Ever wonder how some authors or brands seem to pop up everywhere, showcasing their ideas to thousands of readers who aren’t even aware of them? They’re using content syndication to republish their content on third-party sites.
Syndication gives them:
- Access to a larger audience than they normally have.
- Link authority and equity (the elusive backlink authority from high-quality sites).
- Brand recognition and mentions.
- Targeted lead-generation opportunities from that new audience.
Brian Honigman uses content syndication and credits it for improving his personal brand in search results over the long term:
Author James Clear is also a fan of content syndication and credits it with increasing visits to his site. from 1,000 visitors a few years ago to over 250,000 unique visitors per month today! He’s also used it to build an email list of over 100,000 people. That’s incredible!
…an article that originally ran on my site and then was re-published by Lifehacker later on (gained) over 600 subscribers from the Lifehacker version and I didn’t have to put in any additional work writing a new article.
It’s not just bloggers and independent consultants using content syndication with great success either. Salesify helped one of their customers use B2B content syndication to hit 99.5% of their lead generation target. PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, syndicated the content of their blog, The Catalyst through PR Newswire to drive more traffic to the main blog page. In a four-week test period, they generated an additional 19,995 visits to the blog, as well as enjoyed an uptick in media pick-up on blog post topics.
That’s the beauty of content syndication. You can leverage all the time and energy you spent writing the blog post without a lot of extra creative (read: writing) work.
Content syndication or guest posting? Which is better?
The answer’s simple: content syndication. Mainly because it’s a scalable way to leverage the same content multiple times. Think about it: you write a blog post and publish it. Then, you take the same post and republish it on one blog, two blogs, three + blogs. That’s over 6x more eyeballs on your content than if you had simply guest blogged once for just one of those blogs!
In fact, guest posting isn’t scalable at all, because once you publish the post, it sits there, waiting to be read. And unless that blog syndicates their content, your great post is only being read by a single audience.
Possible negative impacts of content syndication
While content syndication has a lot of upsides to it, there are a few negative impacts you’ll want to consider before jumping in.
Impact #1: It’s duplicate content, so what about search engine penalties?
Duplicate content is one of the biggest fears of content marketers whenever they publish anything, as they don’t want to incur the wrath of any search engines. Google discourages duplicate content and content syndication is exactly that: you’re taking the exact same blog post and republishing it on a third-party site.
But it’s incorrect to say that Google penalizes sites with duplicate content on them. There’s no way they could just blacklist all of the sites with duplicate content on them since even Matt Cutts (former head of the web spam team at Google) said that “25-30% of the web is duplicate content.“
What happens is that Google ‘discourages’ duplicate content by filtering search results to show the more desirable version of the content higher up in the search results. That’s it. It usually tries to display the original source of the content first, but that’s not always possible.
In simplistic terms, the Google algorithm groups the various post versions into a cluster, displays the “best” URL for the content, and then consolidates all the various signals it uses to rank pages to the one being shown.
To solve this, you can:
- Be consistent in your internal linking. That means always using the same link format for your site, be it the www / non-www version or the HTTP / HTTPS version. Pick one and stick with it.
- Tell Google about your preferred URL in your Google Webmasters account.
- Add a canonical tag to your preferred URL of your content. This helps Google differentiate between the various URLs your site uses to display the same content.
For example, the content on the product pages may be the same for both http://www.your-site.com/category and http://www.your-site.com/tag. Add in any filters and search box functionality you have on your site, and the chances duplicate content is displayed for different URLs goes up.
Impact #2: Outranking your original content
Depending on the site syndicating your content, be aware that it might just outrank your own site’s version. If you’re okay with that, then content syndication is for you. If you’re bothered by that, you’ll either want to pass on content syndication or ask the publishing site to use the noindex HTML tag on your post so search engines don’t index it for search. (This request will probably be ignored, since they’re allowing the syndicated content precisely TO get search engine traffic, but you can always ask.)
Impact #3: No email collection
Not being able to gather emails for your own newsletter in the syndicated content is the biggest turnoff for most people. You won’t be able to collect any email addresses of readers because the site owners won’t let you add an opt-in widget to their site.
