Online content creators have a big stake in protecting copyrights. Primarily because of the ease of distribution of RSS feeds and other subscription-based content, you can easily lose control of your creations. As pointed out by this article at SEOmoz, enforcing your right to ownership online can lead to a decrease in traffic, but what exactly does that look like?
If you experience a decrease in traffic due to fewer RSS feeds or your subscriptions falling down, there are a few ways that you may actually lose traffic. The obvious one is that you’ll have few people visiting your website by RSS feeds. But that’s not all.
Since RSS feeds include back links, and usually they are do-follow back links, you will also be decreasing your link popularity. By decreasing your link popularity you are killing your search engine optimization. Links are a very important part of the optimization equation. You always want your link popularity going up, not down. As your link popularity increases, along with the traffic you get from those links, you should see your organic search listings going up. As you move up in the organic rankings you’ll start to see more traffic. Again, that traffic often correlates into higher rankings and more traffic. See how that develops?
Another way you could be losing traffic is through word of mouth marketing. For every RSS feed that you have in distribution you are potentially reaching thousands of eyeballs. Suppose your own property’s RSS feed distribution is 100 people and suppose that 10% of are redistributing your content. That’s 110 RSS feeds in distribution. If the average traffic from your distributed content feeds is an additional 100 unique visitors to your website then that translates into 110,000 unique visitors. But what if 1% of your unique visitors share a page or send your link to two friends and those two friends each visit your website? That’s an additional 2,200 unique visitors that came from a source you can’t identify but who reached you as a result of your RSS feeds.
GateHouse executives likely didn’t consider these possibilities, but you should. You never know where your site visitors will come from. Having someone else republish your RSS feed is a compliment. There is no need to get all bent out of shape because someone “stole your content.” They’re doing you a favor. Quit whining.