Close
Close

A ProBlogger Dilemma – Seeking Your Opinion

I’d like to ask the opinion of you, my friends and readers about something I’ve been pondering this past few weeks.

Longer term readers will remember back in April when I asked your opinion about whether I should allow some of my posts to appear on WebProNews.

At the time I was a little torn on the idea. On one hand I could see it might help build profile, would bring some inbound links and would get some of my posts into Google News but on the downside it would lead to offsite readership and duplicate content. In the end I agreed to enter into the arrangement.

Since this time I’ve carefully watched to see what impact being a part of WebProNews has had and now am wanting to review it and would love to hear your perspective as readers of this blog and as wise bloggers yourself:

Here is some of what I can report back:

• Since April they’ve used just over 155 of my posts (you can see them listed here). In that same period I’ve posted 650 posts here at Problogger (so they’ve used about 25%).

• The posts that they’ve linked to have been a real mixture of posts including newsy short posts through to my longer, original content tips pieces. The filter out some of the less important pieces (like this one I suspect!)

• Probably my biggest concern is that the articles that appear on WebProNews almost always outrank the articles as they appear on ProBlogger. I searched for the exact titles of many of these articles on Google and in the vast majority of cases the WebProNews version (or one of their syndicated sites) came up as number 1 for the term and I came in second or third. As they usually pick up my best posts – this means my bread and butter posts are not being picked up as highly as they could on Google. The good side of this is that I’m at least getting my content ranking highly – the downside is that WebProNews are doing better from my content than I am myself – I also worry that this will make my site look like a scraper site in Google and could mean I am penalized for duplicate content.

• I’ve noticed only the occasional direct referral from the links within these articles and their signatures.

• Many of the articles that they link to appear not only on WebProNews directly – but also on a variety of other sites that they syndicate content to (for example they come up here, here and here to name just three sites).

• Articles that I write are often picked up and linked to by other bloggers but often the links point to the article at WebProNews as this is where the content is found.

• I have had one or two readers tell me that they have found my blog via articles on WPN but have little other evidence of it raising my profile. Of course I have not sought out feedback on this and it could be helping more than I know.

• My signature on all 150 articles has links back to four of my blogs. While this has brought virtually no traffic it must contribute to page ranking to some extent – although the pages they appear on are not really relevant content and have a page rank of between 0 and 3 in most cases.

So – my dilemma is whether I should continue to allow WPN to use my content as they have been or whether I should end the association.

Before I make up my decision I’d love to hear the thoughts of others both to find out if having my content on WPN has had any impact upon you as a reader (did you find my site through them? – do you read them there rather than on my feed or blog? etc) and secondly to get your wisdom on what you’d do as a blogger?

Looking forward to your thoughts.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Andy Merrett says:

    I found this site first, and was actually surprised to see your content elsewhere.

    If such large propotions of my content were being used on a site that outranked me in the SEs, I’d cut or at least reduce the content tie.

    25% sounds rather high to me – I’d maybe go for around 10% given the volume of articles you have.

    It’s debatable how much PR it gives you particularly as you rank highly in any case. If they are outranking you on your own content, either cut it or find out how to outrank them!

  2. I would leave it as it is – the way I see it is in a branding sense (both personal and for your blogs). Even if you don’t get the click thoughs to your blog your name and blog are constantly being seen by more and more people.

    It’s hard to quantify but even without that direct click back your name/blog will get into people’s mind.

    So, my personal view, would be to stick with it. It gives you a little more credbitlity … as if you need any more ;-)

  3. Thumb says:

    I think your dilemma is really a question on how you view your site from a brand perspective. Is the content the key to your success or is it you as a brand? If your content is what makes you successful than hold it close, and don’t let others aggregate it so easily. If your brand is what makes you successful, then share the content. It just promotes that the best blogger insights come from you.

    Thumb

  4. They give you links to your problogger.net website so I think this syndication is a very good business for you! The problem with out-ranking could be solved in long-term if they would use title of the item, instead of “comments to this item” thing on the link to you… something like “to post your comments go here: ‘here comes title with link to your story’”… otherwise their sites will always outrank you.

  5. Darren Rowse says:

    Interestingly even some of the bigger bloggers that have their work published on WPB (like Robert Scoble) are often outranked by WPB for their posts also. So I suspect I’ll never out rank them if that is an option.

    Thanks for the feedback so far – interested in others thoughts too.

  6. The issue I see from your post is the fact they syndicate your content out to other sites. This could easily get out of hand if you don’t keep an eye on it. They should at least pay for that privilege, it seems to me.

  7. duncan says:

    Seriously, you’re big enough now to stand on your own two feet.

