A Beginner’s Guide to Tumblr

Curious about Tumblr? Find out about creation, curation, and connection on this growing platform in this guest post from Tumblr aficionado Danielle Carey!

Tumblr 101

If you’re unfamiliar with Tumblr, it’s kind of hard to explain without comparisons to other social media. Think blogging – but short, punchy, informal, and immediate. Think Pinterest, but in a scrolling feed style. Think Twitter, without the limitations of 140 characters. And think of hashtags like you’ve never thought of them before.

The Tumblr interface has been around for seven years now, but when I jumped on the bandwagon about five years ago, it was still relatively small. I didn’t know anyone from “actual real life” who used Tumblr, and I’d stumbled onto it quite randomly. While Tumblr has grown steadily in that time, in the last couple of years in particular it seems to have gained momentum and reached a point of mainstream recognition. I was watching a sitcom the other day and someone threw out a Tumblr reference. I had coffee with a new friend recently and finally worked up the nerve to say, “Are you on Tumblr?” A few years ago I would never have dared to do this. I’d be far too certain that the answer would be, “I – I have no idea what that is.” Tumblr is now too familiar to ignore.

At its barest definition, Tumblr is a microblogging platform. But I like to think of it as a form of digitised scrapbooking. Not the Creative Memories-style scrapbooking which is about events and moments, but the Victorian-era tradition of collecting ephemera, quotes, thoughts, and ideas, and keeping them all together in a highly browsable collection. Just as a physical scrapbook can be themed or random, coordinated or haphazard, so too with a Tumblr account: it gives you the opportunity to share or curate what you like, when you like.

Tumblr

Getting Started

Getting started is simple. The minutiae of the interface has had several incarnations and is likely to have several more, but essentially the process is still the same. Here’s what’s happening in March 2014:

Heading to Tumblr.com will take you to a sign-in page with a signup button at the bottom left. Signing up will require of you an email address, password, and username. Your username will become your URL, but don’t panic – this is changeable later on. You’ll then be taken to a confirmation page to check your age and also that you’re not a robot, and then you’re done.

Tumblr Signup

Tumblr will push you to find some blogs to follow – three, to be precise – which you can do by typing a Tumblr username into the search box or adding a few of the suggested blogs (you can get started by following Tumblr usernames danielle-carey, gretlouise, kindredgrace, adornabelle, and simplemom if you like).

Find and Follow Blogs on Tumblr

Then you’ll be tasked with creating your own blog. You can tweak pretty much any aspect of this account so don’t stress if you’re not quite certain what you want to title it or what you think your avatar should be. That can all be arranged (or rearranged) later. You’ll be prompted to sign up for a link to the Tumblr app, but I skipped that since I’m already using the app (and yes, it’s handy).

Tumblr Blog

Annnnd there you are, right on your Tumblr feed. The feed is similar to a LiveJournal friends page, or a feed on feedly. All the posts of the Tumblr accounts you follow will appear there according to chronology. Yours, too, will show up in your feed. Which brings me to…

Creation

Tumblr Feed

You’ll notice at the top of the logged-in home page (which is also your Tumblr feed) that Tumblr provides six distinct posting options. I personally think this is one of Tumblr’s coolest features; the interface makes it incredibly easy to share text posts, photos, quotes, links, chat conversations, audio, and video. I won’t create a break-down of what each post draft option looks like as it’s very self-explanatory and you’ll only need to play for a little bit to work out just how it all runs. I will, however, add that the photo sharing option includes ways for you to upload your photos and configure them in fancy schmancy layouts, but it can also work with your webcam to take a shot and upload it, or – happiest of happy time wasting devices – make a gif. You’ll have a lot of fun with that. Similarly, the audio-sharing option allows you to upload your own audio files (those not in breach of copyright, of course), or share through Spotify or via an external URL.

