Content syndication is a crucial element of modern growth marketing. It has always been.
However, content syndication methodologies have changed over the years, and so have the content formats that fuel it.
Blog posts were the only form of content that was syndicated before. However, now, other types of content are syndicated too. And even though SEO has progressed over the years, syndication still remains important.
But what is content syndication? Why is it important for your SEO? What are its pros and cons? And how can you syndicate content successfully? These are some burning questions that you might have. This post will delve into all of these, and more.
What is content syndication?
Content syndication is the process of publishing your online content on a third-party platform.
The primary aim of content syndication is to reach a larger audience through the third-party website and direct that traffic to your website. It can also be used as a growth hacking strategy to connect with a wider audience and grow your brand awareness.
So how is content syndication done?
To start with, you need to have a solid strategy for content syndication in place. Some of the ways through which you can do content syndication are:
Republishing the entire content piece
Editing the content pieces to publish a shorter version of it
Posting an excerpt or summary from the original work
How is content syndication different from guest posting?
Content syndication is basically a way to republish your content. Guest posting, on the other hand, means that you publish original content on third-party sites.
The biggest advantage of content syndication over guest posting is that content syndication is extensible. Basically, you just need to write a blog post and publish it on your blog. You can then syndicate that blog post on various other blogs or syndication platforms.
Reposting allows you to take advantage of the same content multiple times. On the other hand, guest posts aren't scalable (unless you're publishing to a site with a great list of web content syndication partners).
After you write a guest post for a popular blog in your niche, the post will stay there. However, you won’t be able to republish it anywhere else. This makes content syndication more scalable than guest posting. After all, how many guest posts can you write every month?
Why syndicate content?
Content syndication can be thought of as a barter system. The third-party platform gets helpful, free content for its audience. At the same time, the content creator gets exposure to a wider audience.
But this exchange system is not new.
Even before digital marketing became popular, prominent media outlets published syndicated content on their website from freelancers and smaller publications. Content syndication meant that the freelancers and smaller publications got recognition for their work, and these big outlets didn't have to invest in the resources required to publish content.
But why do marketers use content syndication now, after all?
The publisher and the content creator do it for a variety of reasons that include getting more website traffic, generating leads, creating backlinks, etc.
“… an article that originally ran on my site and then was re-published by Lifehacker later on. I gained over 600 subscribers from the Lifehacker version, and I didn’t have to put in any additional work writing a new article.”
That’s the power of content syndication when done right.
Similarly, Buffer gets consistent traffic through web content syndication.
Buffer regularly syndicates content to some large websites like HuffPost, Fast Company, and Inc. to name a few. Its syndication journey is interesting because it started with guest posting.
Leo Widrich, Co-founder of Buffer, wrote around 150 guest posts to grow the exposure of his social media scheduling app, thereby creating an excellent writing portfolio.
Some of their guest posts became hot topics. These blog posts were an amazing example of Buffer's storytelling skills. Armed with these posts, Buffer built relationships with leading content syndicating blogs and started syndicating their content.
No. Plagiarism and content syndication are very different. Content is said to be plagiarized when you take original content from a website and republish it without giving attribution to the author of the content.
On the other hand, syndicated content clearly specifies where the original post was published with a statement like “Published originally on websitename on date”.
However, you’re walking on a thin line here. It’s also possible that your content can fall under content plagiarism if you don’t syndicate your content in the right manner.
Content syndication is also different from content curation. In the case of content curation, you compile content from different sources and organize it in a way that readers can benefit the most from.
The idea here is that you’ll bring content from a variety of different sources and add additional commentary on it. However, you'll always produce the core content irrespective of you or your vendors.
This is different from content syndication, where you can publish your original content on other publications or channels. Print/digital magazines and authoritative industry-related platforms are some common places where you can publish your syndicated content.
Benefits of content syndication
Brands that have syndicated their content have experienced great product coverage and an increase in review volumes.
In fact, brands selling consumer electronics experienced a 324% jump in reviews and a 26% jump in product coverage on syndicating their content.
But those aren’t the only benefits that you get from syndicating your content. Let’s dive into some of the many other benefits you get from content syndication.
1. Content exposure
Content syndication exposes your content to prospects, viewers, and readers who may have never come across your brand organically.
