Do iFrames and Share Bars Help Retain Curation Traffic?

Many content marketers contemplating curation fear that linking to third-party content will drive visitors away from their branded properties to be never seen again.  One tactic employed by some marketers is to use a share bar or iFrame which hovers over the third-party article displaying branding and a link back to the site which curated the content.  

Share bars must be used with caution. While they may help decrease attrition from a curation site, they also can annoy readers, visitors, and even search engines if they are not used with caution.  Let’s review some aspects to consider when deciding to use a share bar from marketing, reader, publisher and search engine optimization perspectives.  

What is it?

Before we go further, let’s clearly define what a share bar is.  You have likely encountered them in the past, but may not know them as a share bar.  Here are a few examples of share bars:

Common Misconceptions about Share Bars & iFrames

Some people who are unfamiliar with iFrames mistake the use of a share bar with the scraping of content.  Here’s an excerpt of a humorous Facebook conversation between some confused marketers who don’t understand what an iFrame is.  There are accusations of being “slimy”, “ripping off” content and “scraping”.

Here’s the truth about common misconceptions about Share Bars and iFrames:

Next, let’s take a deep dive into why, where and when you should consider using or not using a Share Bar.

Marketing Considerations

From a marketer’s perspective, using a share bar helps in a few ways:

While many of the advantages of using a share bar help marketers, they can inadvertently annoy readers and publishers alike if the are not implemented properly.  In the next few sections, we will talk about some things to consider when implementing a share bar from reader and publisher perspectives.

Reader Considerations

Similar to advertisements and interstitial popups that appear on sites asking you to sign up on site, share bars are a feature that most readers detest, but marketers love.  

Readers may get annoyed with share bars for any of the following reasons:

At the same time, there is one big reason why readers may appreciate the share bar:

Publisher Considerations

Next, we will take a look at what publishers, the third party in third-party content, generally think of share bars.  Basically publishers do not like share bars for almost all the exactly the same reasons that marketers like them.  Here’s why:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Considerations

Sajeet Nair of Convonix ran a comprehensive test of how different search engines treat iFramed content.  His conclusions were as follows:

How to Bust Out

If you find that your content is being wrapped in a share bar or iFrame, and don’t want this, there are two ways to bust out.

The easiest and most practical way is to simply put a small piece of JavaScript code on every page of your site.

<script>

if (top != self) { top.location.replace(self.location.href); }

</script>

This basically tells the browser that if your page is not in the address bar, then reload the page without any iFrame wrappers.  This should work 99% of the time, but it is possible to circumvent this iFrame buster.

A better fail-safe way is to use a newer HTTP header called X-Frame-Options.  This will require IT help.  Furthermore, X-Frame-Options don’t really bust you out of iFrames, they just instruct the browser not to render your page if it detects it is being iFrame’d.

Best Practices

In summary, as a marketer, here are a few best practices to follow with regards to share bars and iFrames.

As a content publisher:

As a curator, if you decide to use share bars, to make sure you don’t annoy publishers or readers, here are a few things to do:

This may seem overwhelming, and even overly technical.  If you find them daunting, and want to just get up and running with curation, without thinking twice about these best practices and considerations, get a demo of Curata.