Forem Creators and Builders

Cover image for Relieving Fears Around Reposting Content from Other Websites

Relieving Fears Around Reposting Content from Other Websites

Cover Image Credits: @stefanbc

This article is meant for Forem Creators to help explain to their community members how they can go about reposting content from other websites on Forem easily without losing SEO credit.

EDIT: When I mention "reposting" here I mean copying a full post and sharing it again as it originally appears. I consider this to be different than aggregating content which often involves posting a small snippet of a post and linking to it with a "Read more" hyperlink.

SEO and the Fear of Sharing Duplicate Content

Many content creators out there are worried about reposting content they've created on one site to another site. In other words, if a person posts an article on Site A, they're often afraid of sharing this same article on Site B. But why?

The reason folks are most often nervous about re-sharing content is that they've read that posting duplicate content causes issues for their SEO. They are afraid to post content in multiple places because they don't want the SEO ranking to drop. SEO stands for search engine optimization and commonly refers to a specific site's ranking to search engine algorithms like Google. Having "bad SEO" generally means that the content in question is low ranking in search engines β€” no one wants bad SEO.

Generally folks who are reposting content are worried about:
a) their post becoming less discoverable in search engines
b) their website becoming less discoverable in search engines because the newer place that their content is published at might replace the first place that the article was published at.

Forem's Tooling Counteracts SEO Concerns

Luckily, we've built Forem with content creators in mind and allow authors the ability to easily tell search engines where a reposted article originally came from by inputting the canonical URL. So long as authors can specify a canonical URL, then they should not have to worry about getting penalized for reposting content.

How to specify a canonical URL in Forem

First off, the author will want to see which editor version they are using from /settings/customization.

If using Rich + markdown and reposting an article, the writer will need to click the gear icon at the bottom of the page next to "Save draft". They'll then see an input for "Canonical URL" where they can list the URL for the original location of the post. This will tell search engine crawlers that the post first appeared on whatever URL you set it to be.

If using Basic markdown and reposting an article, the writer will need to add canonical_url: X to the front matter of their post to specify where the post first appeared, like so:

---
title: ""
published: false
tags: 
canonical_url: https://mycoolsite.com/my-post
---
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Importing Posts from Elsewhere!

After you've explained to your users that there is tooling available to designate canonical URLs and avoid SEO issues, you also might want to point out that there is a feature for easily importing content that exists elsewhere on the web.

"Publishing from RSS" allows users to import posts from an existing website onto Forem. This feature is found in settings (/settings/extensions) and gives users the ability to input an RSS Feed URL to import any articles that are added to the RSS. So, if a user has a personal blog that they've set up RSS for, they can continue to create articles on their blog and import them onto a Forem; this way they only need to write the article in one spot, but can easily import and post it onto whatever Forem they choose.

When reposting via RSS, the user has the option to mark the RSS source as canonical URL by default. The user will definitely want to do this if they hope to keep their SEO ranking high for the original source when reposting content.

Go Forth & Repost!

Now that you know how to repost content without losing any SEO credit, we hope that you'll share this with your Forem community and encourage folks to repost any content that they wish to while using the guidance provided above.

Of course, if you have any questions about reposting content on Forem, don't hesitate to get in touch!

Discussion (19)

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ildi profile image
Ildi • Edited

Dope post @michaeltharrington ! I want to test the RSS reposting feature to see how well the post formating works when importing the content into a Forem community.

One thing im curious about is in the event that you are "aggregating" rather than reposting a full article. I think we should elaborate a bit on what we mean when we say "reposting". Are we referring to your own original article that you may have published on your own blog and now want to also post in a Forem community, or are we also talking about sharing full articles from any publication like if you wanted to share this full article even though you are not the original author from Techcrunch?

I have been sharing or what I call "aggregating" many of these type of posts on 1VIBE that fall under our News + Interviews tags. Aggregation websites like Digg do a lot of this. One example of a 1VIBE post is this one where I am grabbing a small portion of the original post text as a snippet and then adding a "Read Full Interview" link below.

Im wondering if these type of posts should be assigned canonical URLs? In my experience with the previous version of the 1VIBE website which ran on wordpress, Google didn't seem to penalize these type of posts. I was not using a canonical URL setting with wordpress. But I can't say that I am an SEO master, so I would like to gain some better knowledge about the best way to handle these type of posts. Main question would be how does Google treat posts that have canonical URLs, do they still rank well?

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington Author • Edited

Hey Ildi!

Thanks so much for this clarifying comment.

I'm talking strictly about reposting an article in full here and not about aggregation. You should only list a canonical URL link when reposting an article in full, i.e. if the article is a complete copy of another post that exists elsewhere on the web.

As for your other question: how does Google treat posts that have canonical URLs, do they still rank well?

This is kinda tough for me to get to the bottom of... SEO is a moving a target and there are whole professions dedicated to trying to figure out how to best optimize for search engines. I'd definitely recommend reading through some of the documentation Google provides here

That said, from most of what I'm reading, it sounds like only the canonical post will be viewable in search engines not the repost. So, if you repost an article on Forem and specify the canonical link as your original blog, then only the original post should show up.

EDIT: I must specify that I am not an expert in this area, and am not 100% confident about my explanation in this message. However, if your users are creating content and reposting it on your Forem and they're worried about the SEO of their original posts, I highly recommend suggesting to them to designate the canonical when reposting.

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terabytetiger profile image
Tyler

That said, from most of what I'm reading, it sounds like only the canonical post will be viewable in search engines not the repost.

