October 13, 2016

Should you copy others' blog title and post headings?

Bloggers who want to grow fast with little effort often copy successful bloggers. Copying is not limited to images or passages but headings and titles too. 

We were asked a question on Quora recently 'Can I use the same blog post title that's been already used by someone?' When we visited the original question, we found 5 answers, 4 of them supporting the idea of copying others' titles. Two of them added caution but yes, they started with supporting it.

Why not, you might say. After all, it takes energy to make catchy titles. Sometimes you don't get great expressions even after trying for days. If you see a superb title used by somebody, why not use that? After all, just copying the title/ headline cannot be called plagiarism.

As ethical bloggers, we can't support that. Forget the moral/ ethics part, the practical cost of copying others' titles is also much more than the intended benefits.

One, you lose confidence in your capacity to write marvelous titles. You also make yourself a slave (mentally) of that person as you just can't match his level. The cost might look small, but when you lose confidence in your writing, it diminishes your creativity in many unseen ways.

Two, you might really be penalized by search engines. Copying title, in fact, should come first in the sight of search engine robots - before they catch duplicate content in the body of the post. And, today's search engines are unsparing of duplicate content.

Three. To get the full juice of the title, you must copy the body text too. Otherwise, your arguments are not likely to reflect the essence of the title. But if you do so, you get deeper into plagiarism.

Four. Not only search engines, humans might also penalize you. Some writers are very touchy about their creation being copied without permission. So, if you copy a vigilant blogger's title, he/ she would find it out sooner or later and might send you a knock-down notice or complain to your web-host who might then slap a big penalty on you.

Five. You lose respect among your readers. People who come to your blog searching for something would often be regular web surfers. If they have seen the original article or post and then discover that you have copied that article's title, you lose credibility. You lose enormously because getting credibility back is a very tough thing to happen. 
So, blogger friends, be original. Hold your head high. Even in blog title and post headings.

ITB's detailed resources on copyright, disclosure, etc:
What to do if others steal your content
Disclose, disclaim, attribute when using others' content