Earlier today, Sharon posted an article that asks a simple, but profound question, Should you really unlink your feeds?.
The idea comes from Tim Maly who makes the compelling case that combining all of your content into one feed is disruptive to yourself, your friends and your readers. One of the major reasons is that it results in your content being duplicated all over the Web as search engines pick up both your source content and the feeds that you tell to pull from the sources (IE: Friendfeed).
However, there is another kind of RSS feed copying that is getting a great deal of attention and that’s the kind of copying that happens without permission. It’s the kind of RSS use, also known as scraping, that gives rise to spam blogs and other garbage sites, as well as other, more legitimate services.
So how do you prevent your feeds from being copied while still encouraging users to subscribe to your work and allow other legitimate works? There are many different approaches but here are four that you can take advantage of today, literally in the time it takes to read this post.
From a content creator standpoint, RSS feeds are a mixed blessing. On one hand, they allow readers to subscribe to your site and get your updates delivered to them, on the downside, since they are essentially raw versions of your content with predictable formatting, it is like handing over your content on a silver platter to those who wish to use it for more nefarious reasons.
In short, whatever you put into an RSS feed, someone can trivially extract the content and place it on another site. Since all RSS feeds are formatted the same way, there’s no need for human involvement as one script can literally parse millions of feeds. This is how spammers fill up thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of spam blogs in a few a hours.
So, if you have an RSS feed for your blog, or anywhere else for that matter, it is worth taking a moment to figure out what you can do to reduce this kind of unwanted copying or at least minimize its negative impact.
With that in mind, here are four tips to help you keep your RSS feeds safe(r).
1. Use a Feed Footer
Feed footers may not prevent others from scraping your feed, but it ensures that your content is always identified wherever it appears and links back to you. A good footer should contain a link back to your copyright information (copyright symbol, year, name, site name, etc.) and a link back to your site. Don’t put warnings in the footer as it may confuse legitimate readers who are viewing the content on Google Reader or elsewhere.
There are many different WordPress plugins that can do this, including Ozh’s Better Feed Plugin, or you can simply edit your RSS files. Blogspot has a setting for feed signature that you can use to add the HTML you want.
2. Use a Digital Fingerprint
While you are working on your feed footer, take the opportunity to add a digital fingerprint to your content.
A digital fingerprint is a short but unique series of letters and numbers that defines your content (EX: “a1b2c3d4”). Ideally, if you search Google for it, no results should come up. That way, all matches for it almost certainly pertain to you scraped copies of your work.
Once you’ve done that, set up a Google Alert for your digital fingerprint and be emailed every time scraped versions of your content appear on the Web. From there, you can easily shut down most infringing sites by contacting their host.
3. Use .htaccess
Though a bit more technical in nature, if you operate your own domain and have access to your .htaccess file, you can use it to block sites that are scraping your feed.
This only works if you are self-hosted and aren’t using a third party service, such as FeedBurner, to handle your feed subscriptions. Also, you have to use a site like Domain Tools, to determine the IP address of the server. Once you do that, you can then block it from accessing your server.
However, be careful with this one, you don’t want to accidentally block legitimate readers from accessing your feed or your site.
4. Limit What is In Your Feed
It is important to remember that anything that is not in your feed can’t be scraped by most spammers. As such, if you don’t put something in your feed, it is much safer than the content that is.
On that front, consider truncating your feed. Though partial feeds are very unpopular with readers, which is why I am loathe to recommend them, it may be a good solution for sites without a lot of RSS subscribers.
Also, you may wish to look at removing images from your RSS feed Typically, spam sites not only pick those up, but hotlink them from your server. This can create a real problem for you as you are paying the bandwidth to host content on their sites. Worse still, traditional tools, such as referrer checking, causes images to break in your RSS feed as people access it via Web-based readers.
In short, if you don’t want something scraped, don’t put it in your feed.
In the end, RSS feeds do bloggers far more good than they do harm. For every scraper or spammer, there are likely dozens, if not more, legitimate readers. It is much better to deal with the cases of infringement that do come up than it is to shut down an avenue to your content that many legitimate readers likely enjoy.
That being said, it doesn’t mean you should offer your content up on a silver platter with no strings attached. You can easily monitor/track content placed into your RSS feed and then either shut down or block those that choose to misuse your content.
While there’s no “one size fits all” solution to these issues, there is little doubt that there are tools available to you that you can use to protect your content while also giving to those who want it.
4 Ways to Become More Detached from Blogging Outcomes
See that throwback featured image of me in Phuket, Thailand?
I became a globe trotting pro blogger in part through the power of detachment.
Blogging outcomes weigh you down and slow your blogging growth, if you are not careful.