I believe this is true, but it's worth noting that because of how high the "Domain Authority" of sites like DEV is, if you post on both your personal site and DEV at the same time, there can be some overlap during the first few days where Google will show DEV's link at first.

(Clarifying point: Domain Authority is roughly how trusted a site is by Google)

Because of this I've seen some creators advocate for posting on your personal site, then waiting to publish on DEV for at least a day.

Notably, this is not necessarily the case for other forems - especially not immediately after starting, but could become a problem.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington Author

Thanks so much for chiming in here, Tyler! I didn't realize that domain authority could override the canonical link, but totally trust your breakdown here. πŸ™‚

I also feel like if a person's blog (or other site that they are posting to) has a lot of red flags for Google's crawlers, then Google could potentially decide to index the reposted article over the original. But, this is really just a hunch on my part.

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terabytetiger profile image
Tyler

I'm not sure that Domain Authority is overriding, so much as potentially causing initial ranking "confusion" (this might also depend on/be caused by how often Google is expecting sitemap updates - I could be completely wrong on this though).

Might also be worth noting that even on the canonical url, the canonical meta tag is expected pointing at the page - I'm not sure if this impacts the reposts showing up, or if it is just to help Google solidify that the original article is the original article.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington Author

Gotcha!

I might be getting in a bit over my head now.

Might also be worth noting that even on the canonical url, the canonical meta tag is expected pointing at the page - I'm not sure if this impacts the reposts showing up, or if it is just to help Google solidify that the original article is the original article.

I don't exactly understand this. But I think that the way we're handling canonicals is correct right? I've pinged the Forem engineers on this so that they can speak to this topic.

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terabytetiger profile image
Tyler

The part you called out is more for the host of the original content (DEV/Forem is handling it correctly on their side πŸ‘πŸ»)

For example, if I post a blog post on my personal site, I should also be including <link data-vue-tag="ssr" rel="canonical" content="https://terabytetiger.com/lessons/articles/moving-from-vue-2-to-vue-3-composition-api/"> on my page - terabytetiger.com/lessons/articles...

I was adding this for anyone that might find this post in the future and be new to how to best use canoncial_url πŸ˜…

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington Author

Good deal! Thanks for mentioning this.

I totally understand what you mean now.

Appreciate you setting me straight here. πŸ˜€

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ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

This is really handy advice, @terabytetiger , and a really helpful explanation! Thanks so much for sharing!

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ildi profile image
Ildi

I can confirm that when 1VIBE was a wordpress website and mostly aggregating content (so not adding the Canonical URL) we were sometimes able to temporarily outrank the original source on Google search results. I would say that 1VIBE for sure had lower "domain authority" than the source, but I was however personally telling Google to crawl our pages via the Google Search Console as soon as we made the posts which was not long after the original source. But this only works temporarily and in the long run Google does seem to adjust search result rankings based on actual "domain authority" and probably other factors like who the original source of the content is.

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ildi profile image
Ildi

Thank you for breaking that down some more. It makes sense that a repost of a conical url would be omitted from search results.

I guess I’m curious about if the way I’m doing content aggregation on 1VIBE is the best way to do it in a Forem community. I’m also thinking about how these aggregated posts would affect SEO. I know that Forem was purposely made more for publishing original posts.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington Author

Totally understand! And really thanks for helping me to clarify things... it hadn't occurred to me that reposting could also mean aggregate posts, but of course it could!

I honestly don't know if the way that you're sharing aggregate content would positively or negatively affect the SEO on 1VIBE. I know that original content is supposed to be most helpful for SEO, but beyond there obviously levels of grey with how "original" content is. There's duplicate content, aggregate posts (like you describe), and posts that heavily site other sources... but I can't currently speak to how each of these types of posts affects SEO. I'm going to hunt around and see if I can find any resources out there that will help us; if I find something good, you'll be the first to know! πŸ™‚

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ildi profile image
Ildi

Thank you @michaeltharrington πŸ™Œ

Would love to hear more opinions/suggestions on content aggregation within Forem communities.

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varhal profile image
Varhal

@michaeltharrington
Found another SEO problem in Forem. Having analyzed the dev.to site, I saw that a large number of articles are not indexed at all in search engines. I opened the generated code and saw that the description tag is the same on all articles, this is bad practice. The description tag can be generated from the text of the article (as most CMS do). Please tell me, have you thought about it? Is there a chance that this will be fixed? thanks

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington Author

Hey Varhal,

Really appreciate you bringing these things to light!

I know that some articles are not indexed at all. This is talked about a bit in the post here: Changelog: When is an article indexed by a search engine? and I think this comment is particularly enlightening.

As for the description tag being the same on all articles, that does seem pretty odd. I'm going to relay your concerns to our team today and see if there's a reason we're doing this or if it's something we may be able to change and improve upon.

Thanks very much for looking into this so thoroughly and providing such helpful feedback!

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington Author • Edited

Speaking with the team, it does in fact appear that each description is uniquely generated based on the post's content. For instance, when I view the page source for my recent post here , I see the following:

description meta-tags on my post

That said, we are discussing some subtle changes we could make here. And of course, if I'm misunderstanding you, please do chime in and set me straight! πŸ™‚

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varhal profile image
Varhal

Thanks, this cleared up a lot of questions πŸ‘

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington Author

Great! Really happy to hear this explanation is helpful. πŸ™‚

If any other questions arise, don't hesitate to ask away!

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ioscasey profile image
Casey πŸ’Ž

Seriously awesome post!