Bloglovin’ Respond to Issue – Stealing your content, page views and SEO?

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.

Update: Bloglovin have responded overnight. They have fixed the canonical URL issue, saying that it was an oversight. They have changed it to the blog URL instead of their own URL. You can view the tweets here.


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.

Bloglovin showing your full post on their site

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…

Bloglovin setting their URL as original version using canonical tag

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.

Bloglovin indexing your full posts on their site

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.

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

On Blogger
Settings > Other > Site Feed > Allow Blog Feed > Choose Short
(You could also choose Until Jump Break if you use that feature)

On Feedburner
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.

Leave a Reply

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Your email will not be published or shared but you will recieve an email if your comment has a reply. Need help with a tutorial? Check out our Coding + Consultation service for one-on-one assistance.

20 comments

  1. Rachael on

    Thank you so much for writing this! It’s all very concerning. I’m very new to blogging so excuse my ignorance. I’m trying to change my settings on WordPress following your instructions but I can’t see the ‘Reading’ tab that you’ve mentioned. Don’t suppose you know how I go about sorting this? Is this maybe only available on the paid option?

    Reply
    • Elaine Malone on

      Hi Rachael. It is worrying, but hopefully it will be resolved by Bloglovin soon. My apologies, I’ve added in instructions for WordPress.com now. You’ll need to access the WP Admin Dashboard (https://yourblog.wordpress.com/wp-admin/) and then you should see the reading tab under settings on the menu on the left of the dashboard. Here’s some further instructions – Find Reading Settings on WordPress.com.

      Reply
  2. Leah on

    This is the most comprehensive post I’ve read about this issue. I already had a shortened feed in use on Blogger as I’ve recently had a lot of my content scraped, but I’ve made my Feedburner a summary feed now. Thanks for sharing! xx

    Reply
  3. Bloglovin' on

    Hi Elaine,

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. You have our deepest apologies. We just became aware of the canonical URL issue this weekend, and it has already been fixed. It of course was not our intention to appear as the original source of the content, and we’re thankful to the community for having brought it up.

    Please feel free to reach out should you have anymore questions and/or concerns ([email protected])

    Again, our deepest apologies.
    Community Team at Bloglovin’

    Reply
    • Elaine Malone on

      Thank you for your fast response and action in fixing this issue, it’s very much appreciated. As mentioned above, I had a feeling this was an unfortunate mistake, but a pretty big one for such a company to make. I really hope it was not your intention.

      Reply
  4. Lily S. on

    I’ve always had mine set to “after the jump” in my blogger settings, I learned this in a Google Help Desk forum…. sometimes that forum is actually helpful!

    Reply
  5. Bren Pace on

    Wow! I had no idea and apparently missed the buzz yesterday. Thankfully, I only use a summary in my feeds. But this is a bit disheartening, especially because Bloglovin’ is so popular. I have to pass this along as I know many who use Bloglovin’ and a full feed.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

    B

    Reply
  6. Suzi Scheler on

    Wow. I can’t believe Bloglovin had their URLs set to canonical for our posts. You’re a true blogging hero for looking into this issue for us, Elaine! I believe this might have been 100% intentional from Bloglovin, so it leaves a bitter taste. I’ve never been a fan of theirs and don’t use their platform to read blogs, but I can’t help having my blogs on it. :/

    Reply
    • Elaine Malone on

      Hi Suzi. I know it’s pretty shocking, isn’t it? I would hope that it wasn’t intentional, as they’ve said it wasn’t above, but it’s hard to believe it was an accident. You’re right, it’s a popular platform so can’t really not have your blog there.

      Reply
  7. Liz Lawson on

    Changing the RSS feed on WordPress does not work, unfortunately—this is what mine was, and full posts were displayed on the Bloglovin’ site regardless. I don’t know how it pulled them when the feed only shows the summary, but it was. So this solution (only showing summaries) doesn’t work. :/

    The only way to keep them from leeching, it seems, is to block them.

    Reply
    • Elaine Malone on

      Hi Liz, that’s strange. I’ve just had a look and seems like Bloglovin is showing your posts as summary only since October 2016, did you make any changes around that time? As the changes to RSS feeds only affect new posts on Bloglovin.

      Reply