If you were on social media yesterday you may have read some confusing news about Bloglovin stealing page views. I wasn’t going to do a post about this, as there’s already a lot of information out there, but I’ve got a few messages since tweeting about it so thought a blog post would be best.
Bloglovin, as we all know, is a popular way to read and follow blogs with over 25,000,000 people per month visiting the site. Unlike some other RSS feed readers, they state, in multiple places on their website, that they send traffic to bloggers:
Yes, all clicks that come from bloglovin.com count towards your traffic. In fact, Bloglovin has become the top traffic source for quite a few lifestyle blogs with many followers. Every time a member reads an article on Bloglovin.com or clicks on an email, it counts in your analytics and shows your ads.
Bloglovin have recently been adding new features to the platform, including the ability to publish posts and comments directly on the site and are apparently working on syncing those comments with ones on your blog.
I’ve previously talked about why I no longer use Bloglovin’ to read blogs, as I found them moving towards being a platform instead of a reader, which does seem to be what is happening now.
— Bloglovin' (@bloglovin) March 27, 2017
What was happening with Bloglovin?
We are used to clicking on a post and being taken to the actual blog to read it, with or without the Bloglovin’ frame (depending on your settings).
The conversation about duplicating content and stealing page views started as people noticed that Bloglovin now show full posts on their platform – letting users read your posts in full on their site without having to click-through and give you the page view. This new update got people worried.
This topic actually comes up every few years, in fact Tumblr previously blocked Bloglovin’ after disputes about the Bloglovin frame.
Personally, I don’t really have an issue with posts being displayed as full on their platform (more on that below). This is how most feed reader services, such as Feedly, work as it’s the most convenient to their users. I don’t have a problem with their frame, whether it’s used or not. I also don’t really have an issue with comments or their share links either.
The real problem unfortunately is worse than that…
When I visited a recent post of mine last night on Bloglovin and viewed the source code, I realised that Bloglovin are setting canonical. This means that they are using a piece of code to tell search engines where the original version of content is from.
The problem with this is that they are using their own URL as that source. Therefore telling search engines such as Google that they own the content. Since this content is also on your site and their version will be seen as the original version, the post on your blog will be a duplicate and could result in you getting penalised.
Looking further into it I also noticed that some posts on Bloglovin have the robots tag set to noindex meaning the canonical tag would be ignored. Some however have it set to index, meaning those posts will be indexed by search engines.
Why this is an issue? They are telling search engines that they are the original owner of the posts on their site and that search engines should index and rank those posts.
Strange… posts on one of my blogs on BL is set to index, but from another blog is set to noindex. Both with Bloglovin as canonical tag.
— XOmisse • Elaine (@XOmisse) March 25, 2017
What Can I do? Can’t I just delete my Bloglovin account?
No. If you have a public RSS feed, then ANY RSS feed reader can pick up your blog and display your posts. Deleting your Bloglovin account won’t change this. This is explained further on their help page.
Like I said, I don’t really have a problem with full posts being displayed as some people, including myself, prefer to catch up with blogs in one place. The issue here is marking their version of our content as the original, and in some cases ranking higher in search engine results pages than the blog itself.
Change your RSS feed settings
I recommend switching your RSS feed to summary/short instead of full. This will affect all RSS feed readers, but if you have an issue with your content being available in full via a feed reader, then this is the solution. This is not the same as displaying your posts as full or excerpt on your blog, this is your RSS feed settings. To do this:
On WordPress.org (self-hosted)
Settings > Reading > Choose Summary
On WordPress.com (free hosted)
WP Admin (
https://yourblog.wordpress.com/wp-admin/) > Settings > Reading > Choose Summary
Settings > Other > Site Feed > Allow Blog Feed > Choose Short
(You could also choose Until Jump Break if you use that feature)
Optimize > Summary Burner
Note – I’ve seen some people ask why they should *have* to do this when Bloglovin is “scraping content and infringing on copyright”. This is actually a grey area in copyright law, since you’re providing the full content in your RSS feed which you have made publicly available, ANY RSS aggregation service or feed reader can pull in that feed and you control what is on that feed! It kind of depends how they are doing it, whether they are seen as RSS reader or RSS scraper though.
Block Bloglovin from your RSS feed
Ashley, from NoseGraze, has also done a blog post on this where she explains some other methods for blocking Bloglovin’ from accessing your RSS feed. You’ll need to be self-hosted to do this.
I’m hoping that in the coming week Bloglovin’ respond to this issue, which I am hoping was a coding mistake (though a pretty silly one). I’ll continue to update this post as information comes through.