Many bloggers mean well but are so obsessed with every view, Like, comment, share and dollar that they either struggle horribly or hold back stunning blogging success. How could I write over 100 eBooks if I obsessed with sales from my first eBook? How could I write 600 posts on Blogging Tips alone if I obsessed over metrics?
Eye-popping success finds largely detached, generous bloggers.
Follow these tips to become more detached from blogging outcomes.
1: Help More Ask Less
If you want blog comments, comment on other blogs.
Want blog traffic? Promote other bloggers.
Help bloggers to detach from your needs and to see greater success. Ask less and less for shares, comments and views, to detach from outcomes. Success finds generous bloggers.
2: Mention 2-5 Successful Bloggers Via All Posts
I recall focusing heavily on blogging profits early during my career. I linked to an ad or affiliate product once per post and linked to nothing else, obsessing over sales, attaching to outcomes. I gradually promoted other bloggers over years. Now I promote 2 to 5 bloggers virtually every post. I think more of helping them and less of helping me.
3: Manage Your Energy
Attachment is fear. Managing your energy helps you:
- face fear
- feel fear
- release fear
- dissolve attachments
I do 80 minutes of deep yin yoga daily. Plus I jog or walk for 45-60 minutes daily. Meditating helps too.
Managing your energy rocks because so many bloggers cling deeply to fear-attachments, to stats and money and to clients and blogging buddies, and need a daily ritual to unearth and release these attachments. I strongly suggest deep yin yoga because it helps you become comfortable. Big time quality developed by all generous, pretty darn detached, bloggers.
4: BE with Your Fear
I vividly recall sitting and BEING with my fear each time I checked my blogging inbox. I felt a general not enough energy pervade my being. Panic then ran through my body. Anger. Pain. Grief, at time lost. All fears reflected heavy attachments to:
- list subscribers
I totally believed I should have been further along at these points during my blogging career. Turns out, I was at the perfect place and time to feel deep fears, to dissolve attachments and to proceed from a generous, genuine, pretty detached, patient and persistent space.
Fighting fear only makes attachments grow. Not checking email for weeks because you feel terrified to check email makes the fear and attachment grow. But checking email hourly because you feel terrified that you:
- will miss out on clients
- are not making enough money, and need to check and see if you are making any aka enough money, yet
reflects your attachment to you. Ya know; “How am I doing-itis.” Check stats, check email, all the time, because you fear to see how you are doing.
Feel fear behind any strategy driven by fear. Let the fear go. Dissolve the attachment.
I check email here and there, never being attached to it. Email is not the source of my blogging success.
Treat blogging outcomes like mile markers on a highway, when you whiz by at 80 MPH. Note the stat for a few seconds and either move in a different direction or charge forward, based on how you feel about the stat, and what the feeling suggests to you.
How to View the Relationship Between Your Blog and Social Media
Alonzo Pichardo says it best.
“Buy your own domain and hosting and make that your own main hub. Social media is a branch of the marketing tree. That’s all.”
He shared my video on Instagram. Video registered 3,926 views. Here it is:
I filmed the video because I spent 20 minutes clicking profile links of folks who Liked my updates. I found a few self-hosted WordPress blogs, read and commented on these blogs. Relationships established. But most Instagram users:
- had no blog to speak of
- linked to YouTube
- linked to Facebook
For the heck of it, I spent a good 3 minutes looking for one user’s blog. I found an obituary (he was young and alive but shared a common name) and a collection of spammy “look up his information sites.” He claimed to be a blogger via his Instagram bio but he is no more a blogger than I am a werewolf.
Think about Alonzo’s advice; the blog is your main hub, or root, or base of your tree, and social media acts like branches. Offshoots, nothing more.
Instagram owns Instagram. Instagram:
- can kick that kid off of Instagram for 1 of a billion reasons, in a heartbeat
- WILL change their algorithm, soon enough, forcing the kid to change his strategy, uprooting his online world
- forces the kid to make his brand, Instagram’s brand
Not investing is a domain and hosting is about the biggest mistake you can make online because not owning your site hands your power, your decision making, your branding potential and your monetizing potential to someone else.
Social media is a branch. Spend most of your time daily working on your blog and networking with other bloggers who own their self-hosted, WordPress blogs. Unless they change their values or quit blogging, this is the most sound, intelligent approach to blogging.
Use social media for a little bit daily to:
- tag bloggers you mention on your blog
- help bloggers in groups related to your niche
- share your blog posts
- share other blogger’s blog posts
You are a blogger. Not an Instagrammer. You are a blogger. Not a Facebook-er. Spend most of your day on blogs. Not social media.