Tumblr Create New Post

The nature of what you want to share is up to you, as is the voice with which you communicate. Tumblr varies from traditional blogging formats in that the emphasis is not on a polished piece of writing or reserved, academic-style information-sharing (although of course both are welcomed). In fact, Tumblr rides the spectrum from late-night all caps rants to Serious Business content-sharing for esteemed sources like the New Yorker or the Paris Review, and that’s what makes it so much fun. A quick summary of my feed on any one day might be: someone flailing over a new film, a thoughtful book review, a pretty photo, happy fanart, flail, flail, historical rant, pretty, pretty, and then a heartfelt anecdote about someone’s dog having to be put to sleep. There is an immediacy to Tumblr posts which adds to the fast-paced sense of movement. Content is constantly being shared and yes, Tumblr can totally become a vortex of sleep-deprivation and bleary eyes if you don’t monitor your time spent there.

Curation

Tumblr provides a unique way for users to interact with one another’s posts. At its most basic level, you can ‘like’ a post (by clicking on the little heart at the bottom right of the post). These likes get stored and you can access them any time you want by visiting the tab for liked posts in your feed sidebar. You can also reblog them, which you do by clicking on the swishy little double-arrowed thingummy next to the heart. This takes you to a reblog window which looks a lot like the ‘new post’ interface – except that the post content has already been filled by someone else. You can simply hit reblog and the post will now appear on your Tumblelog, with accreditation to the original poster. [Read more...]

6 Types of Groups for Bloggers (which one is right for you?)

A blogging group is simply a place where bloggers can reap the benefits of a multitude of counselors. Some take the form of support groups, others are focused on mentoring, while some are true mastermind groups.

Whether you meet at your local coffee shop, hang out in a Google+ community, or most of your interaction takes place on Voxer, you’ll find that great minds don’t always think alike. And in the variety of perspective you’ll find that iron sharpens iron. As you share your expertise and feedback with each other you’ll learn and grow together.

But with all sorts of groups for bloggers, how does one know what to join? Maybe you’re a hobby blogger who’s looking for support but not ready to commit to a focused mastermind group. You might be a skilled blogger with a passion for sharing your expertise with others. Or perhaps you are a professional blogger who is looking for others serious about challenging each other towards bigger and better things. Here is a run-down on the six most popular types of groups available to bloggers, with details on who they’re for (and even a few links to groups you can join).

Explore the ins and outs of 6 different types of groups for bloggers, and find out which one is right for you with @GretLouise

1. Blogging Mastermind Group

With as few as three bloggers, and as many as ten or twenty, a mastermind group is for serious bloggers who are committed to investing in each other. This is the place to go deep, not wide. Members agree to participate in discussion, contribute equally and professionally, and reassess their commitment level regularly. This group will likely share some similarities in niche or be focused on a specific area to grow together. You don’t have to be an expert if you can put your head together with others in a mastermind group. 

Who It’s For: Bloggers who are committed to investing in a serious, focused inner circle.
Read: How To Start A Mastermind Group

2. Local Writers/Critique Group

A local writers group is close in locale, though not necessarily in online niche. But their proximity in miles brings advantages of face to face gatherings that far outweigh the differences in blogging style. The group may have an informal monthly gathering to talk about blogging at the local coffee shop. Or it may take the form of a bi-monthly critique group that shares helpful input on each other’s writing. Perhaps they meet once a month and take turns sharing instruction in a specific aspect of blogging. A local writers group can be there for each other in more ways than just online.

Who It’s For: Bloggers who are able to meet together regularly in person.
Read: Finding the Blogger Next Door

3. Blogger Mentoring Group

Whether a perk offered by an eBook author or a group that is moderated by a blogger who is passionate about helping others, this group usually has a specific leader who is providing a place for people to gather. Others in the group may end up answering the questions before the mentor does, which is the advantage of this type of community–immediate group input as well as potential advice from the mentor as needed. The group’s activity and focus will likely ebb and flow as the leader’s commitment or priorities change. Count it a privilege to have a group mentor willing to invest in you whenever they can.

Who It’s For: Anyone willing to learn from a mentor.
Examples: The Bootstrap VA, Better Blogs, God’s Writer-Moms, Indie Christian Authors
Read: 3 Benefits of a Mentor and How to Get One and Do You Have a Blogging Mentor?

4. Professional Peer Group

The discussion in this group is professional in nature and focused around a specific topic in which the members all share a good amount of experience. Whether it’s a gathering food bloggers or a bunch of Genesis coders, this group likely has strict rules. Posts must be on-topic, questions probably shouldn’t be ones that can be answered on Google or have been asked before, and no promotion will be allowed. This type of group presents a unique ability to tap into the wisdom of true experts in your field.

