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October 19, 2022 (Updated: March 8, 2023)
Anyone who works in marketing knows that traffic doesn’t arrive overnight. No matter how great your content is, there is no guarantee that Google will pick the article up and start to rank it on the first page. You’ll need to get creative if you want the best shot at rising through the ranks. One of the leading strategies that teams can turn to is content syndication. When done well, content syndication benefits your reach, site traffic, and backlinks.
That said, not all content syndication plans are successful. In fact, most attempts actually end up harming a website. From ruining on-site SEO to outranking your own articles, it’s hard to toe the line when republishing content. To help you stay on the positive side of this content distribution technique, we’ll get into content syndication benefits, drawbacks, and tactics with topics like:
Content syndication is the practice of republishing content on different websites. Say you write a fantastic blog post for your business. A few weeks later, you could send it off to a bigger publication. They’ll post it, give you a backlink for the content, and boost the post’s visibility. Make sure you don’t confuse content syndication with guest posting. While both of these involve posting content on other sites, the former is content that you’ve already created. You’re essentially letting another company copy and paste your content on their site.
As a heading to syndicated content, companies will traditionally mention that the content isn’t original to them. A quick “this has been republished here from Site X” or “Original article published on Site X” is the industry standard. A short tag like this lets readers know they’re moving through content that was originally posted on a different site. Notice how this tag credits the article back to Forbes:
Image via Alvarez and Marsal
Beyond just a customary reference, this also ensures you get a juicy backlink to your site. That’s not to mention any internal links you used in the article before posting. That said, the written word isn’t the only format you can use for content syndication. Content can come in many forms. While most people think of articles or long-form blog posts, you can find success syndicating a range of different content:
Simply put, if you’re posting it on your site, you can post it on someone else’s—but with permission of course.
Read more: What Is Content Syndication?
For those that aren’t familiar with content syndication and its benefits, this strategy can sound a little strange. Believe us, we’ve been there. Jumping right into syndication without proper planning can quickly turn into a disaster.
According to the Backlinko page on Google’s ranking factors, original content is vital for success online. So, when reposting content on other sites, where does that leave us? That’s where a content syndication strategy comes in. If you fail to take proper technique into account, then you’ll end up accidentally bringing down a range of negatives on your site.
One of the main technical edits you’ll need to make is including a canonical attribute tag. Most sites that provide content syndication services will already know what this is. But in case you need to remind them, you’ll be using rel=canonical to tackle duplicate content issues before they happen.
You should place this attribute on the anchor tag. This signals to Google that the content here isn’t original, and comes from a certain source. The source, of course, is your website’s URL. Although a small edit, this tag can make a huge difference between Google putting your content into a “syndicated” or “plagiarized” box.
There are many ways to go about content syndication. Depending on your niche, what content your business likes to produce, and your company size, your options might vary a little. That said, there are three main strategies that you can always turn to when looking to successful syndicate content:
Ever heard of domain ratings? If you work in marketing, of course, you have. Every website has a domain authority, which is a reflection of how much Google trusts the platform. Sites with high ratings, such as 70 or above, are extremely trustworthy. But low scores might have trouble ranking their content.
One of the biggest advantages of content syndication is getting backlinks from sites with higher domain ratings than you have. A great content syndication method is to look for websites in your niche that have bigger audiences than you. Just off the top of your head, you might know some notable publications.
Now, you don’t have to aim for the top of the top. In fact, you might have some trouble if you try and instantly syndicate content in the biggest content pages in the world. While you should try and land publications on larger websites, they don’t have to be the very top of the barrel. Just look for websites that have a higher domain rating than you, which create content in your niche.
If you’re cold-pitching content syndication, then you might experience a lot of rejection at first. Keep at it, syndicating upward is by far the best strategy you can turn to.
If syndicating upward is about finding sites with higher domain ratings, then what do you think horizontal syndication would be? You guessed it— sites with a similar domain rating to you. These could be your competitors or just live publications that are accepting republished content. By finding sites that have a similar domain rating, you’re able to more easily score republishing opportunities.