    “Articles that I write are often picked up and linked to by other bloggers but often the links point to the article at WebProNews as this is where the content is found.”

    To me this equals lost traffic. Your presence now compared to when you started with them has changed. It was nice back then but now by running your posts for free they are exploiting your content for virtualy no return for you. I’ve got a similar quandry myself but perhaps not quite as big. I’d put it this way: you can get $10 per 1000 page views over at creative weblogging, you’re getting $0 for the posts at WebProNews. If you want to share them go for the money because you’ve hit the top now, they need you more than you need them….by a very long way.

  8. yuga says:

    I believe that your name will almost always outweight your problogger.net site. In that sense, to be syndicated by WPN adds more credence to you as a problogger though not very much to your blog here.

    WPN may have had other audience that could never have found you in the first place without them. I’d say leave it as it is.

  9. Martin Ralya says:

    Is there any option for them to syndicate only the first portion of your posts, with a “read more” link (that points to ProBlogger) for the rest?

    If not, my gut reaction is to cut back on what they can use, or cut it out entirely — it sounds like it might have been a good arrangement back when you started it, but it seems a bit less favorable now.

    Have you approached them with your concerns? They might want to keep you badly enough to change the terms of the arrangement to fit your needs.

  10. Cary says:

    Yep, I would definitely agree with Duncan…sounds like a relationship that has been helpful to you in the past but may no longer be important to your bottom-line, and could be eating into it. I also have my doubts as to how helpful a bunch of links from the same site are, as far as Google is concerned.

    Hmmm…lots to consider, but I don’t think I’d like the idea of my best posts being duplicated somewhere else, and drawing a higher page ranking. I put too much work into those :0

  11. Gone Away says:

    I found you through John Evans at Syntagma. Sounds to me as though your experience is a warning to all bloggers – don’t allow your stuff to be copied. Keep it and offer WebProNews the occasional original article – for a price!

  12. HART says:

    I don’t read WebProNews. Ever. Yet, I am getting lots of junk mail from them. But – I think I would agree with Martin’s view above … does it really hurt you? Just by scanning the 155 documents from the link you provided above, each all refer back to this blog and other blogs. I think if I were to read that in WebProNews and liked it, I would end up here and realize that it was duplicated anyway, and prefer to watch this blog instead. So, it probably is just like everything else i.m.o… like your CBS to your other publicity trails, podcasts, pictures in the local papers, etc etc. When I first came here – your feedburner RSS subscriber count, I believe, was struggling around the 400 count .. now it’s at 870 ..

    Being totally unsuccessful at this SEO thingy and not understanding it at all .. I still don’t see why traffic is not your bottom line, but the “glorious” page rank is.So what if they are first and you are third? Whatever gets them here, right? (click,click Kaching$)

  13. Ian Cheung says:

    Darren,
    I think from the way you worded the post you have probably made up your mind and it is probably right. I mean, it only is a real dilemma if the two choices are close and hard to choose from, whereas your post seems to show that there are lots more negative effects than positive effects from the association.

  14. Chris Sharpe says:

    I get spam from WebProNews as well. I don’t go to their site. But I like your site a lot. To me, it could dilute a little of what you are doing here. It seems like they are benefiting way more than you are from the arrangement.

  15. Ken Dyck says:

    Here’s a data point: I’ve been reading this blog for about a month. Never heard of WPN before.

  16. Dave Starr says:

    Darren, I first found your site from a link my wife sent regarding you breaking the $100K barrier. I can’t recall now exactly where it came from, but for sure it was not WPN or a related ‘site geek’ kind of site, she’s on line as much as I am but her tastes are totally different.

    However, FWIT I think that the suggestion of letting them copy just a teaser for each entry they wish to use is a much better idea than hoping that the name recognition is worth giving away so much. As i mentioned, my wife is the one who first told me about you. I saw a site this morning apparently revamping itself significantly ‘in your mould’ and I commented to her that ‘This person must be reading and heeding Darren’s advice.” What followed was along convoluted conversation regarding how could I possibly think she knew who Darren Rowse could be … until we hit on the term ‘Problogger’ and $100K. Then the light came on.

    So name recognition is indeed important, but it’s up to you to decide if it’s better to eventually be recognized as Darren or as ProBlogger .. many will never make the connection in their minds.

  17. james says:

    The only thing that a writer can truly lay claim to is the written word. From the tone of your post, if appears you’re leaning toward terminating the relationship with Web Pro News. Good. By providing them with content, you’re helping them to achieve a search ranking that’s higher than your own site (presumably because dozens or hundreds of others are also giving them high-quality material to republish, bumping their site size and hits).

