The year is 1884 and a young Samuel Sidney McClure has just moved to New York City to make his mark as a newsman. Contrary to his fellow journalists, McClure began paying writers for long investigative reports, books and deeply reported features. Instead of publishing them himself, he bought the rights to the stories and sold them to publishers around the world. And thus, content syndication was born.
Fast forward 130 years and this concept has evolved into a commonly used practice in the digital world of content marketing. Today, content syndication is the act of republishing your blog content onto third-party sites in order to gain more exposure. These third-party sites allow you to capitalize on their audience, while linking directly back to the original post on your site.
Time is a content marketer’s most precious resource and syndication can save you a ton of time in the content creation process. It also has its risks, which is why we’ve outlined the pros and cons of content syndication, as well as why your company should either consider it or steer clear.
Syndicating your content puts your brand in front of people from your target audience who were otherwise unaware you existed. Some of the larger syndication websites have huge social media followings that you’re able to tap into, with the potential to create a viral effect for your content.
When done correctly, syndicating your content provides additional author bylines and quality links back to your website. You also have the added bonus of controlling the anchor text in the link, ultimately boosting your SEO.
By increasing your exposure to a new audience, your Rolodex of qualified leads may very well grow. Republishing content allows you to meet a segment of your target audience where they are, giving them what they’re searching for in the places they’re already searching.
While syndicating promotional content is typically frowned upon, oftentimes you’re able to include links back to your site or social media handles in your author bio or include a call-to-action within the copy of your article.
Republishing your content on well-established and high-authority sites positions you among thought leaders within your industry and boosts your brand’s reputation. If people believe you’re a credible source, they’re more likely to buy into your message as well.
This is the biggest fear for marketers when syndicating content. The Google gods strongly discourage duplicate content, which is essentially what you’re doing when you republish your content on third-party sites. Check out part two of this post for some SEO tricks that will help with issues that may arise with duplicate content.
If your content syndication strategy is super successful, your blog content may end up being republished on a huge publication (i.e. Lifehacker). However, if someone then goes searching for your keywords from that post, the Lifehacker article may appear first in Google search results, as opposed to your version, discouraging people from actually visiting your site.
When you republish content on a third-party site, those sites don’t allow you to add an email opt-in widget. So while you may gain added exposure, you aren’t able to use that exposure to build your email list.
The most important part of content syndication is finding the right partners. Unfortunately, there are some sites that don’t have a good syndication program and will re-purpose your content as their own, instead of republishing it with a link back to your site.
While your overall lead generation numbers will most likely increase, you may be sacrificing the quality of interested leads. When launching a content syndication program, it’s important to collaborate with your sales team and consider implementing a lead scoring program or lengthening your landing page forms.
Many marketers (including us) believe the benefits of content syndication can far outweigh the risks. That is, if you do it the right way. We believe in content syndication because we believe in adding valuable content to the web. If you’re still on the fence, we recommend trying it out for some of your most popular pieces of content to get a feel for the process.
There are many pros and cons to syndicating your content, but many marketers believe that the benefits far outweigh the costs. The right syndication partners can provide you with greater exposure, an instantaneous SEO boost, and big lead generation opportunities. On the flip side, the wrong partners can leave you on bad terms with Google or result in publications re-purposing your content as their own.
So how do you make sure you’re doing content syndication right? Below, we’ve outlined where and how to successfully syndicate your content:
When looking for good content syndication partners, we recommend searching from within your niche or industry-specific geographic areas or target buyer personas. The key is to look for sites with a well-established audience that are open to content syndication and have a higher authority than you.
Here are a few of our favorite syndication sites:
Serving as a traditional content syndicator, Business 2 Community manually vets its contributors. Anyone can apply to become an author, but you must pass the strict guidelines before being published. Once approved, your syndicated content will be promoted to thousands of users on B2C’s ever-growing social network.
Focusing on social media related articles, you can apply to syndicate your posts on Social Media Today by creating a profile and submitting three links to relevant posts that you’ve written. Once approved, you’ll receive an email when your posts go live on the site.
Taking a bit of a different approach, Outbrain describes itself as a content recommendation system. It works by providing links to related content on major publications such as CNN and the Washington Post. It operates on a per-click bid model and self-service interface. If you have a budget dedicated to content syndication, Outbrain is an easy platform to get set-up on and start testing.
The Medium platform acts as a blogging portal and allows you to create a profile, publish articles and create entire publications for users to follow. It’s a good (free!) option for you to reach a broader audience; however, you don’t have as much control over the SEO implications so use with caution.
Pro Tip: Some sites are open to syndication but don’t outwardly advertise this. Therefore, before submitting any content, you must first confirm that the site accepts syndicated posts. To do this, browse through the articles on the site and look for an an attribution message such as, “originally appeared on” or “syndicated from.”
One of the biggest reasons for content syndication is to build your brand’s reputation, so begin your strategy by syndicating your best content. Content that has received a lot of positive feedback recently, new content that you feel is some of your best, and content that is evergreen. As you’re starting out, allow yourself to be a bit more aggressive with the amount of content you push out. Once you’ve received good responses and begin forming relationships with content syndication partners, you can start to be more selective in what you choose to syndicate.
The ultimate goal is to build relationships with syndication partners and syndicate content on an ongoing basis, whether it be weekly, monthly, or quarterly. This schedule will vary depending on your strategy. If your initial outreach to syndication partners is declined, don’t be discouraged! Continue creating topnotch content and building your audience, then apply again in a month.
Pro Tip: Wait at least a week after publishing your posts before pitching them. Let them get indexed by Google first so you can gain some SEO value on your own, then start your outreach to syndication partners.
In the eyes of the Google gods, duplicate content creates an issue. The algorithm will always show the version it thinks is most appropriate for the users, which very well may not be your original post but rather the republished content. Your goal is to gain exposure, not be outranked by your content syndication partners, especially if the republished posts are highly converting.
Here are two things you can do to avoid this issue and safely syndicate your content:
Using the rel=canonical tag links Google to the original source of the content. We strongly suggest that you create an agreement with your content syndication partner that they will add the rel=canonical tag to your republished post, which will tell Google where the original content is (your site). This tag not only attributes you as the original source, but also allows you to benefit from the links that the syndicated copy attracts.
Another option to consider when entering into an agreement with a content syndication partner is to NoIndex the content. This will tell Google not to Index this content, but still attribute the benefits from linking between articles. So while the republished content won’t show up in search results, you won’t lose any organic traffic. Plus, you’ll ensure that your original content won’t be outranked by your republished content.
Pro Tip: If your content syndication partner won’t agree to either of those two options, strongly consider against using that partner. Or in the very least, ask for a clear attribution and link back to your site.
The decision to syndicate your content is not one to be taken lightly. Finding the right opportunities and content syndication partners takes time, but if done right it can create a powerful tool for adding valuable content to the web, gaining exposure to a new audience, and building thought leadership within your industry.
Do you syndicate your blog content? What is your strategy? Let us know what has (or hasn’t) worked for you in the comments below!