A guest post by Sally Cameron
I log in to the admin page of my site and there they are: the pingbacks. These are links to websites that use my content and recipes, usually without permission.
One type is from newbie bloggers who do not understand the courtesy of crediting my site. I inform them politely. Usually they are apologetic and add a link and credit.
But lately I’m getting pingbacks from the other kind: content aggregators. These are big groups, big sites, with tens to hundreds of thousand of followers. They take my content for free, for their own benefit, sometimes without notifying me and without asking for permission.
They may not take the full post. Maybe it is my photo and a list of the recipe ingredients, with links back to my site for the recipe directions. Here are my experiences with two aggregator sites, and I’m wondering whether it’s worth it:
I joined the RecipeChart.com community by invitation. It sounded good. They say that they want to help bloggers grow their traffic. And who doesn’t want to grow their traffic?
Recipe Chart calls itself “an engaging photo and recipe sharing site for foodies” and a “recipe hotspot.” It has over 200,000 likes on Facebook. I wish I did! And they got there by using my content for free, and that of many other food bloggers.
I can tell by using Google Analytics that the site has posted 31 of my recipes. I appreciate that they leave my site’s watermark in place on our photos. Do readers click on that button and go to my site? Yes, a little. Overall, those recipes have generated less than a thousand clicks for me.
Now I wonder: By driving a very small amount of traffic, do they really help me with visibility? Is being on their site mostly benefiting them? Am I diluting my content by having it on this site, or helping it?
A new aggregator, Bembu.com takes loads of content from other sites and aggregates it into groups, like booklets, by subject. They give slight credit to the content creator.
When Bembu used our photo of green juice, editors placed a small credit under the image, which was not linked to the site. Readers would link to my recipe if they clicked on the title of the paragraph describing the green juice. I have no agreement with Bembu, and I did not give them permission to use our photo. The link brought a few hundred people to my site.
There is no “about” information on the Bembu site and no contact info. The only way to contact them is to leave a comment, so I did so, asking for a link. I received a prompt reply. They informed me that they feel they do give credit and that there was no ill intent when they posted one of my photos. They said the watermark was cropped out to maintain a consistent image on Bembu.
They would take my photo off immediately if I wanted, they said, but most bloggers appreciate the visibility. That’s the standard line all of these sites use, right? I tried to get into more of a conversation, like asking where they are located. I also asked that they link my image to my site. They did not answer my questions.
I was careful to keep the tone of my email correspondence friendly. Rather than provide a link, the response was to remove the image and content. It seemed such a small thing, to ask for a link.
Based on my experience with these two aggregate sites, I will not accept invitations to new sites. I will continue to follow my pingbacks, kindly contacting the offenders if they do not give proper attribution. For now I plan to stay with Recipe Chart in the hope that I get an increase in traffic.
If you’re a food blogger, do you feel that traffic from aggregators like these two are better than nothing? If your content and images have appeared on aggregator sites, have you benefitted, or are they taking advantage?
Professional chef, health coach, speaker, educator and co-author of The Daniel Plan Cookbook, Sally Cameron publishes the popular blog A Food Centric Life. Her passion is encouraging people to get into the kitchen and cook healthy food that tastes terrific. Sally’s work has been featured online at BlogHer, Bon Appétit, Women’s Health, HuffPost Food, The Nest, and Ladies Home Journal.
* * *
You might also like: