Aggregation or Content Hijacking

Aggregation or Content Hijacking - by SocialMouths Usually when other blogs post your content is a good thing, you increase your visibility, you get some extra traffic and depending on the blog, it could even be good for your search engine ranking.

But wait! There is also a negative side to it. There is a fine line between aggregation and just hijacking content. In this posts we’ll review two different real-life scenarios based on the same piece of content and we’ll discuss the etiquette for good honest aggregation, what not to do and how if affects the source.

We’ll take one of SocialMouths posts from just a few days ago: 13 Quick Tips To Write A Successful Post, a piece that was republished by a few blogs in different ways.

First let’s look at how HolyKaw! does it, I’m sure we’re all familiar with the site but in case you didn’t know, it’s ran by Guy Kawasaki on AllTop.

The Proper Way

HolyKaw! aggregates content from SocialMouths

So let’s pay attention to a couple of items here:

  • HolyKaw! has slightly modified the headline of the post
  • They wrote their own excerpt, a short couple of paragraphs using their own words to describe or summarize the story
  • In this case, since it is a list, they have only included three items
  • They are even using their own photography
  • Proper credit to the source was included (in red), with a link
  • They have included a call to action to visit the source

Traffic

What HolyKaw! does is aggregating content, what they consider interesting. People trust them for that and this usually results in you getting traffic from a trusted source. This is not the first time a SocialMouths post gets picked up by the site and I can tell you that it always drives a nice amount of traffic, this time, an extra 1,129 visits in only 5 days I wasn’t planning on.

SocialMouths traffic source - HolyKaw!

Not all sites will offer that kind of traffic, we’re talking Guy Kawasaki here… but every month a few blogs here and there do something similar and that can bring you a couple of hundred visits. Awesome!

The Dark Side Of The Moon

Not all aggregation is created equal and while it doesn’t necessarily mean there are bad intentions behind it, it still affects the source. Let’s take a look at this other case…

Keller Williams Blog Aggregation Of SocialMouths Content

Keller Williams credit to content source

I gotta admit this example has a couple of elements that are funny or even ironic, they have emphasized the first line of the post, which reads “Writing content is not easy, no doubt about it.”, which I didn’t in the original post, you know, the one that was not easy to write…

Also, at the end of the post, in the related posts section they list a post called “Tips On Creating Content For Your Blog“. Are you kidding me?

The previous image shows the beginning and end of the post because it’s too long to show the whole thing.

Now to the serious stuff:

  • The headline is exactly the same as the original post
  • The byline says that the post is “by kwpreston” (the “kw” stands for Keller Williams)
  • There are parts in which I wrote in first person and they were left like that giving you the impression that is actually kwpreston writing it
  • They have posted the entire content of the post, which has a word count of 1,280
  • They are also using the same images without any attribution to the sources
  • At the end of the post, they give credit to SocialMouths WITHOUT A LINK and gracefully added a nice call to action that reads “Check it out”… There is nothing to check out anymore

But besides getting pissed off at someone that just hijacked your content, there are other issues you need to consider:

  • In my case, I make an effort to provide value week after week by offering free content, that means it is there for you and I hope you get to leverage from it
  • Sometimes, people that reads my content turn into clients because they like what I do. Thank you for that
  • Sometimes, people find SocialMouths on search engines because I wrote about a specific topic

So what happens now? not only we are misleading readers but we are also confusing the search engines by having duplicated content.

What To Do?

I’ll give you 3 more bullets before I go:

What Do You Think?

So what’s the point of writing a post like this? First hoping that we all learn a little more on what aggregation is and how to do it properly and second, so we understand that even if you offer free content, you should protect it.

What are your thoughts on the whole matter? Share in the comments section of this post and feel free to disagree with me if you need to.

Photo Credit: Franz Patzig

  • Awesome post… Holy Kaw picked up one of my post couple months back thru Social Media Today.. and That posted ended with about 100 RTs and a nice flow of traffic to my blog for about 3 days.. It was great..haha

    So I agree 100% with you that getting these aggregates to push your content will drive traffic and credibility to your blog.

  • Thecafegabriel

    My particular problem with aggregation is the extra step to get to the content. I get the PR Daily newsletter form Ragan communications and most of the content is aggregated and when you click on the link to read more, you are taken directly to the source. There are other sites however that post a summary on their website (like your example in Holy Kaw!) and then link to the full post from their site. This practice seems a little shady to me as they are now getting hits to their site that are not earned. There's also the problem with duplicating content. I get most of my newsletters directly from the source, from Social Mouths or Social Media Examiner for example and then I will get the Social Media Biz e-newsletter with a lot of the same content that I just read from the source. I wonder if this presents a problem for the future of content aggregators who are simply capturing website hits that weren't meant for them.

  • When I quote other posts or lay up a significant paragraph on my blog, I make damn sure to link back properly and give credit where credit is due. I feel dirty doing otherwise.

    Also, Dallas Real Estate? Really?

  • Jacque

    This is great. I just started a blog that is collaborative both in content and authorship, and I'm always walking on eggshells when referencing other people's work. Glad to have another perspective on how to di it properly!

  • Thank you Gabriel, I agree with you, while I mentioned on the post how duplicating content could affect your search engine rankings I didn't mention how annoying it can be for readers.

    Let's take Social Media Today for example, they aggregate full posts. I get the emails everyday but my use of it is entirely to discover new bloggers, so I do a quick scan and if I see something interesting I hit the source.

    I will be interesting to see how aggregation shapes up in the next couple of years.

