For those who don’t know, “content syndication” is the act of publishing a piece of writing multiple times in multiple locations. Keep in mind, however, that good content syndication does not mean copying and pasting the same article for use over and over again without any attribution or precautions. Google recognizes the latter as duplicate content and will happily ding your site for this.
Instead, syndicating your own work is essentially the same as creating re-runs of your greatest hits and, for writers who publish a lot of blog posts or articles, it can be a great way to get the most bang for your metaphorical buck. Additionally, good syndication practices have the potential to earn you more shares and afford your content a much wider reach. When syndication is done well, it allows a variety of online sources to find and feature your original work, which is a win-win for everyone involved.
“But how,” you might ask, “do I syndicate correctly?”
While there are many myths about syndicated content flying around, making sure that you are syndicating correctly is an important piece of the syndication process because, as we mentioned earlier, duplicate content is a big no-no in the world of SEO. Let’s find out more about this.
What is Content Syndication?
As we’ve established, content syndication is when a publisher or writer re-purposes an already-published piece of writing for use on a different platform. It’s a tricky business though, because Google hates duplicate content (as it has made explicitly clear with its recent updates) and will happily ding sites that copy a blog from one platform to another.
The reason Google is so tough on duplicate content is easy to understand: the Internet is an information-delivering machine and nobody wants to encounter the same post on every site they visit. Duplicate content doesn’t benefit readers nearly as much as high-quality, original content and, when Google users enter search queries, they expect to see a few million similar but different results pop up, which is impossible in a world of copy-and-paste content.
Syndicating content without ticking off Google is a difficult ball game and it is important that writers and publishers take it very seriously.
5 Ways to Syndicate Content Safely
Although it’s not fair to say that content syndication is so risky and ill-advised that it shouldn’t be attempted at all, it is fair to say that it should be undertaken cautiously and with a broad knowledge of how to syndicate safely. These tactics will keep you in Google’s good graces while also allowing you to reap the benefits of re-purposed content:
1. Write a Recap
One of the easiest ways to syndicate content correctly is to write a recap. Start a blog post by introducing the post you’ve already written as well as the platform on which it was published. Add a few more words, a nice image, a compelling call-to action, a link to the piece and you’re done.
This form of syndication is great because it’s simple, amazingly time-efficient, and easy to do. Additionally, linking to the site that features your blog has the potential to boost your SEO ranking and also provides your readers with the opportunity to visit a blog they’re unfamiliar with, thus expanding their horizons as well.
2. Add A rel-canonical Tag
If you’re syndicating your own content to a different portal, consider adding a useful little rel-canonical tag to the page that will feature your new article. Keep in mind that the tag in question should always point back to your site’s original article.
By doing this, you give Google a way to interpret your syndicated content correctly and help search engines realize that the article is a copy and that you are its original publisher. This prevents you from slipping into the dark world of duplicate content and saves your site from costly SEO dings by the Google Gods. Additionally, all of the subsequent links to your syndicated copy will point back to your original copy, which is good for your site and your visibility.
3. Opt for NoIndex
If the rel-canonical tag isn’t up your alley, try the No-Index option. When you syndicate your own content, simply insert a No-Index tag in the article copy. Doing this tells Google that it needs to exclude the syndicated copy from its index but allows linking between the two articles. Keep in mind that this is not the same process as No-Follow, which is an entirely different practice among bloggers.
4. Ensure Balance
Once your content marketing strategy begins to tip heavily toward all syndicated content, all the time, you’re in trouble. When Google’s Panda 4.0 was introduced, many sites that favor syndicated content saw a 60% decrease in their organic traffic. That said, it’s wise to ensure that if you are using syndicated content, you’re balancing it well with high-quality, original content.
Opt for a 60/40 split, with 60% of your content being original pieces that are updated often. Ensure you’re utilizing proper linking techniques and that your content is garnering good shares. This, combined with other preventative syndication measures, should be enough to keep you in Google’s good graces.
5. Beef Up Syndicated Pieces
One of the worst things you can do in pursuit of syndication is copy and paste third-party pieces without adding value to the content. Generally, good writers know that constructing a blog built entirely around third-party pieces that are taken from other sources is a dangerous game. There is, however, a way to do it correctly.
By utilizing third party pieces to quote from or to draw fragments from, writers can build authority and synthesize new content. To do this, ensure that the pieces you choose to syndicate were published by a high-quality site and that they are written with flow and comprehension in mind. Additionally, be sure that you are adding some quality to syndicated third-party pieces. Insert your own commentary or pull pieces of the third-party article to beef up your own content, but whatever you do, do not pull third party pieces from around the web, slap them on your site and call it a blog.
