Anon Guy asks – ‘Probably a stupid question, but I was wondering about how cross-posting can affect the original site. I have a small political blog and was recently asked to cross-post some story I did on Myspace and politics. I went ahead and cut-and-pasted the story over at a wikia.com site and, much to my surprise, a day later it was picked up by The Wonkette (from the wikia site).
But then I was reading about how having the same story on different sites is looked down upon by Google. Will occasionally posting the same story elsewhere ended up hurting the rankings of the original site?’
Not a stupid question AG – it is one I’ve been asked numerous times. It’s also one that there are a number of perspectives on. Let me share mine.
Why You Should Cross Post?
I think you’ve already discovered the main positive of cross posting (or posting the same thing on two sites) – that it exposes your post/article to more potential readers which can have the flow on effects of others then linking up to it. If getting your message out and building your own reputation as a writer is your main priority then allowing your posts to be republished in this way is something you will want to consider.
This is why some authors publish books online for free and some artists allow their music or art to be freely downloaded by web users – because it’s great for their profile and puts their message in the hands of as many as possible. This has numerous flow on effects for their future work.
Why Shouldn’t You Cross Post?
You’ve also identified one of the main arguments against cross posting – the risks associated with duplicate content in search engines.
In general, search engines don’t like it when exactly the same content appears in multiple locations.
I don’t pretend to know the inner workings of how they treat such duplicated content – but would suggest that for the occasional post it doesn’t seem matter too much. However it you are going to do cross posting on a regular basis then you might want to consider the possibility of some sort of repercussions of doing so from an SEO perspective.
Google has clarified their perspective on duplicate content lately and from what I can see if your post is the original one you should be OK – however speaking from personal experience of allowing a few of my posts to get republished on other sites – one of the risks of doing so is that that site may end up outranking you for your own post.
A question to ask:
One question you might like to ask yourself when making this decisions is whether you’re trying to build up your blog’s SEO ranking or whether you are attempting to build up your own reputation and just get your content out there?
If you’re not so concerned about SEO and just want people to read your work – then some cross posting probably won’t worry you.
If you’re more interested in SEO and preserving the content that you write for the benefit of building up your own blog – then cross posting might not be for you (especially if it’s something you’re going to do on a regular basis).
A Story for illustrative purposes:
Long term ProBlogger readers will remember that this very topic was something that I grappled with when approached by WebProNews with the request that I allow them to republish some of my posts.
In the end I decided to allow them to republish some of my content because it was in the early days of my blog and I felt that it was a good branding exercise. WPN gave links back to my posts an promoted me on each one with my picture and blog names. As they had a larger audience than me and an audience on related topics to mine I felt it was a good opportunity to leverage some of their traffic.
I allowed them to republish my posts for numerous months – but after a while ended the arrangement for one main reason – they were outranking me in Google for my own work. WPN were republishing numerous posts from ProBlogger each week (with my permission) and were selecting my best pieces.
The problem was that as they were a bigger and more highly ranked site than mine (and one that Google must have been indexing more regularly than mine) they were being treated by Google as the original post and my own posts here at ProBlogger were being treated as duplicate content (and were either not appearing in the index or were being outranked by WPN).
I decided that it wasn’t in my best interests to keep going with the arrangement (I’d also grown my readership and profile by this point – partly as a result of WPN – not that they sent lots of traffic over) and though I could stand on my own two feet by then.