Has this happened to you? You have an opportunity to guest blog on a prominent site. You ask if you submit the blog and it’s published, could you then repost the blog on your own website (with a link back to the original post, of course)? Or, others see your blog posts, enjoy the content and ask if they could repost on their site? In either case, you may have been told that you cannot repost on your own site or that you shouldn’t allow others to repost your blog because of something called “duplicate content.” In other words, if your post is re-published on many other sites, the other site could outrank your own post in Google and other search engines, or it could actually hurt your own site’s rankings.
As a search marketer, I am always defending the re-publishing of posts and ignoring the duplicate content issue because I’m of the opinion that more potential readers of my content and links back to my site are the important parts rather than worrying about whether or not another site will outrank my own with my content. But lately, this issue has come up so much that I decided to find out for sure if my theory was correct. So I reached out and asked one of the world’s authorities on search engine optimization, Rand Fishkin CEO of SEOmoz.com, and asked him to help sort out fact from fiction. Rand pointed out that there is no absolute answer but offered some great suggestions:
If you feel a little lost at the mention of rel: canonical tags, as many do, I’m going to break it down for you with the help of another great source—my friend and SEO guru, Tisho Richardson, Web Associate at ThomasNet.com (formerly the Thomas Register). Very simply, you put this type of html tag between the “head” tags on the blog post page of the ORIGINAL post; this way the search engines know that this is the one true original version and should rank this version above all others. This is an example of what a rel: canonical tag looks like behind the scenes of a website:
For example, with the first scenario I referred to–guest posting on another blog, the rel: canonical tag should appear on their site on the page where the blog is posted. In the second, where others are sharing your already published content, the tag should appear on your blog page (and always be sure that they link back to your original post).
If you have a wordpress blog, as I do, there is a plugin called “Canonical URL’s”. Once the plugin is installed, you will see a box under the post marked “Canonical”. In there you put the link to the post.
Thank you to Rand and Tisho for clearing this up and giving some great tips. Bottom line? It seems that having the potential for branding and backlinks to your site outweighs the potential negative of having another site outrank you for your own post. However, if it is a major concern, it seems pretty easy to install the canonical link plugin, and it won’t be an issue any longer. And, of course, it’s always best to write original content if you can.