If you “speak SEO” (for example, you already know what SERP means), then you’re familiar with on-page and off-page optimization strategies designed to bring you on page 1 in Google, Yahoo and Bing. Google-friendly link building tactics are always a safe bet, enabling engines to catalog you as a trustworthy, popular and relevant source of information that deserves to occupy a privileged position in SERPs. But if you’re really craving for a bigger piece of the pie, you may need to broaden your horizons and rely on different other useful tactics, like content syndication, for instance.
Syndicated Content: An Effective Strategy
One of the most effective strategies to build credibility and trust while boosting your SEO efforts is to let a third-party webpage publish your content. Yes, that’s right! Called content syndication, this can become your powerful ally in the long run. You have to count on site publishers who are constantly craving for flawless content to be able to pursue your boldest optimization goals. Make no mistake: this is not a classic “sharing is caring” situation. You don’t syndicate your content because you are an altruistic person, but because you know that this is the key to an enhanced online visibility and a better ranking.
When Sharing Is Caring (About Yourself & Others)
Let’s start with the very beginning: what is content syndication (or syndicated content), and why should you factor in this option?
Syndicating content means that you are publishing it on a different website. Your content can be posted on a third-party website in different forms, including snippet, full article, thumbnail or link. Syndication can help you attain your most ambitious promotion goals, by allowing you to increase exposure for your line of products or brand.
Web content syndication creates a win-win situation for the original author and for the publisher. What’s in it for the third-party website, you may ask? The source that decides to host your articles satisfies its hunger for premium content, attracts a larger segment of visitors, increases website traffic and manages to stay in the public eye, thanks to your quality web writing.
In short, everybody gets what they want and they all live happily ever after in a universe in which they can make the most of search engine-friendly optimization techniques that do not upset Google. Does this mean that content syndication is always a safe bet? Unfortunately, this is not the case. However, as long as you get familiar with the not-so-secret dos and don’ts of syndication, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
Discovering and Avoiding the Pitfalls of Content Syndication
Let’s start by making one thing crystal clear: syndicated web content is only useful in guest blogs RSS feeds, and press releases. Other than that, syndication like article directories (1 article in 50 directories) is bad news with Google. Duplicate content is another major issue that could stop you from harvesting the fruits of your labor. If you post an article and you let a publisher publish the same exact content piece, you will most likely be forced to deal with a duplicate content problem.
According to Search Engine Journal, there are 2 main SEO concerns associated with content syndication: duplicate content penalties and a negative impact on your ranking.
a) Duplicate Content. By now, you should be fully aware of the fact that Google has a zero tolerance for duplicate content. Your refusal to craft stellar, 100% original content can get you out of the game in no time. But when you syndicate your materials, you don’t do it to manipulate search engines. Content syndication lets you promote your content and ultimately your entire business at a higher level, in a cost and time-effective manner. So how do you syndicate your content without making Google’s entire zoo angry? When it comes to content syndication, less is more. Rely on fewer partner sites to distribute your content and choose only the ones that can actually bring your web writing in the attention of a large audience interested in finding products or services just like the ones that you are providing. Moreover, you should include internal links and canonical tags, to let Google know that your website is the original source of the syndicated content. These simple measures should stop you from getting into trouble.
b) An Inferior Ranking. Even if you manage to improve your visibility via content syndication, there is one more threat that you should take into consideration: your content syndication partner could outrank you in search engine results, and this is definitely a risk that you can’t afford to take. It may be a good idea to syndicate your web content and eliminate your RSS feed later on, after you manage to improve your visibility.
How can you do it right? According to Search Engine Land, there are 4 main pain and risk-free tactics that could guarantee the success of syndicated content:
1) Syndicate an Article Synopsis. This is a huge SEO opportunity explored by many respectable news sources, including Business Week, which can teach us how to syndicate content like a pro. A certain story that appeals to a broader audience can be picked up by various high-quality sources. Some of them will not replicate the entire content piece. Instead of copy pasting the original article, they will display only one snippet and also link back to the original source. Obviously, this is great advantage for content creators, because syndication gives them the chance to collect quality links by simply letting reputable websites publish synopses.
2) Ask Your Publisher to Use the NoIndex Meta Tag. If your publisher agrees to place this meta tag on every single page that he “borrows” from you, this means that you no longer have to worry about duplicate content situations that could attract major penalties. NoIndex meta tag placed on a page is a valuable indicator that lets search engine know that they should not return that particular page in their results.