A simple infographic on an authoritative platform can get thousands of more eyeballs on your content than just posting on your site alone. You can also consistently syndicate posts on that platform and draw a new set of viewers to your content.
All in all, content syndication optimizes the visibility of the content that you've paid for or spent so much time creating.
Your syndicated content can be in the form of articles (or excerpts from them), eBooks, whitepapers, videos, etc. Syndication gives you the opportunity to reach more of your company's audiences through multichannel marketing and helps establish your status as a thought leader.
You can use many channels for free content distribution: social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube), content hubs (inbound, media), or blogs that focus on posts on topics similar to yours.
Alternatively, you can turn to syndication platforms like Medium that feature loads of syndicated posts.
Content syndication not only allows more people to follow your brand and content, but it also drives traffic. So your website, social media profiles, and other channels are able to reach a wider audience.
2. Lead generation
Content syndication is a fast and effective way to demonstrate thought leadership.
You can drive tangible revenue through each piece of content that syndicates gated content. The prospects have to fill in their details before downloading their content assets. This lead generation strategy through syndication will allow you to capture the prospect's information, which you can later use to target them to convert them into customers.
However, when tracking the leads you’ve acquired through syndicated content, it’s important to remember three things:
When someone signs up to download eBooks, webinars, or other types of content, they're interested in the topic, not your product.
This person has not downloaded content from your website and may not be familiar with your brand or service.
It's important to follow up with your leads on time, because if you take too long, they might not even remember your brand. Timing is everything.
3. Link generation
Content syndication sites can publish your content, whether it’s articles, videos, and graphics, and credit you for it by linking back to your content.
This helps in improving your website’s SEO, which, in turn, helps boost your rankings in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). As a result, your brand’s authority will increase online.
What’s more, the higher ranking and the syndicated posts can drive greater traffic to your website. This not only impacts your SEO positively but can also help you grow your revenues and sales.
Content syndication is also a very effective way to share assets with a wider audience, but it can carry some risks. Search engines don't like repeated content.
So when a search engine finds multiple pages with the same content, only one of them will be displayed on the results page. This is why it is important to always provide a link to the source in the syndicated content. These links tell the search engine that the post they’re crawling is a syndicated one.
Downsides of content syndication
Content syndication may have many positives. However, there are some downsides to it too. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Spammy sites can kill your reputation
Some spammy syndication sites may ruin your online reputation if you syndicate content there. Remember, when you syndicate your content, you attach your reputation to that of the other website.
So it's always better to do your research and know everything you can about the platform where you're syndicating content. You can check social media, forums like Reddit and Quora, or other sources to ensure that the platform is trustworthy and relevant to your business.
Get to know your syndication site before you publish on it to avoid spammy platforms.
2. Your lead generation might not be as expected
Since the leads you’ve acquired from third-party websites haven’t seen much of your brand, it may be harder to convert those in the way you can convert others. Open up higher-level offers that will convert them even if the viewer does not know your brand much.
3. Syndicated content might impact your SEO
When you syndicate content on a third-party site, it's possible that the syndicated content may outrank your original content in the SERPs.
“If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you'd prefer." – Google Search Central
Some marketers also believe that syndicated content might be treated as duplicate content by Google and may potentially lower your original page’s ranking because of it.
However, that's not so.
You can avoid duplicate content penalties on your website by clearly linking to the original post when syndicating the content. Also, it’s a good practice to wait for a few weeks or months before syndicating the content to give the search engine enough time to identify the original post.
How to successfully syndicate content
While content syndication might seem like the dream for every content marketer (who wouldn’t want more exposure, right?), it's imperative that you do it right.
Why? As we have seen above, syndicated content might be seen as duplicate content when not done right. This can damage your online reputation, impact your SEO, and so much more.
To avoid such situations, let's look at steps that you can use to syndicate content successfully.
1. Create link-worthy content
Content creation is at the center of your marketing. You can only syndicate content when you've created some. Plus, if you want to syndicate content on high authority platforms, you have to ensure that the content you produce is of very high quality.
Before you publish, focus on the content's:
Ask yourself, “What is my content syndication strategy?” and ensure that your content:
Fulfills the requirements of the syndication platforms
Stands out on those websites
Serves your goals
2. Reach out to the right platforms
Creating good content isn’t enough, you need to syndicate it on the right platforms, too. Observe publications your target audience reads.
