Easy to use HTML posts – A helping hand or a menace in disguise?

If you’ve organized a blog tour, cover reveal, or release day part for a book or if you’ve joined one of those events, you’ve seen  them being emailed around – the HTML posts you just copy and paste into your text composer and voila, your blog tour article is ready to go! Whenever you do join a tour of any kind, organizers promise this little gem will be delivered to your inbox. The purpose of using these template posts is easy to guess – make things easy for bloggers, help them save time and make sure they include all relevant details.  On the other hand, book bloggers use them because they want to have time to promote as many books as possible. 

The intentions of both book bloggers and tour organizers are always the best. However, as we all know, good intentions sometimes pave the road to hell. In the case of HTML posts, that might be the direction we’re headed to, search engine hell!

htmlThe threat of Duplicate Content

Duplicate content, it’s a pretty self-explanatory term, it deals with the same content being posted repeatedly on websites. It can be on the same domain, as many sites have more versions of the similar content, or across multiple domains. On your own website, this can be easily solved with canonical attributes or other methods. This is deep SEO, that’s why i referred you to experts. On different domains? Well, that is harder to handle.

Why is duplicate content a bad thing, you ask? Simply put, it confuses search engine. What they do is try to gather as much quality content as they can and encountering the same content over and over again makes the search engine unable to perform properly. The robots need to determine which is the original, which to include in their indexes, which to direct authority or trust to, and so on.

The more important aspect is that people have tried to use duplicate content to manipulate search engine results and keyword rankings, so Google and others in the business tend to have a bone to pick with this practice:

However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.

More on Google’s stand on duplicate content here.

The fact that Google does not like it would not be a big problem if they didn’t take action against it. Which they do. It can mean they ignore your content, lower the rank of your website, or worse, flag the content as spam. Blogger blogs have been taken down for what Google considered to be spamming. It’s easy cause they own Blogger, but they can affect everyone.

The best case scenario of a Google retaliation is less traffic. That’s bad for both the blogger and the author promoting their book.

Tips to avoid Duplicate Content penalties

The good news is we don’t have to stop using HTML posts. There are fairly easy tweaks you can rely on to avoid any negative effects and keep your blog post from being cataloged as duplicate content.

1. Customize your headings

From the headline of the post to the subheadings, you can alter them a bit to make your content unique. I go with fresh release instead of release blitz. Instead of a general my review as a subheading, you can use your name. Alina’s review helps change the post a bit and if you have several reviewers, makes it easier to identify who’s written that particular one.

2. Customize the content

If you’re not reviewing, you can still customize the content of the HTML post you’ve received. Maybe use buttons for the buy links or for the social media links of the author. Maybe just change the order of the segments. Maybe use block quotes or just a unique style of your blog design. Some blogs even have images that they use instead of subheadings

3. Use a custom intro

Even if you are not reviewing, you can still write a two-three line intro about the author, other books you’ve enjoyed, or the genre in general.

4. Add small details or plugins through the article

After posting the book synopsis, you can write a few lines about your take on it. It might sound enticing to you or remind you of a movie or another book approaching the subject. You can also add small prompts for readers to check other releases by the author that you’ve written about or announce when you’ll be reviewing said book, if it applies.

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These little things work because the duplicate content issue is raised for large, very similar blocks of text. No one expects you not to have anything that’s similar to someone else’s content. Just check online magazines and newspapers, you’ll see they all cover the same news, but add their own unique touch. Other than keeping you safe, this also helps push your brand and your unique style which sets you apart from other bloggers.

What tour organizers can do to prevent duplicate content issues

While bloggers certainly need to customize their posts, tour organizers can also help them out. To do so, they can send different images that bloggers can choose from, send different, excerpts and distribute them evenly among tour participants, and always make sure the HTML post is not the only thing they send. A file with all book and author details for bloggers to custom build their post is always necessary.

I do hope this helps clear things and give you enough tips to make it easier to stay clear from any type of search engine wrath. Please let me know if you have ideas, questions, or just experiences to share on this matter!

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Writer, traveler, coffee and book addict, and also founder of EyesOnBooks. I've loved books all my life and now they are a huge part of my work. I have been blogging for about twelve years and have worked as a PR and marketing consultant in the IT&C field before shifting all my focus to books and authors.


One Response to “Easy to use HTML posts – A helping hand or a menace in disguise?”

  1. […] to everyone). And why I never included tour schedules in the doc and HTML kits I sent to bloggers. I keep HTML clean – no formatting other than titles, paragraphs, images, and links, and try to advise bloggers […]

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