With websites that have high domain ratings, there’s more competition to get content onto their sites. Websites with a mid-tier DR won’t experience the same flood of companies all wanting to post. That’s where your horizontal content syndication has benefits. Reach out to websites that you know have similar audiences as your own, and see if you can arrange something. Sometimes, you can find an editor that will syndicate your content. In other cases, editors may want to publish their content on your site in exchange.
Finding a few deals like these is always a great option. Not only do you access the benefits of syndicating your content to another page, but you’re also getting a free post to publish on your own blog.
Backward syndication works hand in hand with guest posting. You write a guest post for a notable publication, wait a few months, then publish the same content on your site. Of course, you need to agree on this with the original site. Remember, even though you wrote it, you’re essentially giving away that content when you guest post.
If you get your guest post host to accept your terms, then you’re set for backward syndication. Give the original post enough time to index and start to rank, then post it on your own site. You should always be proud of your guest post content, so posting it on your own site will be a treat.
Much like exchanging syndication content with another site, this gives you a “free” article to post on your website. Then again, you did actually write this one, so maybe not quite as free as the previous example. If you write a lot of guest posts, it can be hard to find enough time for your own content. That’s where backward syndication comes in clutch.
When multiple sites pick up one of your articles, it can spread like a chain reaction. From one site or a hundred sites, your content can spread like wildfire. If all these sites are pointing back to your original content, you have a winner. This is especially common with press releases. It’s not uncommon to find 10 or more websites all publishing an extremely similar press release. Of course, news sites want to stay on the beat, so turn to syndication to create instant content throughout the press cycle.
We’re a little hesitant to frame this as a strategy, as it’s very hard to pull off naturally. One way of doing this is to create networks where you syndicate content, posting it across several mediums all at once. This increases the content’s visibility and can lead to a domino effect. As we stated, if you’re posting news, this will be significantly easier to pull off.
Read more: Syndicating Content: Building a Better Content Strategy
Content syndication sure seems like a lot of work. To someone not in the space, finding these connections and then utilizing them could be a total waste of time. Yet, the reality is that content syndication is one of the most effective ways of getting your content out there. Let’s face it, it’s hard to rank content naturally.
Especially if you’re on the content marketing team for a fairly new site, your domain rating won’t let you rank anytime soon. But, that doesn’t mean you’re helpless. Content syndication can be the solution to these early ranking pains, providing a range of useful benefits to the original posting company. Take a look at some of the benefits of content syndication:
Posting your content on sites that have bigger audiences than you means that more people are going to see your content. Alongside that, you’re also going to expose yourself to a different audience than normal.
If your content is high-quality and interesting, you might just convert some of those readers into fans of yours. It only takes one click to leap from your republished content onto the home site, with this ease facilitating a movement of new readers to your site. A huge advantage of republishing content is the extra eyes you’ll get on it.
Image via USERP
As content marketers, we live and die by backlinks. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic – but they’re definitely important. Backlinks have been one of the most important ranking factors for years. In USERP’s State of Link Building report, they note that 67.5% of marketing teams state that backlinks have a big impact on ranking. They’re not alone in this, as a large majority of marketing agencies place a lot of emphasis on generating backlinks for their clients.
When you engage in content syndication, you’re posting content on other businesses’ and brands’ websites. With this comes a backlink—or even a few—from that page. Especially if you’re syndicating upward, this gives us a big green check mark from a site that Google trusts. The more sites that you have linking back to yours, the better your own site seems.
Google is notoriously secretive about what factors make content rank well. However, with the amount of us working in marketing, we’ve found some clear pieces of the puzzle. According to a study by Ahrefs, there’s a strong correlation between the number of referring domains a site has and its monthly organic search traffic.
As people get more backlinks to their site, their content ranks better, and they get more traffic. Taking this further, sites that rank well for their keywords almost always have a high domain rating. This makes total sense. After all, who do you think Google is going to promote? A site that started yesterday or a reliable one that’s been creating useful content for years? As you gain more backlinks through content syndication, you’ll be increasing your site’s domain rating. With this, you’re set to gain a whole host of benefits.
