When it comes to your SEO efforts, syndicating your content is like chewing on a piece of gum. It will keep you busy and leave a nice taste in your mouth, but it will ultimately provide you with zero nourishment.
While content syndication is nothing new (see the Associated Press), it has recently sprung up as an internet marketing tactic, and it has become quite controversial.
Why Syndicate at All?
Content syndication is the means of duplicating and posting content that is already published on your own website to third party sites. It is a tactic that is used in an attempt to drive more traffic back to your own website by spreading your content across the Internet.
You are probably tempted to syndicate content because it may get you exposure to larger, more popular websites’ audiences. If the sites that you choose to syndicate with are larger and more regarded, some of that authority can also be passed on to you, boosting your website’s reputation.
But it’s not all that some people make it out to be.
How Content Syndication Can Hurt SEO
Content syndication can work when it is implemented properly.
But therein lies the problem.
If you are unfamiliar with the workings of link attribution and rel=canonical/no-index tags, you are asking for search engines to send your original content straight to the land of forgotten links.
When you syndicate your content, you are creating duplicate pages with identical content that search crawlers must go through when a query is entered. While the crawlers do try to find the original source of the content, many times the pages of the websites that you’ve syndicated with (i.e. the duplicate copies) will rank higher than your original content.
This often happens because the websites that hold the duplicate content have more activity on them than your website (which is likely why you chose to syndicate with them), meaning Google will rank those websites higher, thus sending web traffic to duplicate pages instead of to the source.
In the worst case scenario, Google will recognize your original page as the duplicate content and ultimately hide it from search results altogether.
This is undoubtedly bad for you since the very people you are trying to attract will be diverted to other websites. Your content will still be read, but your website traffic, and thus your conversion rates will suffer.
Google spells this out clearly in their duplicate content help section, saying,”If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer.”
This leads to problems not only with SEO, but also with brand awareness. Content creation is not only about SEO, but also about gaining recognition as an influential voice in your industry. When content is syndicated and displayed on multiple websites, the origin of the source can get lost in the mix. Many times, the fact that you created the piece is forgotten, along with your company’s brand.
What Are the Alternatives?
There are few proven strategies that can help you gain more website traffic. Instead of opting for the controversial strategy of content syndication, you can implement one of these strategies:
Rather than having another website create a duplicate page for your content, write something original and have them post it as a guest blog or a piece of featured content. By doing this, you will still gain access to the website’s audience, will be able to link back to your website and you won’t have to worry about the consequences of duplicate content.
Focus on Original Content
Writing stellar content is about being newsworthy, taking a stand on issues that matter and encouraging engagement at every turn.
Instead of trying to get your content duplicated and spread across the Internet, you would be better served by focusing on creating content (blog posts, videos, infographics, etc.) that will gain the attention of larger websites and other bloggers.
Let other websites find and link back to your content, rather than begging for space on theirs. You can also contact website owners who run sites that are related to your industry, asking them to link back to your website’s content.
It’s link earning tactics like these that will get your content noticed without risking duplication.
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No content syndication required.
Disagree with us? Let us know why you think content syndication works in the comments below.