Here we’ll take a look at the practice of content syndication and answer a few questions…
What is it? How do I get started? How do I find content syndication platforms? Is it helpful for SEO?
Please note, this is a new version of our previously published guide to content syndication published in 2013, written by Andrew Delamarter. All the information has been revised and updated.
What is content syndication?
Content syndication is the process of pushing your blogpost, article, video or any piece of web-based content out to other third-parties who will then republish it on their own sites.
Why would I use content syndication?
Content syndication is particularly useful if you’re a smaller publisher or an up-and-coming writer who wants a larger audience from a more authoritative site.
By having your blog content published on The Guardian (for instance) you will be exposed to a much wider audience that isn’t your own, who may then visit you on your own blog.
The other major reason for doing this is SEO. Some of that bigger site’s authority should be passed down to you.
But doesn’t that create a duplicate content issue?
Not if you and your distribution partner carry out your SEO work correctly.
Yes there will be two or more versions of your content flying around the internet, and ordinarily when this happens Google will only index one of those versions (it won’t penalise you, it will just decide which version should appear in search results and ignore the other) – however there is a safe way to ensure all the link-juice flows towards your original content…
SEO-friendly ways of syndicating content
Here are a few methods you and your syndication partner can try to ensure safe content indexing…
The site that has republished your content needs to make sure they’ve implemented a rel=canonical tag on their page, which links back to your original content.
This will pass all of the PageRank and other Google ranking signals back to your webpage, and will also inform Google that yours is the page that should appear in search results.
If you want to doublecheck that your syndication partner is using a canonical tag, you can run their page through a tool like SEO Review Tools’ canonical checker.
There are other safe ways to syndicate content too. Both of the following ideas are from Eric Enge’s Whiteboard Friday video as featured on Moz.
meta noindex tag
According to Eric Enge, this is the same principle as the canonical tag. The authority site implements a meta noindex tag on their page and it instructs the search engine to remove the page from the index, thus solving the duplicate content problem.
Clean link to original article
You may find that your syndication partner can’t be bothered with the extra coding or still want their version of your article to be indexed in search results. So they’ll just use a clean text link on their page to the same article on your site.
Like this – 10 most shared Olympic ads so far.
According to Eric Enge, when search engines see that link, they’re pretty good at understanding that it belongs to the original author, so you still may get some authority and avoid duplicate content.
However to be certain, it’s perhaps best to use the rel=canonical tag.
How to set up your syndication strategy?
The following advice comes from Andrew Delamarter’s original article…
The first step of content syndication is to establish goals that match your business model. For example, if you’re trying to build traffic on your blog to capture leads, syndicating full article content out to partners might not be the best approach.
Syndicating a headline, the first paragraph, and a link back to the blog, however, might make sense. If you are mainly trying to build awareness of your product or brand in a broad sense, syndication of all forms may be in order.
Once you know your goal, think about the kind of content you have and where you want to send it. Map out content distribution partners, their requirements, and your content and infrastructure (software) capability.
Planning ahead for syndication makes sense. During a redesign or site launch, or when setting up your content strategy, content structure (think meta data schemas and content types), and content management systems, think about how you can build things to auto-generate feeds in a flexible fashion without a lot of manual work.
Are paid content syndication partners any good?
You could take the paid syndication route, and there are two major players in this space creating ‘recommended content’ widgets, which you may have seen hanging around at the bottom of various publisher’s articles.
Personally I’m not a big fan of them, they seem to be cluttering up the web with less than reputable posts, taking visitors down rabbit holes of bad user experience, and the occasional NSFW image, even from more trustworthy publishers.
However don’t let my opinion sway you, many of them – such as Outbrain – do have a better understanding of relevancy and taste then others, and feature on sites such as The Guardian, so it may be good for your blog.
Content recommendation engines typically charge the advertiser or content promoter per click and then share revenue with the publisher if they are large enough.
How do I find non-paid syndication partners?
There are several syndication opportunities that don’t require huge amounts of expenditure, or in fact any amount. It just requires a little bit of elbow grease.
Do some research, find the sites and blogs that are related to your industry. I guarantee they will always be looking out for good content (especially if it’s free) and there’s no such thing as publishing too many valuable and interesting features.
Send a friendly email to the editor of the site that has a similar audience and interests to yours and include examples of your previous work. If you want a really helpful insider tip, include a post that’s ready for syndication immediately!
Syndication partners will typically want to be the sole syndicator of any particular piece of content. You can have as many syndication partners as you like, but don’t try to get one specific article republished multiple times through multiple sites.
Good luck and happy syndicating!