We like to tell ourselves that blogs are this breathtakingly new way of communicating with customers unlike anything we've ever seen before. And, to some extent, that's true. But if you are a veteran of electronic or even paper newsletters, I'll excuse you for not being so bowled over. You've been doing this for years and you know how it's done. One of the things you know is that coming up with fresh content takes work, and one of your secrets is re-publishing content originally published elsewhere. But should you do that on your blog?

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It's an interesting question, but first, let's get one thing out of the way. Never, in any environment, re-publish something that doesn't belong to you without the permission of the owner. You can't go Googling your way around the Internet swiping stuff you like and posting it in your own newsletter, blog, Web site, or any other form. And, no, you can't do it even if you put the original author's byline in. Or their copyright. I know that you see that done all the time. Copying and pasting is nearly effortless and it is a lot easier than writing your own stuff. But it's against the law.

Reputable newsletters were never doing that anyway. They found the content they wanted to re-publish, they got the proper permissions, they included bylines and copyright notices, and they re-published the content in a perfectly legal way. The advantage is that you can provide your readership with high quality content and it is easier than coming up with your own ideas every issue. It's the Reader's Digest approach, for those who remember that venerable magazine.

Many paper newsletters, and some e-mail newsletters, use the Reader's Digest approach effectively, but should you do the same for your blog?

Probably not. Blogs are somewhat different from newsletters in that they are more than informational--they are a more personal voice. So, if your goal for your blog is to establish yourself, than re-publishing others won't likely help.

And blogs differ from newsletters in another way--they typically attract more of their traffic from search than from subscribers. To understand why this matters, you need to know a bit about search engines. Search engines try to look at every page on the Web, so they eventually see every copy of the article you re-published--the original, your copy, and every other copy--but they want to show only the original, because they believe that is the one that searchers want. (And they can tell which one is the original by the dates on the pages, and other methods.)

So, if you re-publish content, even if it is to a far wider audience than the original reached, Google is still likely to show the original in search results. Search geeks call this the "duplicate content problem," and it is indeed a problem for the re-publisher, but it's not much of a problem for the originator. So, re-publishing content solves your problem of having material for your blog, but it will likely attract far fewer searchers than original content.

Some successful blogs do re-publish (they often use the word "syndicate") material from other blogs, but they don't do nearly as well as blogs with original content. I have a deal with a few places to syndicate my content, and they probably sell enough ads for it to be worthwhile, but when searchers look for articles on my subject, they find my Web site rather than the syndicated version.

So, original content is better, but then you're stuck coming up with ideas and writing your own stuff, which sounds hard (because it is). One way to have your cake and eat it, too, is to comment on the articles of other people. So, when you find an article you would have re-published in your paper newsletter (with permission, of course), instead of re-publishing it in your blog, you should write your own opinion about it and link to it. That way your readers get an original opinion from you, and they also are exposed to the original piece.

If you just write a sentence saying, "great post," that won't help you very much, but if you can consistently write two or three paragraphs with your take, that will provide some fodder for the search engines to find your site while also satisfying your loyal subscribers who depend on you for information in this area. And if you can write five or ten paragraphs with a well-thought-out opinion, agreeing or disagreeing with the original, or adding and expanding on points in the original, you have likely created a nice article both for your readers and for search engines, without the heavy lifting of having to think up an idea on your own.

If you're lucky, the originating blog supports trackbacks, which means your post will be linked from the original blog post in its comments section. That way, you also get traffic coming from the original post itself, which you'd never get by re-publishing.

Re-publishing, while a staple of the newsletter era, probably doesn't do enough for you to be part of your blog strategy in all but a few cases. In blogging, there is no substitute for originality.

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February 12, 2013

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


hey Mike,

there's a simple, little-known method we can use to "re-publish" content without getting the "duplicate content" issue... and that's called re purposing

Instead of copy-pasting an article, you could turn it into a SlideShow power point file (with the author permission, of course) or YouTube video, and post it on your web site.

Or, here's another interesting twist. Go to YouTube.com and find videos related to your niche industry -- create a transcribe (do it yourself, or hire a professional) of that video clip - and you have 100% original content to post on your blog/site.

Before you go with this approach, ensure you have the written permission of the author, and give credit where due... most bloggers/marketers will be happy to let you re-purpose their content, and have no issues with that method whatsoever.

What do you guys think about that?

I know some people that do as you say, John. It makes sense to me as a good technique because it really does deliver value. Some people who would never watch a video would read a blog post, others want slides--good tip!

"Some successful blogs do re-publish (they often use the word "syndicate") material from other blogs, but they don't do nearly as well as blogs with original content."

I actually had the opposite happen to me! My company blog was being syndicated on another marketing-minded site and a lot of times that 2nd site would rank above my own for the same content. My guess was that since that website has been online for longer and was a much more popular site in general Google was favoring that domain over my own.

Mike, I have republished content on one of my sites because it is valuable to my readers. The majority of the site is original content that appears nowhere else, but I also publish interesting articles they may not have seen before. (Of course, this is done with the authors' permission.)

The search engines may not appreciate the republished content, but my readers do. And there is plenty of original content to get the attention of the search engines.

This is not right for every site, but it can be a valid choice under the right circumstances.

I have also used your tip about commenting on and linking to another blog in a post. That is an effective way to share content with your readers and also build relationships with other bloggers. Almost everyone loves to see links coming in.

Thanks for a thoughtful post.

I can attest to the fact that the suggestion you finish with is a great way to come up with original content for your blog. Doing exactly that was a key part of how I went from twice-a-month blogger to daily blogger without having to double up on willpower and force myself to do it. After over a year of daily blogging, over half of my posts grew from the seeds of ideas I found on other blogs.

In fact, that method of coming up with ideas helped me so much that I made up a name for it: Blog Riffing. I think we all do it naturally some times. But when you start doing it consciously and deliberately, it makes regularly blogging much easier.

Thank You So Much. You just answered my Question about Republishing content. Keep up!

I don't really republish content on my blog, I always try and have a unique spin on anything that I publish. If you're inspired by another post or some research paper, you can credit that when including some parts of it but then you have to go deeper and put your unique spin onto it.

Many blogs just take RSS feeds from other blogs and steal their content, which as you say is not something that should be done at all.

But I do admire some of these "viral" blogs that source the content make it look better and more social with headlines, images etc and then get a lot of traffic by basically republishing content from other sites.

I think it might have worked for newspapers but online you should never republish anything. There is nothing better than fresh content whether on blogs on websites. And Google thinks the same way!

I have had content of mine stolen plenty of times but I have never stolen content myself. I have found informative articles on the web and spun off of it but i always left a link back to the original post.

That happens to me, to, Nick. I am OK with it because I figure that any way that people find me and notice me is fine. My purpose is not for my blog to be popular, but for me to get business. Great comment!

I think publishing new and fresh content on your seo blog is better then selling or giving your article writing power to someone else.

It will not only bring visits or create your audience but also create your business trust.

I like your point Mike. With the new era and of course with the constant changes in search engine algos content marketing become so hard for those marketers who depend on syndicating contents of others but an advantage to those with relevant, helpful and unique contents. We all know the importance of having a blog and contents come is so many forms. You can have videos, infographics, presentations and so on. If you have an existing content you can make a video out of it. Hope this tip could be a helping guide for all marketers out there.

Thanks Mike for your insights!

Great points! While I've tried various methods of churning out new content over the years, however, when I reference sometimes else's content with my own viewpoint, I get a better response. Even more than original content it seems. The more info the better.

Great post is very useful information for me thanks a lot for sharing with us !!

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