Content syndication best practices
In the world of content marketing, there are a few ‘golden rules’ that you’ll read in almost every guide to online strategy. One of these is to never duplicate content, in order to avoid Google penalties that can harm your website’s visibility and make it more difficult for potential customers to find you.
While it’s certainly true that duplicate content can have a negative effect on an organisation’s ranking on search engines, there are a few situations where reposting content can be an effective tactic for lead generation. This approach is known as content syndication, and if used correctly the strategy can boost your leads and industry reputation, without hampering SEO efforts.
However, syndicating content for use in multiple locations is a fine line to toe, and any misunderstandings of how the process works can lead to Google-imposed penalties.
If used correctly, content syndication can boost lead generation and industry reputation, without hampering your SEO efforts.
What is content syndication
Content syndication is the practice of reposting your blog posts (or any other form of content) on a third-party website. This could be one of your business partners, an industry news site, or anywhere else your material will be seen by potential customers. You may choose to republish the piece in its entirety, or just a small portion, but in either scenario it’s important to understand how content syndication differs from content distribution.
When you distribute your content, you are disseminating is across multiple channels in order to ensure your target audience sees it. This could mean pushing it out via an automated email, or publishing on a social media platform such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Content distribution is an incredibly common (and important) part of an online marketing strategy, but it’s not the same as syndication. The key difference is that when you syndicate content, you are placing it on an external business’ platform, as opposed to somewhere that is controlled by your business.
While a lot of the buzz around content syndication revolves around where to syndicate your content, and what that can do for your organisation, it’s also important to keep in mind that the process works both ways. If you want to align yourself with a certain company or individual, inviting them to republish content on your blog as a ‘guest post’ can be a great way to reinforce your business as a well-connected industry leader.
The benefits of content syndication
While there are all sorts of different benefits to content syndication, one of the most valuable is the ability to reach a larger audience. In turn, this can lead to increased website traffic, improved lead generation, and ultimately, more sales.
Expanding your audience is particularly valuable if you manage to have your content published on a site with a good reputation – such as an industry blog or well-known user-generated content curation hub. For example, you may be able to syndicate a blog post on Medium or Business 2 Community, both of which pull contributions from a variety of sources in order to provide readers with a range of opinions and expert analysis.
In addition to reaching a larger audience, having your content on a reputable third-party website implies that your business’ product or service is high quality. After all, if your content is being republished, you must know what you’re talking about! At the same time, when creating content for syndication, it’s a good idea to keep things relatively informative, rather than simply pushing your business, which often comes across as too ‘salesy’ for readers who aren’t on your website.
Last but not least, syndicated content can have a positive impact on SEO. Yes, it’s true! Despite everything you’ve heard about the dangers of duplicating material online, following content syndication best practices can boost your visibility on search engines via author bylines and links back to your business’ website.
Despite everything you’ve heard about the dangers of duplicating material online, following content syndication best practices can boost your visibility on search engines.
How to use syndicated content
So, if syndicated content is so beneficial, why isn’t everyone doing it? The answer is, because it’s easy to get wrong. Aside from the possibility of falling foul of Google, a few other potential risks include inadvertently outranking your own content, accidentally posting on a website with a bad reputation or generating low-quality leads that will never turn into sales.
Luckily, there are a few simple content syndication best practices that you can use to ensure you don’t have to deal with these issues when republishing on a third-party website.
The first of these is to always publish syndicated content on a site that you trust and is appropriate for your message. That could mean working with a business partner that you have prior experience with, or sticking to the well-respected names such as Medium, Mashable and Business 2 Community. This will ensure your work is always linked back to you, represents your brand in the right light, and will be viewed by the right type of audience.
Secondly, you’ll need to make sure that syndicated content is uploaded in such a way that it won’t annoy Google’s algorithms, while still keeping your business’ website as the highest ranking source for your own content. The most important part of this is ensuring syndicated content has what’s known as a ‘canonical tag,’ sometimes referred to as the ‘rel=canonical tag.’ This is a piece of code that tells search engines which version of an article is the original (known as the ‘canonical URL’). In addition, you should make sure that any syndicated content is always uploaded to your own website first, in order to ensure it is indexed by search engines before any duplicates appear on other sites.
Content syndication examples
Perhaps the best way to understand syndication is to see it in action. The example below (taken from SEO maven Neil Patel) underlines one of the most common ways that businesses syndicate their content – by reaching out to reputable, popular websites. In this case, Lifehacker.
By reaching out to Lifehacker and submitting this article for syndication, The Simple Dollar (a financial resource site) was able to expand its reach to an audience interested in its content – according to Lifehacker’s parent company Allure Media, 68 per cent of the site’s readership have investments worth nearly US$500,000.
By matching syndication partner to content, The Simple Dollar has ensured its material is reaching an audience with an interest in what it has to say, leading to not just more leads, but the right type of leads.
Of course, not every business will have a wide enough appeal to post on large platforms like Lifehacker. Others may not have partner businesses available as republishing platforms. Luckily, content syndication can also be done by individuals, with one of the very best examples of this being via LinkedIn.
Consider reaching out to an expert within your industry – or even a former customer who will have connections with prospective clients – and asking them to republish a piece of your business’ content on their LinkedIn page. Not only will you reach a larger audience, but you’ll also benefit from close association with either an industry leader, or a satisfied customer.
Ultimately, the best way to ensure your syndication practices are going to help, rather than harm, your overall content marketing efforts is to align yourself with the right strategy team. They’ll be able to ensure each piece of content is tagged appropriately, helping you get the best out of the process without having to worry about suffering in search.