Content Curation, Republishing, and Theft – What Helps and Hurts Your Brand

When it comes to content creation, there is still a lot of confusion when it comes to three major things that are happening in the content world: curation, republishing, and theft. Which ones are helpful to do? Which ones are harmful? And which ones do you even have control over? In today’s post, we’re going…

When it comes to content creation, there is still a lot of confusion when it comes to three major things that are happening in the content world: curation, republishing, and theft. Which ones are helpful to do? Which ones are harmful? And which ones do you even have control over? In today’s post, we’re going to look at whether you should use content curation and republishing in your content strategy along with the how content theft may impact your website.

Content Curation

Content curation takes on a different meaning depending on who you ask. My definition, when it comes to blogging, is when you find lots of different posts on a particular topic and link to them in one collection such as “30 Great Posts on Google Analytics” or similar. Generally you will include a link to each post and then a short summary about why it’s a good post to check out.

This graphic by Stephano Maggi on Flickr helps explain the value of curation.

There are lots of great examples of content curation, most notably the daily search engine news recap SearchCap published by Search Engine Land. Depending on how many articles you have on your own blog, you may even be able to create a post curating your own content like Mashable does with their Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed.

Does content curation hurt your blog? Not at all. While there are lot of people who claim to “hate” list posts, they can’t deny that big lists like these do draw traffic and social shares. If nothing else, you’ll definitely get some notice from the people whose posts you include in your list. Sometimes you’ll even build links to your list from the posts you include thanks to trackbacks generated automatically by the blog platform itself.

If you’re looking to build brand authority, however, you shouldn’t only post curated content. Visitors might get the impression that you don’t have anything to say about the topic at hand and have to rely solely on other people’s content to get your message across. Instead, aim to do a good mix of 80% your own unique content and 20% content curation. Also skip the software that automates finding blog posts by keyword and pasting them as new articles on your blog one at a time with a clip of the post and the link. Curating a post of 30 resources on a particular topic takes effort – automating a post with minimal, duplicated content with a link looks lazy and could lead to a visit from Google Panda.

Content Republishing

As someone who produces a lot of content, one question I’m asked occasionally is if it is alright to republish a post in its entirety from one site to another. Sometimes it is because the topic of the post fits their industry and other times it is because I mentioned their product within the post.

If you ever want to publish another person’s content in whole on your blog, you must ask the author’s permission. If you can’t reach the author, you can also check with the original publisher. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to get permission from both. This is the best way to ensure you are not accused of content theft.

Next, you have to consider the potential repercussions. Google is not a fan of duplicate content, however republishing the occasional post from one site to another doesn’t seem to be harmful. Just be sure to note at the very beginning of the post that it is republished with permission, who it was written by, and where it was originally published (including a link). This lets your visitors (and Google) know that you’re not outright stealing content but just re-sharing it.

Content Theft

For some odd reason, some people think it is OK to find a piece of content on one site and republish it on their own without permission and many times without a credit back to the original author or publisher. Many sites do this using automated software to grab any piece of content covering a specific topic using RSS feeds of other blogs. Some use automated software to constantly steal content from multiple blogs (regardless of topic), also using RSS feeds. And others do it manually.

Unless a website specifically states that its content is free to use under Creative Commons Licensing, then you should not use another website’s content without asking for permission first. Even with content under the Creative Commons Licensing, you still have to give attribution to the original author and publisher vs. posting it like you wrote it yourself.

Amazingly, content theft isn’t just limited to those trying to make a quick buck off of ad-infused websites. Businesses do it too, either not realizing it is wrong or not caring. In either instance, aside from it just being ethically wrong, it demonstrates that you don’t have enough knowledge to create your own unique content. And that doesn’t go very far in helping you build yourself as someone who knows what they are doing in your industry.

Also, Google has added a new signal to their rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices received for any given site. This means that if your website is reported as a copyright infringer, you will eventually lose your rankings.

When Your Content is Stolen

On the flipside, what do you do when someone steals your content? Does it hurt your website? Some say it doesn’t – that Google knows who is the original publisher of a piece of content and automatically discounts any copies.

Of course, there are examples out there stolen content that are ranking higher than their original counterpart as was noted by author Shahzad Saeed in this article on ProBlogger. This could be in part because of Google’s algorithm to rank fresher content first. If your post was from six months ago and a content scraper published it today, then theirs would be newer in the eyes of the algorithm.

So how do your fight content theft? You can start by finding the site owner’s information (if possible) and asking them politely (but firmly) to take down your content. Should that fail, you can take the next step and file a DMCA takedown request.

Unfortunately, finding and fighting the number of websites that are stealing content can be time consuming and frustrating. Since a lot of content thieves use automated software that works from your RSS feed, you can always try to get your attribution in by inserting an extra in your posts or the RSS feed itself stating the original author and publisher of your content, including links.

If you have a blog on WordPress (self-hosted), you can use plugins like RSS Footer to add a footer to your posts in RSS similar to this.

You can also add it to your post itself, although this can seem a bit redundant for those who are actually reading your post on your website. Also, be sure to add lots of juicy internal links within your content – although they may not count for much, at least you’ll sort of be building links back to your website. If not for SEO value, then at least do it so that anyone who finds your content on another site can find their way back to yours.

What are your thoughts when it comes to content curation, republishing, and content theft? Please share in the comments!