  • I actually spoke on this subject last week at Freelance Camp Ft. Collins. My own perspective is that you offer credit and a linkback and if you have nothing to share other than someone else's blog post in its entirety, maybe you don't need a blog. I see it as a rip-off. Plagiarism. Holy Kaw gets it and is a known aggregator that recognizes the value of the original post. Other sites aren't so savvy, like your shady Keller Williams blog. And what the hell is a real estate blog doing with a blog content post? They've got more to worry about than just ripping off content. Like why they're paying a hosting bill for a crap site full of unrelated content that's not doing anything for their SEO value.

  • annejd

    Thanks for the post – timing couldn't be better because I have been wrestling with this exact point. I manage the blog for my company and recently found one website that consistently reposts our content. My initial reaction was to confront them and immediately have them take it off. But on second thought, I wondered how much more traffic and exposure I would get from this aggregate site. It would be great if more people understood the proper way to credit the source. Thank you for the post!

  • RebeccaOsberg

    Thanks so much for a well explained post. As a newbie blogger, I hope one day to be picked up, but now I know what is picked up in the right way and wrong way. Also, hopefully you have brought some shame onto those who utilize the wrong way. Or at least made them stop and think.

  • Thecafegabriel

    Redhead, you took the words out of my mouth. I even think a lot of these sites don't even have their own thought leadership to post. Imagine a site full of borrowed content, could it just be for the ad dollars? Do these aggregators even care about our field and our craft? Where do the ethics come in?

  • I've never given content hijacking a whole lot of thought in the past, but I certainly appreciate the consequences of doing it the “wrong way”.

    I do use a lot of online content as a base for my posts, but always give credit to the original source – that's what I'd like others to do for me.

    Thanks for the resources, Francisco!

    Ana Hoffman

  • Thank you Francisco for pointing me to your post, guess we both had a similar experience in this issue. You've pointed out the differences between the both and I can't agree with you more. Most well known site aggregators request permission from authors, while scrappers clearly do not. Not impressed with what the other blog has done to you either, no proper credits given is just the way of saying 'I don't care if people bothers about your work at all'. Sigh..

    Good job on the traffic spike with SMT, I had my post there once and it was great. Love HolyKaw! and what it usually did to our traffic is amazing. 🙂

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker

  • I can see your point. I have written many article that people have taken for their own.

  • This post would be even better, if I could find the photo credit to my photo http://bit.ly/9lL68a

  • Franz, I credited this person: A. Diez Guerrero at this address http://www.flickr.com/photos/21572939@N03/20905… who lists the CC specs and option to download.

    If that is a mistake I apologize, no harm intended and I'm making the correction right now.

  • Thank you Francisco. Creative Commons licenses only work when used appropriate, which was not the case by the guy who has republished it. This was definitely not your fault. +Thanks for using my photo!

  • I'm glad it was fixed and you are ok with it, I know the frustration as you can read in the post… I was just comparing the 2 Flickr pages to see if I could find something that indicates who the author is but there is nothing.

    BTW, I love your Shangai collection. Have a great day!

  • Writing comments aint easy, no doubt about it.
    ..
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    Tips on Writing Comments on Blogs!

    I never liked the idea of content aggregators. It seems like the whole setup is treading along a very fine line between stealing content/traffic and providing correct attribution to the original author. What's worse is if their site shows up above yours in Google or other search engines. Now that would really suck.

  • I can see the difference. I will try to not do this. I have a very hard time with new content. I do not have that much time to write it so, I sometimes will pay someone else to do the job for me. This works somethings but, not all the time. I guess you get what you pay for.

  • This is really sad. I have had something of the same thing happen to me. I like to write articles and publish them on ezine articles. Then I see them on other sites and I never get the credit of the link for them. I do not understand how this can keep going on. One of these days they will come up with a code that you attach and it will follow it everywhere and we will get the full credit for our work.

  • This is something that I have been thinking about recently. When it is done correctly it is a great boost to your site but done incorrectly it is just like a nice form of copyright infringement. It's frustrating when you feel like someone is taking advantage of your content and they are benefiting by getting traffic and even revenue from your hard work.

  • Gigi927

    so I have a question. I really like this particular article – it's great. This is a hot topic in the mom blogger community.

    I'm running a blog improvement challenge starting next month, and am in the midst of compiling a “suggested reading” list for people that would include articles like this: topics that I am not qualified to write on myself. If I compile said list in a blog post, with full credit and linkback to the source, is that considered OK, or not OK?

    I have no interest in taking credit for the writing. I'm just performing a service of having screened a lot of articles and hoping to save people time in finding useful information.

    Thoughts?

  • Hello Gigi, I think listing all the posts with proper credit is a good idea. Understand that this is a different scenario, they are participating and expect to have a mention/link also. Another idea is to have them write guest posts on your blog.

    I'll give you 2 examples that you could look into, FamousBloggers just did a guestpost contest, I was actually one of the judges. Here is the link: http://www.famousbloggers.net/fb-comluv-bloggin

    The other example is Gwen Bell: http://www.gwenbell.com/blog/2009/11/30/the-bes

    Hope this helps!

  • I completely agree with you. I have had it happen to me both ways. I do not know how to get only the good out of it. I am hoping that your article will help me out.

  • Pingback: The Correct Way to Post Socially Proven Content()

  • This is not the first time a SocialMouths post gets picked up by the site and I can tell you that it always drives a nice amount of traffic.

  • Gossip Cop will have even more photos soon.

  • John

    An other RSS news aggregator for today news only – http://www.todaynews.info

  • It could even be good for your search engine ranking.