Who It’s For: Professionals looking for input from other professionals.
Examples: Genesis WordPress, Advanced WordPress

5. Blogger to Blogger Support Group

A networking group where bloggers gather based on niche or focus often numbers several hundred bloggers. A large group of bloggers is a great place for a networking, but it’s not as well suited to focused growth and in depth discussion. The advantage of a large group is there’s always someone online ready to offer feedback, the disadvantage is that the conversation can move quickly and questions may be overlooked. Blogging support groups help newbies feel welcome and let a hobby blogger get their feet wet. A large blogger support group is the perfect place to network and meet the people with whom you will create your own mastermind group.

Who It’s For: Bloggers who are looking for networking and community without commitment.
Examples: Christian BloggersWest Coast Christian Bloggers, Christian MilSpouse Bloggers
Read: 10 Benefits of Networking with Other Bloggers

6. Promotional Group

These groups are for the purpose of exchanging likes and shares, and are promoted as a great way to get traffic or grow your blog. If they are focused enough in niche, they could be helpful in increasing your social share counts and eventually your overall numbers. The problem is that if you are required to share and share alike, you may weaken your authenticity with your audience by having to share or comment on posts you don’t genuinely like. If you’re looking for exchanged promotion, you might be better off finding a giant blogger to blogger group that offers non-mandatory share threads where you can pick and choose what you promote. Join a promotional group with careful consideration of the impact your shares will have on your audience’s trust.

Who It’s For: Bloggers looking to increase their numbers.
Example: Facebook Daily Boost

“Some of the best examples I’ve seen have been ‘peer’ mentoring experiences, where a group of bloggers band together – often around an email list or a private Facebook group – to share and learn from one another.”
-Darren Rowse in “Have You Ever Had a Blog Mentor or Coach?”

Your blogging group might look different than these. Or you might be involved in a group of each type. The important thing is to find a group where you feel welcome and can be involved, contributing to the group as well as gaining benefit from it.

What does your group look like?

Click the links to find my top resources for mastermind groups, authors, and bloggers.  (And don’t miss the awesome How They Blog podcast with the leader of my own mastermind group, Trina Holden!)

How to Organize Your Blog Archives (3 steps to sort your content)

Whether it’s the coming of a new year, the first signs of spring, or the beginning of the school year, a change in season always makes me want to do some housecleaning—on my blog, that is.

The rules of SEO are always changing, and I’m constantly learning more about content creation and optimization. So right now, I’m focusing on sorting my archives, optimizing, organizing, and sifting as I go. I want to familiarize myself with what’s actually on my blog so I can link to it as appropriate, pin it as I have opportunity, and keep it up to date as necessary.

How to Organize Your Blog Archives (3 steps to sort your content)

1. Optimizing Popular Posts for Future Traffic

Identify & Optimize Top 20 Posts

First, I looked at my top 20+ posts and pages in the past month and the past year (in Google Analytics, go to Standard Reports, Behavior, Site Content, All Pages). The posts that are continually getting traffic are the ones that I wanted to optimize first.

Optimize Older Posts to Create Evergreen Content

Some posts simply need a bit of editing to be brought up to date (I wrote “a book lover’s Christmas gift guide” in such a way that I could simply make a new graphic without the word “Christmas” and it would be ready to be updated and pinned the rest of the year). Others need an affiliate link or a call to action to be more profitable (are you sending readers to someone else’s blog instead of giving them an affiliate link or another page on your own?). And some posts just need a few SEO tweaks to bring them out of hiding (use Yoast’s SEO plugin to make sure your post can be found when people search for your topic).

2. Organizing Evergreen Posts into Themed Content Landing Pages

Organizing my blog is an ongoing challenge. Just when I have all my landing pages perfectly arranged in my menu, I decide to branch out into some other topic. As soon as I finally finish coordinating pinnable graphics, I change my blog’s colors and layout. But content landing pages should always be a work in progress. Our readers want to know that they will be up to date with the latest information and best links on the subject, from our blog and a select few other sources.