    I think ending the relationship is a good thing:

    It allows you better control of your content – you’re not at the mercy of a third-party who can distribute it as they see fit.

    You earn revenue from your pages, rather than giving it to another organization.

    You’ll get more search hits (you’re not competing with a larger site who is also distributing your content).

    Ultimately, you should get more traffic.

  18. Ray says:

    In my opinion I think WPN get far more out of this relationship than you do. But I think there is something more important here……..I think your site is more successful because anyone who has read Problogger.net for any length trust you and knows that your site is reliable and of a consistently high quality. If I saw some article on WPN from someone I had not heard of and did not trust I would probably ignore most of it. Look at it this way, they get your content for free, they get a higher ranking for your content than you do, and you dont think it generates much traffic for you!……..My advice is stop giving your content to WPN, now!

  19. Steve says:

    Let me get this straight…

    Their (WPN) site is mostly about search/blogging/business online. I went to their site and their parent company/distributor’s site and it looks like they have several hundred thousand people subscribed to the newsletter and who knows how much traffic on their site.

    You are a blogger, essentially talking about things (at least sometimes) that they feel like their huge audience would be interested in and they republish your article to this audience.

    And you think that is a bad thing?

    Man o man this is OBVIOUSLY not a marketing blog. Free publicity is free publicity folks. Does it matter if their site ranks above you for some of the searches on search engines? Well, of course it doesn’t. Sure, it’d be better if it were all resulting for only your and directly to your site… but you people are suggesting that no results are better that results 1 click away from your homepage?! Unbelieveable.

    You are a blogger, I don’t know what else you do or how you make your living, but as a blogger… all you have is your name and your words my friend. If you can get someone to dessiminate your name and work to an audience beyond what you already have… for FREE?! You should latch on to that like a pit bull and cling to it like cold grim death.

    I have been marketing for many many years. I find the very notion of not letting someone draw more attention to you at no cost, effort or obligation on your part, to be bordering on the obscene.

    The Internet has a loooong way to go.

  20. Rich Miller says:

    Hi Darren,

    I think you’ve raised your profile quite a bit since April, and WPN exposure is less critical than than it once might have been. If they’re not sending you mucho traffic, I’d discontinue the relationship. There are lots of ways to get an equivalent Google boost that don’t involve off-site content.

    Rich

  21. james says:

    Quick response to Steve’s comment (#19) about marketing: I strongly disagree. Darren’s “products” are his posts. They’re what both WPN and Darren is selling to consumers, in return for advertising dollars. The few referrals Darren receives from WPN doesn’t make up for the fact that he’s helping to build loyal readership for them, not his own site. That means signifianct lost income now and in the future.

  22. Jim Kukral says:

    Your brand is bigger than theirs now. Your credibility is as well. Now is the time to stop and keep your content, unless you want to share it with me at ReveNews too :)

  23. Ray says:

    Steve, The point is – its not just about publicity and marketing – although these are very important.

    Its about maximising the revenues from Google Adsense, banner ads etc.

    People are finding Darrens articles on WPN first as they rank better in the search engines, and clicking on WPN’s ads and making WPN money. If WPN did not have these articles Darren would expect to get most of that revenue as people would be finding Darren’s articles first.

    Surely you can see that this is a cost to Darren, because people are finding Darren’s articles on WPN’s site before finding his articles on his own blogs.

    In this sort of situation you have to decide whether the revenue you lose makes up for the ‘intangible’ benefits of appearing on WPN.

    I don’t think it does !

  24. Athomemama says:

    I found you from Joel’s adsense ebook. I didn’t want to subscribe at first glance, because I wanted to make sure you had good content. So, I visited you every few days and was hooked. I subscribed via RSS and have loved it ever since.

    My take is that you may not realize just how much traffic they give you. I, for one, often will hand-type or highlight/copy/paste a link off of a site and use it later. Sometimes I will email myself the link. Or sometimes I will paste it into another tab. Now, when I do any of these things, I only copy/paste or type the domain name. That way I see the blog and not just one post on the blog. Wonder if others do that?

    So, though I didn’t come there, many may have that you don’t know about. Ever thought of doing a ‘where’d you find me’ post or survey?

  25. Darren Rowse says:

    Interesting discussion so far. Thanks for the amazing array of advice and opinion.

    Steve (#19) – I agree with you on some levels. They say any publicity is good publicity don’t they? On the other hand – if the publicity comes from another site using your best material – the material you have the potential to earn some of you income from – you have to wonder what is benefiting most from the relationship?

    Its an interesting dilemma – I can see benefits either way.

