Over the past few days, I have been saddened to read post after post of fellow bloggers coming to the difficult decision to fully truncate their rss feeds because their blog content has been stolen using scraping software. While preventing further theft of their hard work, this measure only publishes the title and the first few hundred characters of each post in their feed. It is quite challenging to convey the content of a post with so few words and no photos, and many will lose followers who do not wish to click over to the blog to learn what the post is about.
I want to share with you a few tricks I have learned to discourage feed scraping, without completely truncating your feed. If you currently syndicate full posts in your feed, you may actually see an increase in the number of visits to your blog with these changes. This tutorial only applies to Blogger, so if you have any tips for Wordpress or TypePad, comment away! I am writing this post with new bloggers in mind and will try not to leave out any details, but if I do, please don't hesitate to ask questions.
Let's begin! You may click on any of the images below to enlarge them.
This is a screen shot of one of the posts in my feed. You will notice a few things that discourage feed scraping: a shortened feed, a prominent copyright notice with a link back to my blog, and a watermarked photo. Unlike a fully truncated feed, my feed includes a photograph and a descriptive introduction of my my project, which hopefully catches the interest of my readers and they head over to my blog to see the rest of the post.
How to Shorten a Post in Your Feed
Blogger has a nifty little setting that allows you to publish your rss feed until the jump break. A jump break is a feature that creates expandable post summaries on the main page of your blog, with posts appearing as a short introduction followed by a link to the full post. By publishing your feed until the jump break, you can control exactly how much of your post is visible in your feed.
If you are already adding jump breaks to your posts, you only need to change one setting and you are in business. Open your dashboard > Select Settings > Select Other > Select Until Jump Break on the Allow Blog Feed drop down menu > Save.
You may wish to customize the text for the link that appears before a jump break and takes the reader to the full post. The same link will also appear in your post feed. Examples of link text include Read More, Continue Reading Here, Full Post Available Here, or use another phrase you prefer. Open your dashboard > Select Layout > Select edit on the Blog Posts widget > a pop-up called Configure Blog Posts will open, type your custom text into the box next to Post page link text > Save.
Adding a jump break to a post is fairly simple. If you are using the Compose screen to write your post, click your curser where you want the break. Go to the formatting menu at the top of the screen and click on the icon that looks like a piece of paper ripped in half. The jump break will appear and looks like a grey bar with a dashed line across the top.
If you are using the HTML screen to write your post, type the following code where you want the jump break to occur: <!--more-->
Easy peasy! But to fully protect your blog content, you will have to go back to your past posts and add a jump break to each one.
How to Add a Copyright Notice to Your Feed
Open your dashboard > Select Settings > Select Other > Type your copyright text in the Post Feed Footer box > Save.
This is how my copyright notice appears in my feed:
© 2012 CRAFTIMENTS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
If you wish to style your copyright notice like mine, use the following code:
<div style="font-weight:bold; font-style:italic"><p>© YOUR COPYRIGHT YEAR(S) <a href="YOUR BLOG URL">YOUR BLOG NAME</a>. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.</p></div>
Add Watermarks to Your Photos
To make this easier, many photo editors can automatically add a watermark to your images when you save them. Check your software's help menu to find out. The appearance of your watermark is up to you. Some bloggers just add the name of their blog, others have a fancy logo or graphic. I have chosen to put a copyright notice directly on my images because I think it implies that "I mean business" when it comes to stealing them :)
The people who steal other bloggers content for their own profit are selfish and disgraceful. It's a shame that we have to take these steps to protect our blogs, and while I think my blog is too new to be scraped, I feel I am better safe than sorry. Again, ask questions if something isn't clear, and if you have more tips, please put them in the comments for all to see.