Good Syndication: Ask Yourself The Where, When and Why Questions
With all of those warnings in place, the fact remains that syndication can actually be great for bloggers, providing it’s done properly. According to Google, duplicate content is “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”
It’s important to note, however, that Google goes on to say that most duplicate content isn’t trying to be sneaky and can be attributed to news publications, product descriptions or discussion forums. That being said, Google doesn’t love syndicated content and it urges writers to be careful when they choose to do it.
In order to avoid getting dinged, it’s important to ensure that any website that features syndicated content offers a hyperlink to the website that features the original article. Additionally, it is generally wise to use No-Index tags on sites that syndicate content in order to avoid appearing as duplicate content.
We’re going for quality over quantity here and it’s always wise to avoid slapping syndicated content all over the Internet. Instead, focus on correctly syndicating content on a small number platforms and then promoting it well. This will garner you all the benefits of content syndication without the high probability of running into associated risks.
Again, it’s unwise to rely entirely upon syndicated content and you don’t want to syndicate every piece of content you write. That said, it’s important to choose which content to syndicate wisely. A great general rule is to syndicate only those pieces which are of most interest to your audience. Don’t syndicate something that is off-beat or somewhat inconsequential. When it comes time to re-use your own content, it’s wise to pick the very best stuff you write.
Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that, while you are syndicating your highest-quality articles, you’re also not syndicating some of your highest quality articles. Maintaining well-written, high-quality content that is unique to your site will boost your site’s rankings and help you build your reputation of authority, not to mention the positive force it exerts on reader interest. A good deal of when you choose to syndicate content will also depend on your status as a blogger. High-profile bloggers might be a bit pickier about their syndication opportunities than bloggers who are just getting started.
Letting a third-party website feature your content is one of the best ways to build authority in your domain. Although it sounds counterintuitive, it’s true and this is why content syndication is so popular among writers. Publishers want high-quality, original content are more than willing to take what writers give them and feature it on their sites. This is a win-win for many reasons: first of all, the publisher gets unique, intelligent, interesting writing that they may not have the time or skill to produce in-house; secondly, the writer gets to share their content with a broader audience and gain new readers and followers, which can help boost authority and visibility in the blogging world.
For bloggers that are just getting started, content syndication can be an effective strategy to boost authority, gain new readers and make a name for themselves in the blogging world. More established writers love content syndication for the same reasons. When both writers and publishers syndicate content correctly, every party involved stands to enjoy large benefits.
The Case for Content Syndication
By now, it’s obvious that there is a large and distinct difference between duplicate content and content syndication, although the methods by which that distinction takes place might seem somewhat blurry. Content syndication is a great way for publishers to gain plenty of high-quality content and for writers to enjoy increased visibility, but it must be done carefully.
If you’re going to syndicate content, be sure that you are syndicating correctly. Employ precautions like writing recaps, asking publishers to use No-Index meta tags, implementing rel-canonical tags or simply creating two distinct categories of content, one for your personal site and one for content distribution allies. No matter what you choose to do, it’s obvious that avoiding the dreaded cloud of duplicate content is amazingly important for bloggers everywhere.
Whether you’re syndicating your own content or syndicating content from a third-party site, the risks and the benefits must be weighed equally. When done incorrectly, syndicated content quickly becomes duplicate content and bloggers begin to test the strength of Google’s iron will. Publishers that rely entirely upon syndicated content or fly in the face of duplicate content, creating it anyway and just waiting to be caught, will eventually be caught and the penalties can be huge. It’s not fun to lose organic traffic and, fortunately, it’s avoidable. When you syndicate content correctly, it’s easy to reap the benefits of increased visibility and high-quality content without falling prey to the wrath of the Google’s Panda.
Although there are obviously risks involved with content syndication, it’s up to each individual blogger to determine whether or not content syndication is right for them.
For many bloggers, content syndication’s benefits far outweigh its drawbacks. These bloggers choose to syndicate content carefully and, often, they experience a solid increase in traffic because of it.
For example, I’ve syndicated content to SocialMediaToday (not every blog I write, just some) and the syndicated content has been shared hundreds of times—far more traction on social than I would have received without the syndication.
Once you look (and understand) at the big picture with syndication, you can easily decide if it’s right for you.
And remember, the quality of your content will determine how well it does when it’s syndicated – so always keep your standards high.