    To those who have suggested I only offer them excerpts – I doubt that will work, the agreement (which I can end at any point) is for full posts in return for links in a signature file. WPN have responded to my request to a put a link back to the individual post’s comments but I doubt they’d move to an excerpt system – it wouldn’t be in their best interests to do so.

    Still interested in others opinions – I’m out all day today but will attempt to make a decision on this tonight.

  26. Kobayashi says:

    In this way, giving your articles to them, you work for them. I think giving more than 10-20 articles is wrong.

  27. Stuart says:

    Darren – I didn’t agree with Steve #19 at all because all the benefit seems to be one way and it is not in your favour.

    And don’t believe anyone who wants to tell you that all publicity is good publicity because it isn’t. Those people are just living in la la land.

  28. K says:

    How can we possibly advise you?
    We don’t know your master plan.

    For example:

    If you are thinking of flipping the business,
    then plastering your brand everywhere is a good plan.

    If you are writing a book that will use that brand,
    then again, more publicity the better.

    However,
    if content is to be your sole source of revenue,
    then giving it away for free might not be the best return.
    You’re basically running a sampling program.
    No one samples forever.
    No one gives away large samples (25% of all production).
    No one gives away their best product for free
    and then expects the customer to hustle or “pay” for the inferior stuff.

    Just some thoughts from another marketer…

  29. Can I add to my origianl comment (#2) – Steve (#19) has some good points (although I wouldn’t state it as brutal as he does): WPN has large numbers. Do we agree on that? It doesn’t matter if Darren has more … what matters is they may have a different audience, one who does not know Darren. It gives Darren a potential new market. What I wouold do Darren is do a thorough diligence on WPN (numbers, demographics etc., – if they’re that big they should have these details avialable to you)

    #24 – very, very good point. I do that quite often, not clicking on a link yet writing it down for later use … who knows how many do that at WPN.

    #28 – This hits it on the head: it’s all up to you and what your plans are with ProBlogger – if it’s purely to make money from AdSense then you probably will do better ditching WPN and gettgin as many direct links to your posts as you can … whereas, if your eventual goal is to get a book publishing deal, the more publicty the better … major publishers love a potential author who is right on their game with publicity and comes with a ready-made buying audience.

  30. Darren — I agree with other folks who have said that if you can see measureable results, then change the relationship. What you really want is for your work to increase revenues at your sites, and not someone else’s.

    I’d consider one of two options.

    1) Continue to provide WPN with content at a less frequent basis and then give eitehr them a reprint of content that’s been out on your site for a bit or something you write solely for them.

    2) Discontinue the relationship and save your best work for your own site. End the relationship gracefully and see what, if any traffic impact you have. If it your traffic slows down or slows noticibly, then you could always return to providing them with content.

  31. Darren — If you’d like to continue the relationship, set the scope and boundaries about what can be syndicated where. You have control over what the elements of your agreement is with them. You should also consider whether you want to charge them for each post. (I’m making an assumption that you provide them for free now.) In other words, sell your syndicated content. That’s what I do with my small biz tips. I have certain flavors that are free and others that are sold for a fee. And my fee-based column still carries the same sig note with a referral to my website. It is an option you may want to consider.

  32. nortypig says:

    You’re fully entitled to pull away from these guys and really only you know if it makes you uncomfortable being associated with them. As you’re making no money out of the relationship and you perceive them to be devious and underhanded (I guess from recent posts) I really wouldn’t advise letting them do this anymore.

    On the other hand if you feel that you are getting benefit from it then continue the way you are. I think you know that already though so I offer a bit of life advice.

    If your stomach tells you that something is amiss then think about what it’s telling you and get off that plane. If, on the other hand, its due to them being talked about badly then remember that its always better to be talked about than not talked about. My blog is non-commercial though and if anyone wants to use my content I say enjoy, enjoy. I’d follow my gut instincts really. Maybe its your underlying philosophy that’s at issue so be true to your own path and not theirs.

  33. Chris Sharpe says:

    I was on the fence on this one, but after reading everybodys posts — you should cut them loose, dude. This is an awesome blog and I only forsee it getting bigger and better.

  34. JErm says:

    I don’t know how to put it nicely but from your story above I simply think it’s a new breed of rip-offs. You should cut the contract or whatever. Don’t let ANYONE mess with your stuff and get all the attention in the world for it while you stay nameless.

    They don’t even feature your profile on this page: http://www.webpronews.com/authors/darrenrowse.html that’s just screwed up!!

  35. Yaro says:

    I agree with Martin and K #28.

    We can’t answer this question because we don’t know where you plan to take problogger.