To get around this, James Clear advises you to ask the site to keep all the original links in the article and then add his byline to the end of the post. That way you can add a link to a landing page where you ask people to sign up to your newsletter, instead of asking the site to put your email opt-in somewhere.
Here’s the byline:
And the landing page they’re taken to:
How to start syndicating your blog content
Step 1: Start guest posting
Wait a minute, didn’t you say that guest posting wasn’t as good as syndicating content? Yes I did, however in order to gain some traction for your syndication pitches, you have to a be a known quantity, otherwise the big sites and blogs won’t be interested in what you have to say.
Guest posting is a great way to establish yourself as a great writer and get your name out there.Step 1 in any #ContentSyndication process is to #guestpost. Click To Tweet
To find sites that accept guest posts, start with some quick searches on your niche or subject’s keyword + one of the following search strings:
- “guest post”
- “contributing writer”
- “write for us”
- “guest posting guidelines”
- “contributor guidelines”
- “guest posts wanted”
Once you’ve got a few guest posts published, you’ll have some samples you can use when you reach out to the blogs for syndication of your content.
Step 2: Find out if your target sites accept syndicated content
Before you can offer your content for syndication to your target sites, you’ve got to see if they even accept syndicated content. To start, navigate to a few posts on your target sites and see if they’re all originally published there or if there’s an attribution message.
An attribution message on the post is a sign to you they accept syndicated posts. Look for phrases like “This post originally appeared on [site name].“
This tells you the site is open to syndication, so you’ll want to add this to your short list of sites to pitch.
Step 2a: Find sites through a content syndication network
A content syndication network gets your content out to other sites without having to reach out to the sites directly. A syndication network focuses specifically on promoting other content like blog posts on their own site. You’ve probably even clicked on a few “related posts” links after reading something online, right? Well, that’s a syndication network right there.
Some of the major content syndication networks out there include: Outbrain, Zemanta, SimpleReach, and Taboola. You can apply to have your content syndicate through them, or you can look at the case studies on their websites to find some big companies out there using them. They may be open to being pitched directly by authors, but be prepared for a lot of rejection. One reason they’re using the network is that they want to cut down on pitches.
Step 3: Pitch the right sites and pitch well
To get his content out in front of other like-minded readers, James Clear focused on pitching articles to sites that are a good fit for that audience. E.g. He writes about “how we can live better”, so a site like Lifehacker.com fits well for him.
It’s critical to understand the type of content the site runs and then only send them posts that are a perfect fit. You want to make it as easy as possible for the editor to say “yes!” to your pitch.Make it as easy as possible for any editor to say 'Yes!' to your pitch. Click To Tweet
Your pitch email
Once you’ve identified the right sites, what should you include in your email?
- Keep the email short and to the point. Editors are busy and often field a ton of emails from prospective writers.
- Mention some of the sites you’ve written for, including your guest posts and syndicated posts.
- State that you noticed a syndicated post on the blog.
Pitch email example 1: A straight-up pitch asking to syndicate one of your posts
Dear [editor name],
My name is [your name] and I wrote for [publication/site names] about [subjects/topics].
I’m writing to ask if [publication/site name] syndicates content from other relevant sources online. If I sent you a post/article that was relevant to your audience, would you consider syndicating it?
Let me know what you think and have a great week.
Pitch email example 2: Piggy backing on an existing syndicated post with one of your own
Hi [editor’s name].
I noticed you published a post from [other author’s name] and saw that it really did well for you. Congrats! [or other type of celebratory comment]
I figured since that post did so well for you, you might want to check out this post I wrote that covers a similar angle. [Give quick summary of the post.] I really think this is something your audience would love too.
You can check it out live on the [blog name] blog and if it’s a fit, I’d be happy to have you republish it.
Let me know what you think and have a great week.
Step 4: SEO-proof your syndicated post
We’ve already talked about how there’s no actual search engine “penalty” for duplicate content, but rather, how it’s more of a downgrade of your original content URL. There are two ways to avoid it.