Choose Recurring Themes and Create Content Landing Pages

I write frequently about WordPress and Social Media. Those are no-brainer topics for landing pages that I will keep up to date and organized. What are your main topics? What are the series you are always referring people to but you have nothing but the link to the category, with backward-organized posts, to send them to? That’s what you need to make a content landing page for. Title it with the most SEO friendly title you can think of (a “how to” or a question are often your best bets), write a short into explaining your passion for the topic and a bit of what makes you qualified to talk about it, and include links to your best posts on the subject. As you have time, add a one or two line description of what you talk about in each post below the post title on your content landing page, to increase the likelihood they will click through to read it and to add some extra SEO power as well. (Be careful not to duplicate exact wording from your posts, in the landing page intro or description, or your SEO will go backwards instead of forwards.)

Highlight Popular Posts on a Favorites or “Start Here” Page

Every blogger has some posts that define who they are as a blogger. It doesn’t matter if those posts are evergreen, they represent the best of your blogging career. Create a “favorites”, “best of”, or “highlights” page and put those links there. Seek out the gems hidden in your archives and highlight them for all to see. Maybe you’ll create an additional “start here” page where you want to send your first-time visitors, or maybe your start here page will be your “best of” page. Think through what you want your readers to find when, and organize your pages and menus in that manner.

3. Sifting Archives for Irrelevant, Outdated Posts

I’ll never forget what a relief it was to be at my first blogging conference and hear some really “big” bloggers talk about their blog archives. One told about that time they deleted a whole year’s worth of posts. Another mentioned that they went through a made a bunch of posts private that had to do with a specific relationship or life event that they decided the rest of the world didn’t need to be able to read about any more.

Once I’ve optimized my top posts and landing pages, I plan to go through month by month (starting with the most recent months first, since they’ll be the quickest to glance through and be done with) and literally sift my blog archives. Obviously, I’ll add categories and tags where appropriate, check for broken links, etc. but my primary purpose will be deciding what is worth keeping on my blog.

I’m sure I’ll find some posts that had good information but are now very outdated; I’ll either update them or make them private and make a note in Todoist to write a new post on that topic sometime. There will be doubtless be some duplicate content I’ll need to deal with in one way or another. I’m positive I’ll find some of those Twitter-length posts where I was sharing a good quote or link; I’ll trash those and move the information to a more appropriate location (perhaps Tumblr or Evernote?). I know I’ll find some irrelevant personal posts that were more thinking out loud than anything else; I’ll make those private, so I still have a record of those milestones in my family’s life, without feeling like I’m cluttering my archives. And hopefully, I’ll find some gems tucked away that need to be highlighted on my “favorites” page. They might not be evergreen content as the blogging experts define it, but they will be filled with one heart’s examination of timeless truths, and that’s what’s really evergreen.

Tips:

Todoist Project: I knew that if I followed every rabbit trail during my blog organization process, I’d never get anywhere. So when I notice a page that needs a new image or a post that needs time-consuming optimization, I put the link in a project I’ve created in Todoist just for my blog (read more about how I use Todoist). When I have extra time, I can go there and attack the most pressing item on the list without adding pressure with deadlines or taking time out of the sorting process.

My Blog's Todoist Project

Screen Options: I use the All Posts area to sort through my posts, as it’s much easier to quickly add a tag or make a post private via Quick Edit or Bulk Edit from that view rather than visiting the front end of my blog as my readers do. To make the viewing more efficient, I used the Screen Options to display only the most pertinent information (read more about Screen Options).

Screen Options

Then, I clicked the excerpt mode button that showed me the post excerpts in addition to the other information (versus simple “list” mode). Half the time I can make a decision about the post just by seeing its excerpt, and make the changes via Quick Edit—I never have to go all the way into the post to edit it (and that’s nice for those of us with temperamental internet!).

Excerpt Mode

Temporary Archives WidgetChecklists: I wanted to see some visible progress as I made my way through my archives. First, I temporarily added an Archives widget to my sidebar that displayed the list of every month I’d ever published a post. I copied that bullet list into Microsoft Word and quickly changed the bullets to checkboxes. Now I can check off a month as soon as I’m done! I created a similar checklist for my pages, going straight to All Pages in my Dashboard, toggling Screen Options so I saw nothing but the page title, and copying those into Microsoft Word. That gave me a great overview of all my pages and helped me see what needed optimized, renamed, or replaced.