Rolling off the back of our last three benefits, more natural traffic is an obvious one. As you get more backlinks, improve your domain rating, and are seen by more people online, your traffic is going to increase. Whether that new traffic comes from users moving from a syndicated piece of content to your site, or just through ranking higher on the SERPS, traffic is traffic.
As a passive benefit of content syndication, more traffic is a lifesaver. Marketing KPIs often revolve around traffic and engagement, making this a great way to get ahead. Especially if you feel like your content strategy is currently stagnant, then throwing a few pieces of syndicated content out there could really jump-start your traffic.
Related: What Is Content Syndication in B2B Marketing?
Content syndication benefits many parts of your strategy, but there are some drawbacks to content syndication. If you send out content to sites with low domain ratings, then you could actually be hindering your company. Not every single backlink to your site is positive, with links from spammy sites reflecting badly on you. If you’re not careful about your content syndication strategy, there are a range of drawbacks that you could experience:
One of the most frequently asked questions around content syndication is whether or not it hurts SEO. The simple answer is yes, it can. But, only when done wrong. If Google thinks that your syndication strategy is a cheap attempt at farming backlinks, some red flags could be rising. If you work with content syndication platforms that have low domain ratings or seem like content publication farms, then you could be shooting yourself in the foot.
Instead of a noble syndication effort, Google will see lots of low DR backlinks as a spam attempt. With this, you’ll mark your site and accidentally derail your own SEO. If you want to avoid the bad bits of content syndication, you have to play by the rules. Use canonical tags, and be sure to adhere to our next few tips.
If your content is ranking well, it might not be the best article to send off to other publications. If you’re in the top 5 spots, then you’re already doing something right with that article. Sending off a well-ranking article could be a recipe for disaster. Especially if a site with a higher domain rating posts your content, they could end up bumping you down the rankings. Yes, your own content can hit you off the top SERP spot.
This one definitely isn’t the worst outcome. If your content is doing well on someone else’s site, you’re still going to be gaining visibility. But, it can be a little frustrating when you’re de-ranked by your own writing. Especially considering how important it is to keep those top spots, outranking yourself is a huge pain.
One big mistake you can make with content syndication is partnering with your rivals. If you send content over to your competition for them to post, then your content syndication benefits their strategy. You don’t want your well-written, helpful content to seem like it’s coming from competitors. Although you might have a reference in the header, some readers will just skip over that.
Even if this approach to content syndication benefits your domain, be careful if you choose to work with a competitor. Always work with domains that shine favorably on you. You don’t want to send your best article over to your biggest competition, and then have them outrank you. Trust us, it can happen.
Are you wondering how to analyze the competition? Using the CopyPress content analysis tool, you’ll get to grips with what content areas your competitors are posting in. From there, you’ll know what keyword gaps to target and which to avoid. You’ll also get insights into the potential websites that you can use as part of your strategy. Use this information to create an outreach plan for content syndication.
Another drawback to content syndication that we want to touch on is all about timing. Content that you syndicate should be taken from older blog posts. As we know, Google can take up to a few months to index content and have it start ranking on SERPs.
If you send off an article that you only published a week or two ago, then you won’t have given Google enough time to index your content. If a site with a higher domain rating then posts your content, you might end up being indexed second. Not only does this mess up your canonical references, but it could lead your content to look plagiarized.
If Google thinks you’re directly copying content, then you might get flagged as a spam site. Do this too often, and well, it was nice knowing you. This is one of the biggest downsides to content syndication. Luckily, if you just give your articles enough time to index, you’ll never run into this one.
Content syndication has a lot of benefits. That said, a few wrong moves and you could end up with the opposite of its intended effect. When constructing a content syndication strategy, you need to be sure to play by the rules. Remember to incorporate canonical tags, high-domain rating sites, and older content.
At CopyPress, we know how to help our clients to leverage the benefits of content syndication as part of their strategy. By digging into a content analysis, gathering insights about your content gaps, and planning out promotional approaches, we’ll work with you to craft a syndication strategy that increases content reach, audience engagement, and traffic to your website. Curious about how to get started? Schedule a 1:1 call with the team, and we’ll walk you through the process to create a winning content marketing strategy.
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