3) Create Two Categories of Content. There are situations in which identical content published on different websites could give you a hard time. To avoid penalties and other negative consequences, you could try to upgrade your content creation strategy. Basically, you could divide your resources and your efforts to come up with 2 categories of content: one for your website and one for your content distribution partners. In this case, the key is to develop and promote excellent, high-value content. Whether they’re published on your site or on the platform of your syndication partner, second-hand materials won’t do you any favors.
4) Rely on the Cross Domain Canonical Tag. This practice is 100% Google-friendly, so it doesn’t expose you to any risks. If your content can be found in 2 different locations, you can use the cross domain canonical tag to let Google know which website is the original source.
As you can see, content syndication can’t hurt your SEO efforts, as long as you take these basic measures of precaution. All the 4 tactics can help you increase your visibility, enhance brand awareness, attract a larger number of potential buyers and boost your profits. Speaking about money, what does content syndication cost these days? It all depends on your goals, needs and expectations. Generally speaking, there are two categories of syndication options: paid and free. Obviously, if you have limited financial possibilities or if you simply want to make the most of what’s good and free in the SEO universe, you can start by getting in touch with influential bloggers who are well-known in your field of activity.
They could endorse you by publishing your materials without expecting to get paid for this. Paid alternatives are usually worth your time and money because they bring and keep you in the public eye and increase your exposure by syndicating your web writing on popular sites like Time or CNN. Taboola and Outbrain are two of the most relevant paid content syndication options that could do wonders for your business in the long run, by putting into the spotlight and allowing you to be discovered by a larger pool of potential clients.
Outbrain can recommend your content on your website and on various top-rated publisher sites, to get what you want to say about yourself or your products in front on an engaged audience. This is one of the most respectable so-called content discovery platforms that gives you the chance to capture the attention of the right public at the right time. Outbrain can offer you two types of advantages:
- The chance to use its technology to improve reader experience, increase the time spend on your site and boost page views, while encouraging your visitors to discover more quality content located on your own website. You can also add a new revenue stream by recommending third-party content distributed on other sites.
- The chance to grow and diversify your audience, by posting your content on different websites, where readers are more likely to read your content, assimilate your message and act accordingly.
Outbrain lets you gain an insight into content optimization, while also enabling you to perfect your content & media strategy.
When Should I Give the Green Light to Content Syndication?
So now you know how to use content syndication and how to address potential risks that could hurt your ranking and compromise your SEO efforts. But keep in mind that timing is also of the essence. In order to syndicate your content, you should already be able to count on more than a few high-quality materials. As a rule of thumb, first of all you should test the content that you plan to syndicate by publishing it on your own website. This is the simplest method to measure its effectiveness and its level of impact on your public. Once you feel ready to start looking for content distribution partners, you also have to count on a competent, skilled content manager who could monitor the syndication process.
How Do I Come Up With the Right Content Syndication Strategy?
To identify and implement the ideal content syndication strategy, first of all you should analyze your own goals. Perhaps you want to increase website traffic in a manner which is not very different from paid search. Or perhaps you want to elevate your visibility and make sure your brand stays in the center of everyone’s attention for the longest period of time. If what you really want is to boost your traffic, syndicating entire articles may not be the best choice.
In this case, it would make more sense to syndicate only a first paragraph or a headline accompanied by a link to the original source. If your end goal is to increase brand awareness, then you should know that all forms of content syndication may work well for you. Once you come up with a cohesive, personalized strategy and you feel ready to put theory into practice, all you need to do is to find the best content distribution partners that could support your objectives.
How Do I Find the Most Suitable Content Syndication Partners?
The answer is simple: by conducting extensive research. First of all, you have to list and analyze your goals and determine how much money you want and can afford to invest in this process. Afterwards, you just have to take a closer look at the kind of content that you have and plan to distribute and think where you would like to see your web writing. When it comes to selecting the perfect candidates for this job, you must take into consideration 3 main aspects:
1) The particularities of your content (tone, style, audience, calls to action and general purpose)
2) The requirements of your potential content distributors
3) The software/infrastructure capabilities of all candidates
Obviously, your goal is to find a partner that can help you promote your business the easy way, in front of a large, diverse, deep-pocketed audience, without burning deep holes in your pocket. Take baby steps when it comes to distributing your content, at least until you get familiar with the written and unwritten rules of content syndication.
Who knows, maybe content syndication could be the next best thing for you. If you play your cards right and manage to establish a fruitful collaboration with respectable partners, syndication could open the doors to unbelievably effective promotion strategies that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.