Bad idea

When is reposting content to your blog a bad idea?  Almost always.

Do these scenarios sound familiar:   When you find a great, well-written article by someone else, posting it verbatim is easier than writing your own post on the same topic…. you find inspiration for your posts in the posts of other bloggers and don’t mention where the inspiration came from … or you’ve found a poorly written blog post online and rewritten it “in your own words”…  If you’ve done any of these activities on your blog, you could be guilty of plagiarism.

According to, plagiarism is defined as:

the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work, as by not crediting the author.

Most bloggers don’t intentionally try to pass off another person’s work as their own.  However, that doesn’t mean that bloggers aren’t guilty of plagiarism.

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • intentionally claiming someone else’s work as your own
  • failing to give credit to words and/or ideas of someone else (intentionally or unintentionally)
  • failing to put direct quotations in quotation marks
  • providing false or misleading information about the source of a quotation
  • copying the sentence structure or headings of a source without giving credit (even if you change all the words)
  • failing to add your own observations and insights so that source material makes up the majority of your work (even if you give appropriate credit) (

It is the last two items in the list that can get bloggers into the most trouble; copying the structure of another person’s blog post and failing to add enough of your own insights and observations to what you write.

Combating ignorance about what constitutes plagiarism is the first step to controlling it.  The next step is to institute some guidelines that will help you avoid unintentionally committing plagiarism.

Follow these rules, based on guidelines designed for students:

  • It’s okay to be inspired by another blog, just make sure you keep good notes about where the inspiration came from so you can credit the originator.
  • When paraphrasing another person’s work, do it without looking at the original.  This will limit the temptation to copy sentence structure or headings.
  • You don’t need to cite terminology that is common knowledge, either to the general public or just within your niche or industry.. If the terminology is new, place quotes around it and cite the origin of the term.
  • Take a few minutes to research the source of material you read online.  This will allow you to quote the original source of the idea and prevent you from inadvertently quoting someone who plagiarized someone else.

The Internet makes it easy to cite resources directly from your blog post without creating a long, cumbersome Works Cited page.  Simply use the techniques outlined below:

How to cite sources in your blog:

Direct quotes.  Introduce the quote first, indicating the source, then use quotation marks for short quotes.  (According to Webster’s Dictionary…. )  For long quotes, use the blockquote feature (the ” button on the WordPress toolbar).  This will add special formatting to your quote to make it obvious to your reader that the thought is not yours (see the definition above for an example).

Paraphrases: At the end of the paragraph that contains the paraphrase, cite your source. (

Although not required, it is good practice to include a link back to the original source.  Not only does the original author receive notice you linked to their content (via what is called a TrackBack) but this also allows your readers to check out your sources.

What About Reposting Entire Articles With Credit?

While not technically plagiarism, it is never a good idea to re-post an entire article (even with appropriate credit) to your blog without permission of the author.  Most authors like to control how their material is used by others so asking permission before using another person’s content is good common courtesy.

But there is one other reason why you shouldn’t use another person’s content on your website: it could hurt your Search Engine rankings.  Google and the other Search Engines have begun to penalize websites for duplicate content.  This is an effort to improve the search experience of users by lessening the likelihood someone will see duplicate content in any search engine’s results page (SERP).  Currently, there’s not a huge penalty for a small amount of duplicate content, but that could change at any time as the algorithm used to create search results is constantly updated.

Play it safe and only post original content to your blog and cite sources for any thoughts or ideas that aren’t your own.  It took time and effort to build your reputation online, but it could take just one mistake to destroy it.

If you are struggling with creating unique content for your blog, check out the Blogging for Business Course.  It will help set you up for success growing your business by blogging by creating the content your clients need from you in order to do business with you.

I’d like to support you to grow your blog, and your business, online, so please share your comments and struggles below:

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When is Reposting Content on Your Blog a Bad Idea? — 15 Comments

  1. Lesa,
    An important reminder for us all. Your last line:”It took time and effort to build your reputation online, but it could take just one mistake to destroy it.” really hits the nail on the head.
    Here is to you for upholding the integrity!

