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Protecting your Blog Content

31 August, 2011

Protect your brandIf you’re reading this article, chances are that you understand the concept of blogging, what it is and how important it is to blog on a regular basis so that visitors to your blog can see that there is new content there each time they visit.

If visitors don’t see new stuff on a regular basis, they are less likely to come back to your website/blog.

As well as adding new content on a regular basis, it’s vitally important that the content you’re adding is well-written and interesting – the sort of reading that will engage your visitors and make them want to visit again to check out every new post that you write.

Interesting content is not quite enough

However, having a great blog and making regular updates to it is not quite enough.  You also need to make sure that your blog is protected from the hazards of duplicate content.  Duplicate content is an issue that first raised its ugly head several years ago when Google began to publically penalise websites and duplicate content was one of the many factors for this.  One of the most well-known cases was reported on The BBC Online in 2006 and involved BMW.  At the time Google was coming under pressure to revive its reputation for impartiality – this resulted in Google banning sites or site authors (on a permanent or temporary basis) that “engage in tactics designed to distort their rankings”.  The practice became known as the “Google Death Penalty” – though Google has a policy of re-including sites in the search rankings once it has determined that they no longer violate its guidelines.

Matt Cutts Google BloggerThe BMW violation came to light when Matt Cutts (a blogger who’s also a Google software engineer) drew attention to what he termed BMW’s “underhand practices to ensure that searches for BMW and gebrauchtwagen (used cars) would return the carmaker’s website first”.  Mr. Cutts claimed that the firm had used the term gebrauchtewagen 42 times on its website’s front page in a bid to snare websurfers looking for used cars.  He went on to explain that this was a violation of Google’s guidelines, though it was not clear whether BMW was aware of any wrong-doing here.

Google implements rel=author mark up in search results

A recent announcement from Google on their support for “authorship markup” as a means of connecting authors with their web content, which enables websites to publicly link within their site from content to author pages.  This means that if an author for a particular publication has written several articles using this markup, the webmaster is able to connect these articles with an author page for the publication which identifies the author and can include a biography, photo, articles and other links.  A more detailed explanation of this can be found here.

Google Webmaster Blog

Google actually provides methods of displaying author information in search results that will help users discover relevant content.  There is also some advice on how to make sure that your Google+ Profile is detailed enough for Google to identify you as the author of your web content.  Some of the most useful tips are:

  • Make sure that you update your Google+ Profile with links to any other author pages on the internet (on your Google+ Profile, click Edit Profile, then the Links box on the right hand side and add the links)
  • Make sure that you use a good quality photograph of yourself for your Profile picture.
  • There is an option to add the + Profile button to your website(s) – check out these instructions
  • If you publish a website or blog as the sole author, the best way to identify author information is to add Google+ Profile link to every page:  <a rel=”author” href=””>About YOUR NAME</a>.
  • When you’ve linked from your blog to your Profile, make sure that you add your blog (or website) URL to the Links section of your Google+ Profile.

author tag for blogs example

Multiple Author Issues

If you publish a website or blog with multiple authors, then you need to make sure that the author of each individual piece of content is identified.  Google will check for a connection between the articles and an author page and a Google+ Profile.

  • A content page means any piece of content that has an author, such as a blog post, a news article, a short story, etc.
  • An author page is a page about an individual author on the same domain as the page of content.
  • A Google+ Profile is the Google version of an author page.

In order to verify authorship Google will look for:

  1. Links from the content page to the author page (if the links continue to a Google+ Profile then the Profile information will be shown in the Google search results).
  2. A path of links from your Google+ Profile to your content.

Without these reciprocal links, you could take credit for any content on the internet or anybody could attribute web content to you.

Once you’ve completed all of these tasks, you’ll need to test your profile and publication links by checking your markup using the rich snippets testing tool.  You will need to check author pages and content pages to make sure that they link to each other.

Keep it simple

If the Google instructions aren’t clear enough for you, AJ Kohn has written some great

blind five year old logo

instructions (the Three Link Monte) that you can follow on the Blind Five Year Old website.

The website is actually a blog by the experienced marketing executive who has developed a “search engine optimisation philosophy which is to treat search engines like they are blind five year olds”.  All of the instructions are easy to follow and, although they may be beyond the scope of a blind five year old, they’re certainly put into terms that the not so techie writers will find simpler to use than some of the Google instructions!

Simple Example

You can also see a simple example of the robust link circle on my own blog, where using rel=”author” and rel=”me” all posts link to my author page on my own site (I plan on allowing guest authors at some point), and from there link to my Google+ Profile and finally in turn my Google+ Profile links back to my blog.

The Benefits

By making sure that you use these methods of protecting your online content you will increase the click through rates from Google search results, particularly since Google now displays author information and photos in the results.  You will also have the peace of mind that there is no risk of “duplicate content” from a search engine optimisation point of view.  This will ensure that you and your website or blog enjoys prominent treatment in search results, raising your profile and increasing the number of visitors to your website.

I hope you found this post interesting and I implore you to implement this on your own websites to protect your blog content, and whilst doing so, get your picture shown next to your content in the search results. If you need any assistance with this please do not hesistate to Google +1 Button, Do you need any more proof that social signals are being used?

  • […] keep it simple, but if you would like some more information, there’s a more detailed post on my blog.  I highly recommend you implement “rel=author” on your own websites, and those of your […]

  • […] keep it simple, but if you would like some more information, there’s a more detailed post on my blog.  I highly recommend you implement “rel=author” on your own websites, and those of your […]

  • […] I highlighted the issue of duplicate content and how Google’s rel=author mark up could be used to protect your blog content. I followed this up in September with advice for PR agencies on how to avoid negative page rankings […]

  • […] The scenario above can, and has, happened to many businesses. I know, because I was one of them back in 2004 and we lost 40% of our turnover over an 18 month period! The reason behind the sudden loss in online revenue is due to something called the Google Penalty. Regular readers will know this is an area I specialise in, as I’ve written about it many times before, in articles about duplicate content and about Google Penalties incurred by J C Penney and BMW. […]

  • […] the news that the search engine will no longer be using the authorship data. I for one, have been a massive advocate for Google Authorship since it was launched, believing that it was one of their best steps forward to helping combat spam […]

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