Content Syndication: How to Make it Work for You

Syndicating your content is a tricky game. On the one hand, getting more exposure for you, your brand, or your company is a good thing. On the other hand, having another site outrank you for your own content is not a good thing. In this post, I’ll take a look at some of the pros and cons and offer some tips about how you can make syndication work for you.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. Content syndication is different from web-scraping: content syndication is when you allow your content to be placed on another site. In some cases, the site will approach you asking to use your work; in other cases, you will approach them. In either case, both parties consent to the action. However, from a search engine perspective, it’s almost identical to web scraping because the engines see the same content in two places and have to look for signals that tell them who is the source or owner.

If you are thinking about content syndication, there are few things you do and don’t want to do. The first thing is you don’t want to give permission for someone to take all of your new content; instead, you want to give them access to a limited number of pieces. Try to come up with an arrangement that works for everyone like no more than 2 posts a month, or only posts from some select categories. If you have multiple syndication partners, this can be tricky.

There are some instances when you want to let someone republish your post in its entirety and aren’t concerned about the link back to your post…

Another thing you really want to try and negotiate is credit with a linkback to the original post. A notice at the beginning or end of post that says “This post was originally published on John Smith’s blog (link) under the title John Smith’s Great Title (link)”. If you can get a link to your homepage and the original post that’s golden. If you can only get one link, go for the deep link to the original post. It may seem counter-intuitive but it’s key if you want the search engines to credit you properly. I have seen some people try and use the rel canonical tag, but I’m less than convinced that it’s fool proof when crossing domains. IMHO it’s not worth the dice roll. If you can negotiate they only re-publish a snippet/section and not the entire post, that can also work to you advantage, because it means they have to link back  to the original post.

There are some instances when you want to let someone republish your post in its entirety and aren’t concerned about the link back to your post. For example, maybe you have an issue/rant/viewpoint that you want to get in front of a larger audience where it can do more good/damage. In that case, damn the search engines, full speed syndication ahead. Sometimes you know what type of post publishers like to syndicate, and you can create those posts with a few well-placed links to your projects, client’s projects, or friend’s projects. In the end you’ll end up with a higher powered link in exchange for giving up ownership of the content in the eyes of a search engine. Working on an ORM project? Get a pieced picked up with the client name in the post, point a few targeted anchor text links, and viola! One more SERP position will be under your control.

So what are the takeaways from this post:

  • Never let anyone republish 100% of your content
  • Try to get a link back to your main site and individual post in every article
  • Give permission to syndicate only a snippet of the post
  • Sometimes getting visibility is more important than getting credit
  • Sometimes getting a link from a higher powered site is more important than getting credit
  • Syndicated content can be powerful tool for ORM projects

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