    Clearly two important variables are affected by this decision –
    1. Exposure
    2. Pageviews

    Potentially you might be getting less pageviews to your content because of search results pointing at the other site. Less pageviews for you means less ad revenue.

    However the added exposure from other sites is fantastic for your brand, your credibility, your web celebrity – all great things – things that I think in the longer term will bring in more pageviews (and groupies).

    Don’t pull the content, revel in the exposure and plan ways to leverage it. Let me tell you – it’s a lot harder to get that kind of exposure than it is to not get it.

  36. I just want to say that it is because I read one of your posts on WebProNews about 6 months ago, that I discovered ProBlogger.net. And I’ve been reading here ever since. I bet others have found you this way as well.

  37. Bonnie says:

    I haven’t read all the comments and I know nothing about SEO stuff, but my gut feeling is they should be paying you, especially if they’re syndicating your work. WPN is getting ad revenue, plus possible income on further syndication, but what do you get?

    Then there is the issue of syndication; you lose all control of your product when they syndicate it. if you pull your work from WPN, will they successfully pull it from their syndicates? Will they or the syndicates actually do it?

    Pull your articles. Channel Frau Farbissina: “Pull zem ALL!”

  38. Zeth says:

    The dilemma here is between fame vs traffic. Darren R, the blogger, in general, would get more readers and more notice, in the long term, with more syndication. However ‘problogger’ the site, may in the short term, take a traffic hit with more syndication.

    In the long run, being known as an interesting writer is more important than ‘problogger.net’ which in the long run may be disposable. While if a new technological trend takes over in ten years time, Darren R, the internet trends writer, can morph into talking about whatever that new thing is, taking with him all his hard-earned credibility among his readers.

    In a sense “content wants to be free”, while on the other hand people want to feel that they have an affiliation (however nebulous) with real people rather than feeling that they are living in anonymous world. With enough bloggers and other web writers, all content is somewhat disposable and replaceable.

    So the freeness of cultural content is mitigated by personality, the ‘human touch’, and herein lies the business opportunity. I would say let your content be syndicated by everyone, all the readers that your content picks up on the way will come home to roost eventually.

    ‘Groklaw’, one of favourite blogs (turned major resource) has an open approach to syndication (a Creative Commons License) yet PJ has carved out a niche as ‘the’ top writer on the legal issues around free/open source software, she is now a well known figure in the free software/ open-source world and Groklaw has a huge amount of incoming traffic. For many people (albeit geeky people) it is their first stop in the morning after Slashdot.

    When SCO vs IBM has long been forgotton, PJ can turn her attention to some other techno-legal issue and morph into the expert on that.

    So in conclusion, the more syndication the better. Mandatory linking to the original article is essential however and should always be an explicit requirement.

    In this case, webpronews is a very ugly website (in terms of visual aesthetics), it makes me shudder. The typical reprinting of Darren’s article takes up less than one fifth of the screen real-estate.

    Does this undermine my point? By no means, the problem here is too little syndication rather than too much. Webpronews can make the page look so hideous because it is in control of a scarce resource.

    If there were, on average, say 1000 links to 100 copies of an article, all of which linked back to the one source article; that source article would always have higher pagerank than any of the copies. After all the 100 copies are not required to link to the source article, not to the most prominent copy.

    To follow this example, at some point most of Darren’s loyal readers at webproworld (or any other copy) will follow the links back and find a nice white website with posts and comments that they have missed elsewhere. Mission accomplished.

  39. Zeth says:

    Correction: After all the 100 copies are required to link to the source article, not to the most prominent copy.

    You knew that anyway right!

  40. Don’t discount how important WebProNews can be to building an audience. Their articles are on Google News. I recently had an article on WebProNews that made some comments that Firefox fans took offense to, and I wound up with a ton of hate comments (read: exposure) as a result of it. Traffic and AdSense earnings have been way up since, and this isn’t the first time WebProNews syndication has had that effect.

  41. Brian Vuyk says:

    Although I am more than a year behind this thread, I just thought I would post still. I have recently been approched by WebProNews about syndicating articles off of my own blog, which is linked to my name.

    All the responses here have been very thought provoking; it seems to me that in Darren’s case, it was probably the best idea to drop them.

    For myself, however, I am only starting out in the blogging business, about 6 months in. I have about 100 subscribers to my blog, yet I feel that I could get more were my profile higher. My content is good, it is just buried by my lack of visibility.

    I think that WebProNews could be a valuable resource given the right context; for newer bloggers starting out, it could still provide enough exposure to be worth it. I am definately going to give it a try, and see how it goes.

    Brian