Syndicate With Caution: Why All Publicity Isn't Good Publicity

March 5, 2015

whole brain marketing blog author


Posted by Alex Sobal

syndication-content-in-an-industrial-plant

For companies that are just starting to blog, one of the hardest jobs you’re tasked with is growing your blog audience. Even if you write flawless articles, it’s still hard to get noticed when you don’t have any SEO traction, and it’s easy to grow impatient when you see established bloggers racking up thousands of shares. Rather than sitting back and letting your subscriber list grow slowly over time, however, there are several ways businesses can proactively increase their blog subscribers, and one of those popular strategies is blog syndication. 

Put simply, syndication is the republishing of content on other websites with proper attribution to the original author. After publishing an article on your blog, aggregator sites will republish your article on their own website, and cite your original post as the source. This way, aggregator sites get new content to share with their readers, and you get to build valuable SEO links while also benefiting from the extra exposure. Sounds like a win-win, right?

Not necessarily. 

As we’ve learned from our own syndication experiments in the past, not all publicity is good publicity when it comes to sharing your blog content. When done correctly, blog syndication can play a valuable role in increasing blog engagement. In some cases, however, syndicating your content can actually hurt your rankings in the SERPs. To help make sure you make the right decision when it comes to syndicating your own content, here’s a quick breakdown of the best practices for blog syndication, as well as the pros and cons. 

Blog Syndication Best Practices

Before you start syndicating your content on other websites, it’s crucial that you develop a syndication strategy. Make sure you follow these best practices when syndicating your content: 

  • Use canonical URL tags. To avoid getting penalized for duplicate content, make sure you use canonical URL tags to help Google distinguish that you’re the original author. If you don’t know what canonical URL tags are, the article above will teach you all about them.

  • Don’t syndicate immediately after publishing. Once you’ve published the original post, give Google time to index your version first before passing it along to aggregators. If you syndicate your content too quickly, Google might not recognize your version as the original – even if you use a canonical URL tag.

  • Ask aggregators to link back to the original article. Though most aggregators will do this automatically, don’t be afraid to ask and make sure. Linking back to your article is another way for Google to distinguish yours as the original, and the link will help your SEO. Just make sure they’re actually linking back to the article and not your home page.

  • Syndicate on high-ranking sites. Not only will high-ranking sites get more traffic for your articles, but their links back to your site will also be more valuable. That being said, high-ranking aggregators might outrank your original article in the search engines, so you’ll want to make sure your syndicated articles aren’t cannibalizing your own website traffic.

  • Use relevant links back to your site. If you plan on using any links in your article, always try to use links that direct readers back to your own website. Not only will you earn more link credit from the aggregator, but you’ll also increase your website’s traffic.

  • Maintain a consistent publishing schedule and writing style. Just because aggregator sites are looking for new content, doesn’t mean they’re willing to accept just anything. Most reputable networks will want to make sure that your articles consistently meet their quality standards, so it’s important to have a solid body of work that they can judge you on. Try to maintain a consistent publishing schedule for at least 3 months before asking to get syndicated.

Blog Syndication Pros and Cons

Now that you have a better idea of what it takes to successfully syndicate your blog, it’s time to evaluate whether or not you should actually syndicate your content. To find out whether blog syndication is right for you, make sure you factor these pros and cons into your decision:

Pros 

  • Wider reach. Syndicating your content on other websites will allow you to reach a larger audience than simply publishing on your own blog.

  • SEO gains. If done correctly, the links back to your original article will boost your site’s ranking and traffic.

  • Increased lead generation. As a by-product of a larger audience and improved SEO, blog syndication should help you generate more leads for your site – especially if the aggregator allows you to share your own CTAs.

  • More authority. As people start to notice your name frequently appearing next to high-quality content on industry websites, your authority and reputation as a thought leader can skyrocket.

Cons

  • SEO Losses. If you don’t use canonical URL tags or follow the other best practices, content syndication will actually hurt your SEO rankings. Google might recognize the aggregator site as the original author, while you get penalized for publishing duplicate content.

  • Lost traffic. Here’s where content syndication can get tricky. If you syndicate your content on an aggregator site that ranks much higher than your own website, the aggregator’s article might actually appear higher than your own in the search engine results. This will result in less clicks back to your back website.

  • More chances for content thieves. The more you share your content across the web, the more likely it is to be plagiarized or republished without your permission. If you notice this happening, here’s a few tips on what do.

  • Lost engagement. If someone reads your article on an aggregator site, chances are that’s where they’re going to leave a comment. Likewise, that’s where they’re going to share it on social media, and where they’re going to click any CTAs.

  • Diluted lead quality. While syndication creates the potential to attract more leads, that doesn’t mean they’ll be more qualified. Popular aggregator websites often attract a much more diverse crowd, and a higher quantity won’t necessarily translate to a higher quality.

Our Story

At Weidert Group, our experiments with blog syndication have brought mixed results. On one hand, syndicating our content on two high-ranking marketing websites helped bring in a decent amount of referral traffic and inbound links. On the other hand, however, we noticed that these high-ranking sites would often outrank our original articles – even with the proper canonical URL tags. In addition, the leads they brought in were usually low-quality, with the majority being students, freelancers, and other marketers. To help bring more traffic back to our own website, we decided to pull the syndication plug, and are now much more selective with our syndication strategy. Though we still syndicate an article from time to time, we’ve benefitted from focusing on our own blogging efforts, and our SEO rankings and traffic are doing great without it. 

In conclusion…

As you look for different ways to grow your blog audience, it’s always a good idea to give syndication a try. Syndicating your content really does have a lot of benefits, and can help you turn you into a thought leader in your industry. That being said, just make sure your syndication efforts aren’t hurting your own results. Traffic back to your own website is the most important traffic of all, and you don’t want syndication to slow you down.

The business builder's guide to crafting a powerful blog



Topics: Content Marketing



whole brain marketing blog author
Written by Alex Sobal

Alex has exceptional writing skills and the ability to learn new industries and their complex processes. While at Weidert Group, he was also an avid social media marketer and wrote frequently on online community engagement and content creation strategies for our blog.

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