I gave a very brief talk at Real Estate BarCamp today about SEO. The entire talk was about 30 minutes, which is barely time to scratch the surface, but one line garnered the wrath of a couple of the attendees.
If a you come across an awesome piece of content, grab it, tweak it and publish it on your own site. (I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something like that).
If that came across as “steal content”, that’s not what I meant. I went on to try to explain that if you can write a 500 word blog post 4 or 5 days a week, then God bless you, but I doubt most of the realtors in the room have that kind of time, motivation or writing chops. Many may have no desire to spend 2-3 hours every night writing, so I offered a very popular short cut.
The fact that most of the people in the room raised their hand when I asked who never really updates their site was depressing, but not unexpected.
If I could wave a magic wand and get every person attending to write an additional 3,500 words every week for their website I would. Original content that is thought provoking, emotional and creates action is always the first choice – just like eating healthy at every meal and flossing twice a day, yet McDonald’s and gum disease flourish.
One woman in the back who was also “anti” said as a former journalist she was morally opposed to my idea, but I won’t get off on a tangent about how often journalists steal content from other sites.
I went on to try better explain what I meant. If you just copy and paste content, it won’t help you. But if you take an article and rework it so that it is at least 20% or so different than the other article, Google will probably view it as a new document. I explained that it doesn’t mean you change the “her” to “him” and call it a day, you basically have to give it your voice. This type of editing can still take some time, so it’s not a panacea.
I didn’t bother bringing up wp-robot that automatically scrapes and reassembles other peoples work into a brand new piece of content, but with content creation becoming the backbone of most search marketing efforts , maybe I should have.
What I tried to leave the group with was:
- Get more and better links
- Write great content so that you become an authority
- Listen better in the social networks
Here’s my slides from the presentation.
Kathy Drewien says
Dang! Wish I’d known you brought fireworks! Reading the works of other bloggers sparks my creativity. Another content idea is to curate posts from other blogger; link to 5 0r 6 posts with their headline as anchor text. Write a short paragraph on why you included that post to share.
Dennis Walsh says
I disagree with your advice. As someone who has written articles for national and regional magazines, I would be very upset if someone took my article, changed 20% of it, and claimed it as their own. Now, if they quote from the article and then link to it, then I think that is OK. I am working on a book and I think the same holds true for that as well. It would be wrong for someone to change 20% of the book and then publish it as their own. Citing sources and linking to them is the right thing to do. Taking someone’s article and changing it does not make it yours. I think it is immoral to do this.
Phil Buckley says
@Dennis – I know that it’s not great advice for the people who do spend the time and do the heavy lifting, but there is very little good content on the web that doesn’t get “repurposed”. The best stuff gets rewoven thousands of times.
I wouldn’t say it’s immoral, but I would agree that on the scale of awesome to crappy, it’s sliding quickly away from awesome.
I wrote a post about a Men’s Journal article on Brett Favre (http://somercooper.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/the-tao-of-brett-favre/).
I think it’s exactly what you are getting at when you say take something and repurpose it. The article struck me, I tweaked it, I wrote about it. I also cross-linked to the author and the article. That posts is now driving traffic to my site from Men’s Journal because they have tracked backed to me.
You are dead on to encourage people to find related content and make it work for their message. Site it as best as possible and post.
Phil Buckley says
Great article, but who is Bret Favre, didn’t he used to play football back in the 1990’s?
I agree, giving a link back to the original source is a great idea especially if the source may reciprocate, or help push your article a little bit.
Oh, dear. Are we back to New England sports? Stick to SEO PBucks. 🙂
Linking back has been a great source of traffic for me.
Dennis Walsh says
Was the message you were trying to convey exactly what Somer did? I think this is what you trying to convey in your presentation. If it is, Somer’s blog in the powerpoint would be a good way to show the group exactly what you mean.
I think that the way Somer wrote her blog is exactly the point I was trying to make. It is very clear that her source was the article in Men’s Journal and in no way is she making it seem like it is her own work. Yes, she adds to it and comments on it, but in no way is she stealing it.
Sorry, Somer, for using your blog as the example, but it makes my point.
Gina Gilliam says
I attended the ReBarCamp-RDU and was in the room when Phil gave his talk. He was speaking to a group of Realtors, for the most part, who want to improve their ability to be found by buyers & sellers.
We are not journalists, we are not writers by profession, and we are not looking to earn a living by writing. We are however, looking to improve how we earn our living by writing something that will be found by a future buyer and/or seller. Who will be so motivated by what we wrote to get off the web and contact us to be their agent.
Most of us are not talented enough or if we are lucky enough, don’t have the time, to write a compelling blog daily. However, daily blogging will improve our odds of the above stated hopes and dreams coming true.
The impression I got from what Phil was saying, was Just Do It. Given the above stated limitations of most of us, he said, if you can’t do it on your own, then borrow from your competition and make it our own.
He was offering realistic advice to people who will most likely not heed it anyway. Not because it wasn’t great advice. Because, if you are not a writer to start with, writing is hard. Even if you are “borrowing” from your neighbor. Some who are like me, recognize that we are not writers. However, we prefer to always speak with our own voice, and simply use others as inspiration.
I will take away his greatest piece of advice and stop trying to write the perfect blog. Instead, I will write less words, more often!
Lisa Sullivan says
This topic has been bugging me since I read the post this morning thanks to a Tweet referencing it. My initial reaction was, I love ya, man but oh my are you wrong! THEN, I read Somer’s post (Somer…you ROCK by the way even if you do like Favre. LOL!). I realized then exactly what you were saying and thus, I concluded my initial reaction was wrong.
Bottom line…it’s about inspiration. In fact, all writing (in my humble opinion) is about inspiration. If you find a blog post, an online article (or heaven forbid an offline one), and it inspires you to create content for your blog, as long as you aren’t copying it verbatim (or as you say, Phil, changing “him” to “her” all over the place) but rather, have written an article with your own take on it referencing back to the original source (sometimes often), that’s perfectly fine. Somer did it beautifully!
As Gina says above, she’s not a writer. Truthfully, Gina, you don’t have to be. You just have to be inspired; not to mention, content can take many forms – text, images (with the right tags), even video. It’s all about content, SEO, & driving traffic in any way, shape or form; just not in that of plagiarism.
Phil…I know you weren’t going in that direction. You were going for inspiration! I hope I further inspired your readers. 🙂
Scott Hoffman says
I attended your class and thought it was awesome. I think people totally misunderstood your point and totally blew it out of proportion. It was very clear you were not encouraging stealing peoples work. One cool idea that I thought about doing was reworking all my old marketing pieces from the past 15 years into useful blog articles.
I did just that at my next open house and saved a ton of time. Thanks for taking the time to come speak to us and let me apologize for how rude some of the people treated you in the class.
Thanks for the advice.
Phil Buckley says
Thanks Scott – that’s a common content strategy, and a really good one. You spent 15 years getting that stuff just right, might as well use it.
I like when people challenge me in a presentation, keeps me on my toes 😉
I do this all the time. Grab a piece of content and “SPIN” it. It will still be unique with my own take on the subject.
I will also write a post the pay another writer to “Spin” my material. Those spun article I paid for are then used as Articles for link building!
Hardly anything in this world is original!