Your business has a blog, and you spend a good amount of time, money or both to keep it updated. But what if you google your company name and find out that another website is taking your blog posts, in full, and reprinting them on their own site. Is this good or bad for your company?
Reblogging and Curated Content
Before we dive into the answer, let’s take a look at how and why this happens. In many cases it’s what’s called reblogging, a practice made incredibly popular by the Tumblr blogging platform (although that’s far from the only place where it happens). Reblogging means that you liked a blog post so much you share it on your own blog, with a link to the original. Sometimes the reblogger will add commentary, and other times they’ll just post it as-is.
At a glance this sounds a lot like plagiarism. However, reblogs come with benefits. For example:
- Each reblog of your post establishes a backlink pointing at your site. This is good for SEO.
- More people see your message, and most likely your brand name. It builds recognition.
- A percentage of readers will follow the link from the reblog and start reading your own blog, which means more site traffic for you.
- You are getting a form of social approval from the reblogger. Being reblogged helps establish you as an authority.
Having your work reblogged is generally considered a compliment. On Tumblr, one of the main things a blogger hopes for is that people will reblog as widely as possible. Like it or not, reblogging is common and it’s here to stay.
There are other ways a website might use your content. Many websites “curate” content instead of producing content of their own. This just means they look at lots of articles on a given topic and choose the best or most interesting to share with their readers. Entire businesses, like Paper.li, exist purely to make it easier for people to curate content.
Curation works a lot like reblogging, except that your content will be shown with other related content beside it, and often only an excerpt will be shown. Users may have to click through (to your site) to read the full piece.
For the purposes of this article I’m going to refer to both of these methods as simply “reblogging.”
Theft and Reblogging
Depending on how protective you are of your content, you could make the case that reblogging is just a form of theft. But there’s a crucial difference.
The difference is that reblogging, by definition, involves giving both credit and a link to the original source. No one pretends your content belongs to anyone but you. That’s very different from a site that, for example, simply takes your work word-for-word and publishes it as their own. That would be plagiarism, plain and simple. When someone plagiarizes your work, you should at a minimum request that they take it down (or attribute it and link to you). But if they reblog you, the right response may not be as clear.
How to Respond to Reblogging
In most cases if someone reblogs your work you should view it as a good thing. It may feel weird to see your content used on someone else’s site, but from a business perspective it’s a win. This is how the internet works, for better or for worse, and seeing your content reblogged means you’re doing something right.
Obviously, this is not true if you’re a media company and publishing content is your business. If your subscribers have to pay to read your work, and someone else is “reblogging” it for free, you’re losing revenue. But that’s not most businesses. Any content you put out for free should be considered fair game.
You may even want to go a step farther, and cultivate a relationship with rebloggers. If someone shares an entire post of yours, for example, respond warmly:
- Go to their blog and leave a comment thanking them.
- Pose a question in your comment, perhaps asking them what made them share it. Strike up a dialogue.
- Consider taking their reblog of you and sharing it on Facebook and Twitter, giving them some social media love.
Why would you do all this? Because they put you in front of their audience, and if you build a good relationship with them they might do it more often.
For most business the only consequence of reblogging is more potential traffic to your site. You don’t need to actively encourage it, but it’s in your best interest not to discourage it, either.
At least, as long as Google recognizes you as the original author—but that’s a topic I’ll get into next time.