Stolen Content May Not Be So Bad After All

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stolen content

Having your content stolen is only a good thing if it’s stolen correctly. In other words, it has to somehow benefit you, the owner of the content. For this reason, the word “stolen” is really not the right word because you’re actually letting people steal, and by definition stealing isn’t usually someone that’s encouraged. Nonetheless, in the digital marketing world the idea of republishing content can be either negative or positive depending on how and when it’s done.

Stealing content correctly means that the owner of the content is allowing you to republish it, with his/her permission. In other words, if the publisher makes it known that the content can be republished by posting, for example, an embed code (or all of the options listed in the next section); you’re in the right. If he/she does not make it known and you ask for permission and are then given that permission, you’re in the right. Any other “stealing” of content is wrong.

So how can you make this clear, when should you use this tactic, and are there any downsides?

The Pros and Cons of Stolen Content

The Pros

You Get More Eyes On Your Content

This is definitely the number one reason businesses like allowing others to republish their content. The more times the content is published, the more eyes that get to see that content and see that you wrote it. This could help bring more visibility and recognition to your brand.

It Could Help Bring in More Traffic

On that same note, if you have more people viewing your content that maybe have never heard of you before, they may like what they see and then navigate to your page to see more about you.

SEO Can Benefit From a Natural Link

Whenever someone republishes your content, it is understood that they need to link back to the original. This will be a link back to your website, which will help improve your SEO.

It’s an Easy Way to Promote Your Content

Going along with the last three points, this is a great way to earn exposure without having to do much at all.

The Cons

The Republished Content May Outrank You

This is the number one negative to this approach. If a great site republishes your content then there is a chance that in the SERPs the republished content will outrank your content. Even if it’s just by one space, all of the traffic will be headed to the result that shows up first.

A Spammy Site Might Ruin Your SEO

Your SEO wouldn’t be ruined completely, but you don’t want a link back to a spammy site because that will hurt your SEO slightly if it happens to often. You can always disavow these links in the future, but it’s easy to miss!

How to Allow Stolen Content Correctly

The default setting for most people on the web is “don’t steal content because of duplicate content issues.” If you do want people to steal your content correctly, though, t you can make sure your readers know it’s OK by:

  • Including an embed Code and making It very obvious.
  • Making an announcement about republishing
  • Putting a note about republishing In your “About Us” section

The tricky thing about stealing content is sometimes people automatically assume that they can steal your content so long as there is a backlink. The truth is that while a backlink is nice (and necessary), that doesn’t mean it’s OK with every publisher.

As a publisher, I highly recommend using CopyScape so that you can keep tabs on anyone and everyone who is stealing your content. If you are okay with certain pieces of content being republished (maybe you used one of the tactics above) then great, but if not then it’s up to you to say something.

According to an Outbrain article, using CopyScape is also a great way to find new opportunities. If you know who is stealing your content, you know who is interested in what you do. It may be worth it to reach out and see if they’re interested in working together or publishing something else you’ve created.

How do You Know Which Content Can be Stolen?

It’s completely up to you to decide which content you want to make available to be republished and which content you don’t. In general, infographics are a great option for republishing because everyone knows where they need to look to see the credit for the infographic (the bottom).

Infographics also don’t have as much content as a traditional article, so they’re easier to “steal.” Aside from that, it’s up to you to look at the pros and cons mentioned above and see which content is worth the risk.

Burglar Photo via Shutterstock

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