Checklists

Redirects & 404s: If you unpublish or trash many posts that people will come looking for, you might want to redirect those links to pertinent landing pages or else beef up your 404 error page. Use a plugin like Redirection to track 404 errors and create redirects if you aren’t familiar with .htaccess. Or edit your 404 page to be more personalized, and maybe even clever (be sure to include a search form prominently on the 404 page!). Genesis 404 Page makes it easy for Genesis users to edit a 404 page; other themes may require custom codingClick here for some creative 404 page ideas. [Thanks for pointing this out, Phil!]

How often do you go through your blog archives? What are your organization methods and sifting guidelines?

for the weary blogger

Dear Weary Blogger,

I see you there on the other side of the screen. You’re sitting there staring at a blinking cursor. And when no words come, you go back to checking your stats. You return to Facebook only to see that .0001% of your fan base even saw your last post. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the thought that you once considered blogging fun. It’s been ages since an idea for a blog post pulled you away from the dishes. At this point you can’t even remember why you started blogging.

You’re ready to throw in the towel. You’re tired of trying to make money through affiliate links and sponsored posts and ad networks that require you to post three times a week. You don’t want to write one more post with a disclosure or a disclaimer. There’s no other way to put it: you’re tired of blogging, and you don’t know what to do about it.

For the Weary Blogger via @GretLouise

I’ve been there. And I have friends there. If you’ve been blogging any length of time, it’s not a question of whether you’ll burn out, but when you’ll burn out. (Click to Tweet that.) Here’s what I tell my friends when I get that inevitable message: “I’m tired of my blog.”

1. Identify your “why”.

Why did you start blogging? Why are you still blogging? Why do you want to be blogging? Are you blogging to make money or are you blogging because you love blogging? Are you blogging to sell something or are you blogging to share something? Are you blogging because someone told you that you had to or are you blogging because you can’t not blog? Are you blogging like you believe your “why”?

2. Release yourself from all expectations and obligations.

Ditch the ad network that requires you to post three times a week. Unsubscribe from all the emails offering you free books in exchange for a blog post. Remove any sidebar subscription promises you’ve made about frequent posts or monthly newsletters. Make a static homepage so that site visitors won’t find a months-old post when they drop by. Do whatever you need to in order to free yourself from all the expectations of others, and the obligations you’ve put yourself under. You might have to pay for a few books that you could have gotten for free. But the peace of mind will be worth the price.

3. Give yourself permission to take a blogging break.

You don’t have to announce it to the world. But you can announce it to yourself. You’re taking a blogging break. You aren’t even going to think about blogging–unless you feel the urge to post and can’t control yourself. In fact, consider going on a blogging hiatus until you feel that urge coming back. Give your blogging muscles a rest. (And don’t you dare come back just because there’s a bundle sale or a giveaway opportunity. Come back when you want to come back, and not a moment before.)

4. Embrace the seasonal aspect of blogging.

If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, your life has probably changed since you began blogging. Maybe you used to have all sorts of time while you rocked a newborn, but now you’re homeschooling three kids. Maybe you were single and now you have a family to care for. Maybe you were at home and now you have a job. Maybe the creativity you were expressing through blogging has been replaced by another creative outlet. Blogging will look different in different seasons of your life. Just because your life keeps changing doesn’t mean your blog is the one thing that will stay constant. Embrace the fact that your blogging frequency and style will ebb and flow with the seasons, just like your other hobbies and relationships. (Click to Tweet that.)

5. Return to what you first loved about blogging.

What made you fall in love with blogging? Was it the way you could share and get feedback on your latest recipe ideas? Was it the perfect avenue for sharing funny stories about the kids? Was it the way you showcased your photography? Was it a creative writing word prompt or link-up? Look back in your archives and remember what posts you most loved writing, and try writing those kinds of posts again.

6. Escape the niche that’s boxing you in.

Is your tagline cramping your post topics? Does your blog’s name keep you from writing about half the things you want to? Have you boxed yourself in by finding a niche that no longer reflects you or only reflects part of you? If you’ve found your voice, don’t let your niche keep you from expressing it. (Click to Tweet that.) Maybe it’s time to embrace personal branding, so that you can write about whatever you want to. Maybe you simply need to change your tagline to reflect more of what you want to write about rather than just what you thought you should blog about in the past. You can’t grow if you’re stuck in a niche that doesn’t fit you.