- Canonical tags and links: Ask the publishing site to add the rel=canonical tag to the post. This tells Google where the original source of the content is and helps it to decide which version to display when it runs into duplicate content instances. You’ll be tagged as the original source of the content, as well as benefit from all the links the syndicated copy attracts.
- Noindex tags and links: Ask the publishing site to add a noindex tag to the syndicated post. Anything tagged noindex is skipped by search engine bots and don’t show up in search engine results. You’re essentially removing the syndicated post copy from the engine’s index. This ensures the original content won’t get outranked by the syndicated copy and still gives you organic search engine traffic.
It’s always important to ask the publishing site if they’ll add these two tags to your post. If they only allow you one, go for the canonical tag, as Google is better at interpreting the rel=canonical tag (the noindex one can be partially or fully followed by search engines).
If they won’t do either, ask for a clear attribution for you and a backlink to your site (or an author byline like James Clear does).
Step 5: Set up a regular content syndication schedule
To maximize your content syndication strategy, you’ll want to publish with sites more than once. It’ll take more than just one appearance to gain traction and name recognition. So get writing for them on a regular basis by asking to do so.
When you do ask, lay out exactly what you’re asking them to do and why it would work for them. Here’s an example of an outreach email from Buffer, offering to send over their best content once a week:
Image credit: Buffer blog
Step 6: Only syndicate your best content
Finally, once you’ve set up a relationship with a publisher and are sending them regular content to syndicate, it’s time to remember to only syndicate your best content. Sure, you take the time to produce quality writing all the time, but sometimes your posts are for certain audiences only or are just for your own blog (like a press release or product announcement).
Before syndicating your content, you’ve got to make sure your posts are high quality, go deep enough into the subject to be useful, and be relevant to your readers — only then will you have enough content authority. After all, when you send people back to your business blog, you want to make sure they continue to enjoy the content there too. When you focus on producing good content all the time, it makes it easier to choose the posts to syndicate and makes it more likely your syndication pitches are accepted.No need to syndicate *every* post, just your best & most valuable. Click To Tweet
A good idea is to make content syndication a small part of your overall content marketing mix. No need to syndicate every post, but add it in to your mix to get the word out. Curata advises brands to syndicate only 10% of their content, leaving the majority for your own blog. They recommend a:
- 65% content creation
- 25% content curation
- 10% content syndication
Ready to try content syndication?
Once you’ve got a good schedule of blogging going on at your business blog and you’re producing enough original content, think about adding content syndication to the mix. It can be a good way to amplify your message, get your name or brand out there, and get your content in front of new audiences.
Content syndication success stories
Still not convinced that content syndication is for your business? Check out these success stories to see how it works for these people, brands, and companies.
Anna Crowe, Search Engine Journal
Image credit: SEJ
Anna was curious to find new ways to gain more engagement on her old SEJ articles. She turned to content syndication on LinkedIn and Medium. She was able to increase pageviews of her SEJ articles by 34% in one month, getting nearly the content in front of 1,300 new readers. Not only that, but she found that readership went up over time, so that the articles were being shared 10X more after 28 days than upon initial publication.
The social media company has been a big believer in blogging in general, which eventually evolved into guest blogging and content syndication. Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer, undertook an aggressive blogging and guest blogging schedule when the company first started. Over a nine-month he’d written 150 guest blog posts!
After that, they started syndicating the content and have built relationships with the Huffington Post, Fast Company, INC, The Next Web, and more. During this period of aggressive growth and syndication, Buffer was able to generate nearly 1,000 sales conversions for their software.
Trae Bodge, the Smart Shopping Expert
When launching her own freelancing business, Trae produced her own original content and then used syndication to amplify it. “The fact that my articles have been picked up by these major news sites has made a significant impact,” she told Micheal Schreiber at CMI. “As I’ve invested in content and SEO it’s been particularly impressive to see my own little site’s domain authority grow along with organic traffic.”
Chris used content syndication for a single article on his blog and took it for a tour around the interwebs. It popped up on Buffer, Medium, and Fast Company. It was also revised and revamped on Trello’s blog, and he was interviewed heavily for it on a number of news outlets.
With this single article, Chris got his great writing seen by thousands of people, sent valuable traffic back to his website and landed him new clients, and built his brand out.