Marios Tofarides runs an authority blog on eBooks. Not in a billion years could he make his social media profiles look anything like his branded, self-hosted blog. Paula at Contented Traveler runs a first class travel blog. She could never re-create her blog’s branding, style and voice on social media. Sarah Arrow built a well known brand and thriving business by making her blog stand out, through creating, through connecting and through smart blog branding. Impossible to do this, through social media alone.
Pay Up to Play Up
I can mention your blog on Blogging From Paradise, a DA 47 blog read by many influencers.
I can mention your blog on Blogging Tips, a DA 48 blog read by many blogging influencers.
But I never link to free platform blogs because no influencer or experienced reader trusts information on free platforms. If you cannot invest $3 a month, you carry too much of a fear-lack-poverty conscious energy, that seasoned readers and top bloggers know to avoid.
I never link to a social media profile because….social media is not a blog!
Pay up to play up.
Invest in a domain and hosting. Move up in blogging circles. See social media as branches, using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as secondary or even tertiary means for helping people. Spend most of your time on your self-hosted, WordPress blog and networking on other self-hosted, WordPress blogs.
1 Failure Conscious Tendency That Makes Blogging Tougher
Some bloggers cannot accept a good thing when they get it.
I have linked to tens of thousands of bloggers over my decade online. I love my friends. I take care of my friends.
99.999999% of bloggers are beyond grateful to get a backlink from an established, pro blogger like myself for many reasons:
- Blogging From Paradise has a DA of 47; that’s some backlink juice!
- Blogging Tips has an even higher DA; 48 I believe, meaning more backlink juice
- you bond more deeply with me, and forming a deeper friendship allows me to open doors for you, via guest posts, more backlink mentions, interviews, prospering partnerships
- greater blog traffic through exposure
- greater blog profits through exposure
- greater brand awareness through exposure, and also, your blog and brand aligns with Virgin, Forbes and Fox News, sites I have appeared on, creating greater trust
I could go on for 45 minutes. The list of benefits are endless. There are absolutely no downsides to being mentioned by me, on my blog or via guest post. Yet, some folks, because of their own fears, cannot accept these gifts freely and gratefully. Hey guys; I luv ya’s. This is not a rant, but a lesson in seeing good (versus fear/downside), expressing genuine gratitude and learning how to move up in blogging circles, by being fully grateful to receive the above gifts and by purging any fears or lack of gratitude you feel, when a world renowned blogger links to you.
Virtually all bloggers are grateful for receiving the above list of benefits. Donna Merrill is a blogging high roller and she responds to virtually all my tags and mentions. I would never expect her to do so because we are great friends, and she is so busy, but that is heart-filled blogging.
But a few bloggers clinging to deep fears have responded to my generous backlinks a few different ways:
- some fear the linking structure is not neat and orderly
- some fear they are not getting enough link juice via Google, and ask me to log into search console and make changes or whatever
- some fear they are not getting enough links to a specific site or permalink, and ask me to edit the post, to change the link
All above motivators are fear, and fear is not real, so if you honor these fears and react-respond in the above fashion, you judge things or make a request from an illusory, untrue, false, totally not real energy of loss, lack, limitation.
That fear has 100% to do with you, and nothing to do with me. I will keep being generous with my blogging buddies, but I seek out loving buddies, not those weighed down a bit too heavy by fear, so fear-bloggers gotta go, along with their links, going forward. Nothing personal, as I love and respect these folks. Just an energy thing.
We See the World as We See Ourselves
You see the world, you see other bloggers and you see their linking strategies as you see yourself.
If someone fears they won’t get enough traffic or clicks or Google juice through my linking strategy, that has nothing to do with the guy featured on billionaires’s blogs, and living his dream, circling the globe. That has to do 100% with you, your fear of loss, your fear of not enough, your trust issues, and other deep, fear based energies, begging to be unearthed and felt.
I am the mirror. You are the source. You are cause, and effect.
Picture break! Me during my trip to Fiji with my friend Olivia.
My dear friend Alonzo Pichardo sent me a Message months ago. He was deeply grateful I had linked to him 50 plus times on Blogging Tips alone. He is grateful! Does it surprise you that the guy runs a highly prospering business and leads a huge, loyal following?
David Boozer routinely sends me Messages sharing how grateful he is for my eBooks, courses, content and mentions, writing from the heart. More gratitude! Does it surprise you that one of his YouTube channels has registered millions of plays, alone?
Alonzo and David do not ask me to change links or put stuff into Google console or to change my linking style; they know a gift when they see it.
Vishwajeet Kumar feels incredibly grateful for each backlink I give to his helpful blogging resource, and expresses his gratitude on social media.
This is how you move higher in blogging circles, to see more success, versus moving lower, through fear-based lack of gratitude, and, losing link mentions.
Guys; see the blessing in a coveted backlink. Be grateful. See the good. Move up in the blog-0-sphere. Experience increased blogging success.
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