7. Make your blog a place that you like to be.

If you adore color but your blog is black and white, you aren’t going to want to hang out on your blog. If you don’t love the way your blog looks, you won’t want to write there. If you aren’t visiting your blog just for the fun of it, then it’s not a peaceful, joyful place for you. Make your blog not just a reflection of you, but a place you enjoy visiting.

8. Hire someone else to take care of whatever you hate about blogging.

Do widgets give you a headache? Do you always forget to make updates? Do you really want a different font but don’t have a clue how to install it? Hire a virtual assistant to fix it. Barter with a friend in your mastermind group. Ask around before you pay for services. Make sure you’re hiring someone who is helpful as well as knowledgeable, professional as well as experienced. But don’t let those technical tasks you hate keep you from enjoying blogging.

9. Forget about promoting your posts on social media.

I’m serious. It’s time to forget about that Facebook page with the pitiful reach. It’s time to get off of Twitter unless you just love hanging out there. Forget about trying to promote your posts on social media. You don’t need to do it. All you need to do is have a social share plugin installed so that social media share buttons are on each post. If your readers love your posts as much as you love writing them, your readers will share your posts for you. Social media promotion paralyzes too many bloggers. Get off your Facebook page and start writing. (Click to Tweet that.)

10. Don’t check your stats.

Hide your stats widgets from your dashboard. Delete that bookmark for Google Analytics. Don’t keep obsessing over why hits were up on the day you didn’t post but down on the day you did. If you’re not blogging for numbers, then stop looking at the numbers. The stats can and will sabatoge you if you let them.

11. Be a savvy hobby blogger.

If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you know how to do many of the things the successful, professional bloggers says you “should” do. You know how to create the most pinnable image ever. You know the rules of SEO. You even know how easy it is to grab an Amazon Associate link (properly disclosed, of course). But just because you can doesn’t mean you have to: knowing how will make those things come naturally without you having to obsess over them for every post. Don’t spend 101 hours editing pictures–unless you adore PicMonkey as much as you adore taking pictures. Don’t worry about getting a green light from Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin–you know how to use keywords without having to have Yoast check up on you. Don’t base your posts upon what sells with affiliate links–use affiliate links when you happen to mention something you love that has an affiliate link available.

12. Blog when you feel like it.

Professional writers know that the key to good writing is not waiting for the muse to show up, but that the inspiration will come when you show up and start writing. But if you’re not a professional blogger, you don’t have to show up every day. (Click to Tweet that.) If blogging is a hobby you love, you can do it when you have time and feel like it, and skip it when you don’t. If you are blogging because you love blogging, you won’t be able to stay away forever. (Click to Tweet that.)

Happy blogging break, my friend. You are more than a blogger: live like it!

P.S. Remember that no one loves their job all the time.

If your blog is actively making you money, it probably feels less like a hobby and more like a job sometimes. No one loves their job every day. But if your blog is feeling so much like a job that it’s never any fun anymore, ask yourself some hard questions: Is the money you are making worth it? Is there another way you could make a similar income with the same or less investment of time? Could you implement more residual forms of monetization so that you don’t have to go to so much effort promoting the latest bundle sale or writing sponsored posts? Could you change your goal to be supporting the costs of your blogging hobby rather than trying to make extra money? (Read How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul for excellent input on monetizing your blog.)

If blogging is a job that you want to keep, be sure to set working hours and give yourself a vacation once in a while so that you can get a break and come back refreshed. Don’t let yourself get to the point where your readers can tell your blog is boring you. Live life first, blog second, and you’ll love your blog a lot more. (Click to Tweet that.)

What to Do If You’ve Already Re-Posted Duplicate Content On Your Blog

The first time you read about duplicate content, your heart sank. You’ve been duplicating your own posts on your own blog for years. What can you do now?

I’ve been there. My ministry blog was in that boat. We had an annual feature dedicated to re-posting the best of our archives! And that required a lot of clean up.

Here’s a run-down of your options if you’ve already re-posted duplicate content on your blog–or somewhere else.

