes from search results. The first assumption a search engine makes when a page cannot be found is that the problem is temporary — normally it is, the server crashed and the next time the search engine encounters the page everything is fine. Google receives no official notification that a site no longer exists, so its indexes are only modified (and pages removed) after repeated failures.
They say nothing is ever truly deleted from the internet. If a site closes then, eventually, it is deleted. There are web archives, but indexing works differently for these pages. If the original site is dead, that article you wrote more than 5 years ago may be viable again. Think about publishing it again on your new blog.
My suggestion — copy the first paragraph into a search engine and search for it. It should return no direct matches. If this is the case you can go ahead and publish after you have updated and modernised the piece. Another thing you can do is copy the entire article into a plagiarism checker to see where it exists.
Exception 2: The Piece is Re-written
Knowing the there is an SEO impact, the writer re-writes their post. Although it contains many of the same sentiments, is essentially new material. Writing, based on your original notes, not the published piece. Do not copy any paragraphs or sentences. Write them afresh and extend them when new ideas enter your mind.
One great thing about the English language is that there are dozens of ways to express yourself. There are many alternative words available to say the same thing. Use them.
Temptations exist to use an article re-writing tool. One of the advantages they offer is to automatically restate your idea in different words. But they operate on the principle of direct substitution, replacing words, not restructuring sentences. The problem of article spinners is that resulting sentences fail to make sense, unless you re-edit them. This minimises the effectiveness of the spin. Article spinners do provide a short cut to re-writing, but that is all it is. I have used article spinners in the past, but have found they require much work from a writer.
As a writer you have a duty to ensure the new article makes sense. When restating concepts, the structure of the sentence may need to change, not merely the words. Writers must still proof-read and edit the piece to ensure it makes sense. Often a good human writer or editor is better rewriting something than a computer program. Read each sentence, then re-write it based on what you now know, do not leave it as your knowledge was when you authored the original. By re-writing you are avoiding one of the sins of blogging.
The Sin of Reblogging
As mentioned before reblogging, at first glance looks like a form of flattery. I have stated before that the reason for re-blogging comes from the fact that “most writers are avid readers… and every once in a while come across a piece, where the immediate thought is ‘damn, I wish I’d written that’, the writer has expertly written about a topic that is close to your heart.”
The purpose seems a noble one: to share the knowledge another writer has to offer. This is the purpose — share web pages we get excited about. The thought is one that, at first glance, seems it should be applauded. The normal channel to share such things is through social media. Share the post. No one has a problem with social sharing. The problem is reblogging, which is one step too far, one of the sins of blogging.
A singer may sing the another singer’s song. Before they do so they must obtain permission, which is rarely denied provided the original rights continue being recognised. Therein lies the crux of the problem. Writing is not singing. It is fair use to copy a sentence or two, perhaps at most a paragraph. Any more is a breach of copyright. Reblogging normally copies the first 100 to 150 words into the new post you create then provides a link to the other person’s post. Not only is it a breach of copyright, but it has a negative SEO impact on the original article.
Exception 1 — Introducing the Article Yourself
On this site you may have come across the category called Web Explored. Here I explore articles that I believe readers would be interested in seeing. They are often a set of loosely associated material that I have either encountered while researching material, or were of interest as general reading material. Some of the featured pieces are from sites that I like and read from time to time. Sites like award winner Two Drops of Ink, to which I also contribute, are frequent contributors.
The point about Web explored is that this content will quote other writer’s pages, but doing so considering the rules of copyright and the needs of search engines. One of the things Search engines love are links to follow. By creating a piece with many off-site links you are helping index the web. One side effect it that it improves your standing with the search engines. The more links you include the greater your standing with the search engines.
What you are doing here is introduce the article yourself, using your own words. telling your readers why they should read it, what they will get out of it. This way the link is not about repeating the other writer’s words, but using your own.
Exception 2: Critiquing the Work
Another way to showcase someone else’s work is to critique it. Here you use your own words to highlight the good, the bad and the ugly parts of the other person’s material.
You can showcase where your arguments, align, perhaps by quoting your own work, alongside their work. Demonstrate similarities. Highlight the differences in much the same way. Further you can explain the differences in your own words, showcasing the different approaches and why that may be important to the reader. Perhaps arguing why one approach is better than another. You can also identify their deficiencies and show the steps to take to address them.
Remember critiques are often longer that the original because of the analysis involved. When critiquing you are not permitted to republish massive sections of another’s work, but you should highlight specific sentences or ideas which should then be opened up for discussion, using your own words. In my view few modern writers are adept at this form of writing, a speciality of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Need for Unique Material
Remember search engines, like Google, include a desire for uniqueness, one reason the dislike these sins of blogging. They reflect a human desire to see unique and relevant material every time we Google anything. Republishing and reblogging dilute the pool of original material unless these rules are followed. If you are writing you should think about providing something original at all times.
The Purpose of Reblogging — Please note this link is included as a reference. I now feel differently, about the views expressed, hence this piece.
Make a donation to the upkeep of GobbledeGoox as a way to thank Peter Giblett for exploring the sins of reblogging and republishing. If you have something to contribute, then please leave a comment. The images here were either created or owned by Peter Giblett or have been sourced from a public domain location, such as Pixabay.