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When Can You Use Other People’s Content on Your Blog?

When Can You Use Other People’s Content on Your Blog?

By | 01.08.16
When Can You Use Other People’s Content on Your Blog?

use-other-peoples-contentI recently had a friendly email exchange with a small business owner who had published one of our blog posts on his blog. I contacted him because he reprinted the entire post verbatim and had not asked permission to do so.

He explained that his social media team (a couple of college students) is responsible for the content on his business blog, and he would ask them to take down the post. But he had some questions for me. They included a link to our original blog post and cited us as the “source” for the article, and he thought that was the proper thing to do. Was that not the case?

He was under the impression that sharing content on Facebook and Twitter and other social media was a good thing, and wondered how that differed from reprinting someone’s blog post yet giving them credit for it.

Realizing that this business owner is not alone in his confusion, I thought it would be a good idea to help clarify the right way to share, borrow, quote or otherwise use people’s content on your own blog or website.

Blog or articleBlog Posts/Articles

Want to recap or discuss a blog post or article you’ve found online? Feel free to do that as long as you are not quoting lengthy passages verbatim. Perhaps you’ve found several blog posts on the same topic, and you want to compare/contrast them in a blog post of your own. Always quote your source(s) and give a link to the original publisher of the content you’re referencing.

The only correct way to reprint an entire blog post or article that someone else has published is to contact the author and get permission to do so. And then note the fact that the article is being reprinted with permission from the author. Linking to their original piece is appropriate. And keep in mind, there is no SEO benefit to publishing content that has been published elsewhere. The search engines are pretty good at sussing out the original publish date, author and location and you won’t get any boost from republishing.


Social SharingSocial Sharing

This is encouraged! If you find articles, graphics, photos, videos or any other content online that you think is worthy of sharing with your friends, fans and followers, go for it! Share a link to the content. You can include a photo or graphic from the content along with the link. You can also pull a quote, or the introductory sentence and include that with your link. Just make sure you’re not copying their entire content and posting it on your page. The operative phrase here is share a link.


Photos and VideosVideos and Photos

Some social media sites that businesses use (YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram come to mind) are all about sharing videos and photos from other people. The burden is on you to determine who the actual owner/creator is of this content and whether or not their work is licensed and restricted or royalty-free and available to use. Before you snag a photo or video online to post on your blog or website or social media page, hunt down the original source and find out if it’s royalty free (which does NOT mean free of cost) or copyright free (which also does not mean free of cost), Creative Commons, or restricted in any way. Be aware that owners of media are actively pursuing violations of their copyrights and collecting fees from violators. It may seem like a hassle to track down a great photo or video that you can use on your site, but it’s worth it.



Different creators of infographics provide different guidelines for sharing their work. Some give you the code that you can copy and paste onto your blog or website so their infographic can be published on your site, but it links to theirs. Others just say that sharing is encouraged, and leave it up to you to figure out how.

Always make sure you give proper attribution (and a link) to the original creator/publisher. This requires a little detective work on your part. If you find an infographic in search results or on someone’s blog, chances are good that they aren’t the original creator or publisher. You need to hunt down that original source to make sure you’re not publishing a 5-year-old graphic that is no longer relevant, and to make sure you follow the copyright holder’s instructions on how to share their work. If you can’t find the original creator, or there is no mention at all about how to share the infographic, find a different one to use.

The best content to publish on your blog or website is content that you create yourself. Whether it’s blog posts or photos or videos, you’ll get the most benefit out of original content. Your audience wants to hear from you, and this is your opportunity to show them why they should do business with you. Write for your readers and not for the search engines. Your readers will appreciate it and, as a bonus, the search engines will love it.

This article was originally published on August 5, 2015.

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