When syndicating content, focus on partnering with platforms with a larger audience than your own. These partners have established themselves as industry leaders in your field. Their partnership will help you improve your brand reputation while developing your authority as a thought leader in the space.
After you find publications that'll help you reach your target audience, research them well to learn about their style, and the type of content they publish on their website.
Reach out to those sources for publishing opportunities with a highly customized outreach message to ask them about syndication opportunities.
3. Use appropriate methodologies for content syndication
To tell search engines that the content you’ve syndicated is not plagiarized, you should use the following methods:
The “rel=canonical” tag should be used on the URL of the syndicated content. This would effectively tell the search engines that the page they’re crawling is a syndicated one.
As a result, you can avoid the situation where the search engine may mistake the syndicated content as original and the original content is a copy of that.
Meta noindex tag
The meta noindex tag works similar to the rel=canonical tag, except for the fact that it fully removes the noindex page (the syndicated page) from indexing altogether.
Your content is discoverable on search engines only once you have indexed it. So, when you use the noindex tag, you’re telling the search engine not to index your syndicated page.
Your original content will be the only official content on the record. As a result, the syndicated content won’t compete with your original content.
The regular backlink is ideal for marketers and distributors who are not savvy coders or have strict code implementation standards.
It’s the least desired, but the most conducive option for this set of marketers.
In this method, your original post is backlinked from the syndicated post to allow only a snippet of your post to be syndicated. So the readers of the syndicated post have to click on the link to your website to access the entire post.
But the safest way to circumvent duplicate content is to opt for a rel=canonical or a meta noindex tag.
Note: You should have written confirmation that the syndication websites use these tags, as these are non-negotiable in most circumstances.
4. Track how well your content is performing
You need to evaluate and optimize your syndicated content to generate high-quality leads from it.
To understand lead quality, pay attention to:
Engagement rate: The number of leads your sales executives can connect or engage with.
Qualification rate: The leads that met the lead qualification criteria.
Conversion rate: The speed at which qualified prospects convert across the sales pipeline.
Win rate: The count of opportunities that convert to customers.
But there are certain secondary factors involved too. Brand lift and traffic can also indicate campaign success, even if it's not easy to identify ROI for those outcomes.
5. Evaluate and improve
No strategy works on the set-and-forget model. The intent of any campaign should be to evaluate and improve outcomes by refining your approach constantly.
The actual determining metric of success in content syndication is the return on investment (ROI) you get from content syndication. Keep track of it, experiment, and repeat with additional publications when successful. This can help you scale your syndication strategy.
Sites that allow content syndication
Here are some websites that allow content syndication.
Free content syndication is, of course, accessible in the sense that no money needs to be spent to syndicate the content.
However, you'll need to spend some time finding publications that are open to free content syndication. Examples of these sites include Business 2 Community, Lifehacker, HuffPost.
If a post uses words like, "originally appeared on," "originally published in," and "republished with permission," it usually implies that the content is syndicated.
Reach out to these blogs' editors and request them to syndicate your content with canonicals and references back to your site as we’ve discussed above.
Some syndication services are specifically designed for content syndication only and they charge you per click. However, these sites rely on overly clickbait headlines to generate those clicks.
The problem is that these headlines don't match the content, which produces astronomically high bounce rates – the opposite of what you want. Examples include Outbrain and Taboola.
This method is similar to free syndication, but you do not have to contact editors or negotiate the terms of canonical tags – you'll roll in the hay all by yourself.
LinkedIn and Medium are examples of these sites. You can publish your content on these platforms and include a line that says “originally published on” and link back to your original content. If you’ve written guest posts for other publications, you can syndicate those across these channels also.
Just remember Ann Hadley’s saying "our online words are our emissaries; they tell the world who we are" when forming syndication relationships.
So make sure your online content is syndicated on the right websites and in the right manner. If you fail to do so, you won’t be able to reap the many advantages of content syndication and it could potentially lead to more loss than gain.
With this post, you've got the tools, the facts, and the recommendations to get started.
Sumeet Anand is a B2B and SaaS marketing expert. He helps brands and businesses out there generate leads with his top-notch content strategies and is featured on various major media publications across the globe.
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