Many in marketing and PR avoid syndicating their content marketing articles, mainly due to fears over search engine penalties for duplicate content or because they couldn’t find syndication sites in their industry niche.
That’s a serious PR and marketing sin, because content syndication offers a potent strategy for promoting a brand and its key messages. Unlike guest posting which entails submitting original, unpublished articles, article syndication involves republishing the same article on other websites — usually multiple websites. The other websites may post the complete article or a summary with a link to the original article. Some sites also syndicate videos, either the full video or a thumbnail and link.
Pros and Cons Content Syndication
By posting content on other websites and social media platforms, PR and content marketing can reach a much wider audience and boost the brand’s reputation in a short time. Some syndication sites enjoy large social media followings, offering the potential for articles to be shared widely. Syndication can be scalable, unlike guest posting.
Syndication provides superb SEO benefits. Writers typically enjoy more leeway when including backlinks in syndicated articles than guest posts. Importantly, you can control the anchor text of links to boost SEO value. Depending on the site, you can include links to your site or social media handles in the author bio and a call-to-action or link to a landing page within the body of the article.
Finding a right partner for content syndication can be more difficult than many believe. Some websites that publish syndicated content may have meager readerships, despite their claims. Others may have viewers outside your niche who are unlikely to purchase your products. Some websites may repurpose your articles as their own, redirect your links to their own affiliate links, or be slow to publish articles.
Companies lose control when syndicating. They typically cannot revise or update published articles. That might be fine for evergreen posts, but information and opinions often evolve over time. An article might eventually seem outdated or erroneous, damaging the brand’s reputation.
In addition, syndicated articles don’t enable companies to gather email address to build email lists.
Fear of Duplicate Content
Some marketers fear that publishing duplicate content will harm their search rankings and garner a Google penalty. In reality, Google has stated that it does not penalize sites for duplicate content, unless it perceives a malicious intent. When faced with identical content, Google attempts to identify and then show the authoritative, or canonical, version as the search engine result.
The problem is that the search engine might show searchers the syndicated version rather than the original post on your own website. “Your goal is to gain exposure, not be outranked by your content syndication partners, especially if the republished posts are highly converting,” says Joe Dudeck at Keyhole Marketing.
To avoid that situation, you can:
Post the content in your own website first and then wait about a week before syndicating. That gives Google time to index the original post and gives the post time to accrue SEO benefits. One problem with this strategy: many syndication sites want the right to publish the content first.
Include the rel=canonical tag. The HTML code <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://yourwebsite.com/blog” /> points to the original, authoritative content that Google should index. It is placed in the web page’s header section. Although contributors typically cannot add HTML code to header sections, you can ask the syndication site to agree to add the tag.
Include the noindex HTML tag in the header to tell Google not to index the article. Your website will still gain SEO benefits from links in the syndicated posts.
Essential Advice for Effective Content Syndication
Some sites don’t openly announce that they accept previously published content. To confirm that the site accepts syndicated posts, browse through its articles and look for an attribution message such as “originally appeared on” or “syndicated from,” Dudeck suggests.
When seeking a syndication partner, find information about its viewers such a job titles and geographic regions to learn if they’re our desired audience, recommends Business2Community contributor Kate Athmer. Also find what they may do to promote articles and if they have updated privacy policies. “Not all publishers are created equal, and it takes some work to find partners that will work for you. It’s important to ask a lot of questions,” Athmer says.
Many publications and blogs with high numbers of followers do, in fact, republish well-developed content that is helpful to their niche readerships and not overly promotional. Business2Community is one highly-ranked online publication with a business-oriented focus. Medium is another. Most every industry sector has multiple niche publications or blogs that will publish syndicated content that the editors judge as valuable to their readers. They often prefer “how to” articles.
For some types of content marketing articles, it’s possible to use a press release service such as Business Wire or PR Newswire to distribute the article. For that distribution strategy, it’s best to include a “newsy” lede – and be sure that the service distributes to blogs as well as traditional publications. North American Precis Syndicate also distributes publicity materials in a variety of formats to newspapers, online publications, radio and TV stations. It works best for consumer publicity.
Once you’ve identified a website that will publish your syndicated content, publish consistently on the site, recommends digital marketing expert Neil Patel. Try to create a regular arrangement with the site to republish a post every week or month.
The largest sites seek top-notch writers who are authorities in their niche, Patel says. To establish a strong reputation, consider creating articles for your own site and guest posting. “When you guest post on some of the most-read blogs in your niche, you’ll build samples that will be indispensable when you reach out to the big blogs with content syndication requests,” he says.
Bottom Line: Content syndication can offer an excellent PR and marketing strategy. By republishing articles on other websites, companies can quickly increase brand awareness and promote their PR and marketing messages. The challenge is locating the right syndication sites and creating suitable content.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.