  2. Hi Lesa,
    Boy, how true is this post. When I first started online I was rewriting articles, but soon realized that “original” content was the way to go. What we do online brands us for good or bad. Our name and reputations is far more important than google adsense revenue or an affiliate commission.

    Besides, when we write right our skills increase, and our following will too because of trust. All of us are our own originals and an original is a terrible thing to waste!


  3. Hi Lesa,

    This is very important! The only content that I’ve ever “copied” is my own and I wouldn’t want it any other way. When I first started my blog I had some articles that I had written previously on sites that I owned that I used for my blog. I usually changed it up anyway because I felt that it shouldn’t be completely duplicated even though I didn’t know about all of the technicalities of google and SEO.

    That’s a great reminder – thanks!

  4. Hi Lesa,

    I am a new blogger and sometimes have difficulty creating posts. But I have never considered copying someone else’s work and posting it as my own. That is just wrong!

    I bought a couple of PLR articles when I first started too. I posted one of them as is, and one of them I rewrote. The one that I posted as is just didn’t feel right, so I took it down.

    Thanks for sharing your tips. I didn’t know about the blockquote button in WordPress. There’s so much to learn, right?

    • Jamella,
      Since you are a new blogger, you should check out the rest of my blog. I have lots of hints and tips for those new to blogging. You are right, there is a lot to learn and it can seem overwhelming. But having a few trusted resources to help you make sense of it all can help.

      I, too, bought some PLR articles when I was first starting out. They were promoted by a respected authority in the Internet Marketing world, so I expected them to be great. If I had one word to describe them it would be – Awful! I’ve never posted one as is — they were just too bad for that. However, I have used them as inspiration for subjects to write about. In that regard, they have been somewhat helpful. But in general, I’d say such articles are a big waste of time and money. It’s much better to write in your own voice — and if it takes you a bit of time to find that voice, that is okay.

  5. Very informative post, Lesa. Ethical bloggers would never plagiarize another’s work, at least not knowingly. But ignorance is no excuse. I think every blogger should read your post and arm themselves with sufficient knowledge of what constitutes plagiarism. That said, a little common sense will go a long way in keeping one from making these mistakes.

    • Yes, common sense AND those rules you learned back in school. If you are ever tempted to “borrow” someone else’s work, ask yourself this: back in school, if my teacher knew what I was about to do, would it have earned me an A or a F?

  6. Lesa this is so important and lately becoming a real issue for me. Unfortunately I’m continuing to find my content being copied online (with no credit to me). It’s really frustrating and I wish people would think before they did it as afterall it doesn’t help with SEO.

    I hope things change and improve for the better, it’s ridiculously easy for someone to steal content and pass it off as their own.

  7. Hi Lesa,
    What a timely reminder! I’ve just realized that I may be guilty of 2 things in your list: not using quotation marks and copying sentence structure although I try to expand on the topic.
    I’ll be more careful from now on. Good thing I came across your post or I may still be doing these things, however unintentionally.
    Thanks for sharing your tips.

    • Like you, much plagiarism online is unintentional. This is why education is such an important part of combating the problem. So keep this in mind if/when you find someone else posting your content without permission — it is very likely that they simply didn’t know any better.

  8. Hi Lesa,

    Copying a person’s content is indeed unethical if you don’t give them the credit. I’ve reported websites that have taken my article without my resource box at the bottom.

    But nowadays, I give up doing that because it happens too often. I just live with it.

    I would definitely not recommend putting someone’s content on your own blog though because it does hurt your search engine rankings.

    A better way to do this is to give the original owner credit and also add your own commentary to the article.

    Thanks for the great tips!

    • Alan, please see my post What to Do When Someone Steals Your Content for tips on how to track and contact violators. You might want to consider adding a copyright notice to the bottom of every post and stop allowing any reposting of your content, even with a resource box. That would help reduce the violations. You shouldn’t give up following up simply because it “happens too often” as duplicate content is only going to become more of an issue with search engine rankings.

  9. Yeah, I agree with you. Reposting content on the blog is not a good idea it must be original and unique. Copying others content is truly unethical.

    • Most people copy without understanding what they are doing is wrong. Keep this in mind when you find someone has copied your content without permission. Educate first, before accusing them of “unethical” actions.

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