What to do if you've already re-posted Duplicate Content on your blog (or somewhere else) via @GretLouise

There is more than one way to fix duplicate content:

  1. Merge: You can completely merge the content so it does not appear more than one place. It’s a cumbersome process to merge comments and redirect posts, but once done, it’s done–and you’ll know not to re-post again.
  2. Canonical Meta Tag: You can leave both posts published, but point the duplicate to the original using a canonical meta tag.
  3. Noindex, Nofollow Meta Tags: Adding noindex, nofollow meta tags to the duplicate or the original post will tell search engines not to look at it. (It’s up to search engines to honor this request.)
  4. Link, Delete, or Mark Private: At the very least, make sure the old and new posts both link to each other so they look less like scraped content to search engines. You can delete one post if it doesn’t have any comments. Or, you can simply mark the post with the least comments as private so only you can see it.

1. How to Merge Duplicate Posts

Merging posts is probably the most complete solution, but also often the most complicated.

There are two goals to keep in mind when merging duplicated content:

  1. Don’t break either of the links.
  2. Don’t lose either set of comments.

Merging Posts in WordPress.org:

  1. Decide which post you will keep and which post you will delete. If the comment/share count is similar, you can keep the original post. If there are significantly more comments on the new post, it will be easier to keep it and move the comments from the old to the new. If there are significantly more likes/shares on the new post, you might want to keep it for that sake.
  2. Use a plugin like “Tako Movable Comments” to move all the comments from the post you are planning to delete to the post you are planning to keep. (If you use Disqus, you can edit the individual comments to change the thread they belong to, or upload a thread merge file.)
  3. Delete the post without comments.
  4. Use .htaccess 301 redirect or a plugin like Redirection to redirect the URL of the post you deleted to the post with comments.

Trying to find all the duplicate posts within your WordPress blog? Check out the Find Duplicates plugin.

2. How to Canonically Link Duplicate Posts

WordPress automatically provides all sorts of canonical links to let search engines know that archive pages and shortlinks are just representing the original post permalink, rather than the permalink of the archive page. If you don’t want to merge your duplicate posts, you can simply point the new one to the old one with a canonical link so that Google knows to give the SEO rank to the original post (or vice versa). This is especially helpful if your original post is syndicated or duplicated on another site–they won’t want to give up the SEO ranking, so instead you point your post to theirs. (Read more about Canonicalization from SEO Moz.)

You can easily set a canonical link for your post or page with an SEO plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast:

Canonical with Yoast

If you have access to the header code of a specific post or page, you can put the following meta tag between the <body></body> tags:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/01/mygreatpost.html" />

3. How to Noindex, Nofollow a Duplicate Post

Asking search engines not to look at a duplicate post is one way to lessen potential duplicate content issues. Be sure to disallow indexing of only one post, not both posts!

There are a variety of WordPress plugins that allow you to tell search engines not to index a specific post. You can use WordPress SEO by Yoast’s Advanced Tab (where you can also remove the post from your sitemap, etc.):

Noindex in Yoast

You can also noindex a specific post with your robots.txt file:

WordPress SEO by Yoast allows you to edit your robots.txt file under SEO, Files. Or use WP Robots Txt to edit your robots.txt file under the Settings, Reading.
User-agent: *
Disallow: /2012/10/duplicate-post/
Disallow: /2012/10/another-duplicate-post/

(Custom robots.txt is available for Blogger.com users, but not WordPress.com users.)

If you have access to your individual post or page header content, you can use this code with <head></head>:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex, follow" />

Or request removal of a post via Google Webmaster Tools.

4. Other Options for Hiding/Linking Duplicated Posts

If you’re blogging on WordPress.com or Blogger, your options are limited:

  • Consider editing the re-post to include only a brief quote or summary of the original post. Be sure to link to the new post from the old post and vice versa.
  • You can simply make the post with the least comments private, so you still have the comments but the post is not duplicated.
  • In Blogger, if one of the posts does not have comments, you can delete it and use the custom redirects option in the settings to redirect it to the post with comments.
  • Blogger also allows you to use robots.txt to noindex, nofollow specific posts (see #3).

What methods have you used to deal with duplicate posts? 

More in this series: