What is Content Syndication & How Does it Impact SEO?

content syndication best practices

When it comes to content, website owners are often faced one or both of these common problems:

  • Not having enough content for their website
  • Not having enough reach for content to achieve goals

While SEO is a great long-term strategy for driving website traffic, it shouldn’t be the only strategy you try to get in front of new audiences.

Content syndication can be a great way to maximize existing content assets while reaching more people.

What is Content Syndication?

Here’s the most basic content syndication definition:

Content syndication is a method of republishing existing content on other websites in order to reach a broader audience.

Though we’ll focus on text-based content in this discussion of how content syndication affects SEO, any type of digital content can be syndicated: including infographics and videos. According to Search Engine Journal, syndicated content may involve content published in its entirety, articles edited and shortened, or excerpts of an article.

Content syndication benefits both parties: the website where it’s syndicated gets fresh content, while the person/brand behind the original content gets exposure to a new audience.

All that said, content syndication may not be the best strategy to gain referral traffic. If you’re syndicating content to a website that has greater domain authority than you, it may actually outrank your original article.

But before drawing a hasty conclusion about content syndication, let’s take a deeper look at the implications of content syndication for SEO.

Does Content Syndication Impact SEO?

Since content syndication is related to duplicate content, let’s defer to what Google has to say on the topic:

“Syndicate carefully. 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. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article.”

Google admits that 30% of content is duplicate content, but they don't penalize it unless it’s done with malicious intent.

They explain, “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”

According to Search Engine Journal, “While fear over “duplicate content” penalties is exaggerated in the case of syndication, it’s also not the best SEO strategy [because of the potential for one website to outrank another].”

The key to success? Weighing the pros and cons of syndicating content on any potential outlet.

Still feeling wary? Perhaps this will help: Buffer and Content Marketing Institute have both experienced steady growth in traffic in tandem with a content syndication strategy.

The ideal way to proceed with content syndication is when the author grants permission for others to use their articles and the website gives proper attribution to the author and source.

Overwhelmed by SEO? Try a guided approach.

Content Syndication Best Practices

Now that you understand the answer to the question, “What is content syndication?” and its potential impact on SEO, here are some best practices to keep in mind if you plan to move forward with this strategy:

1.    Don’t Give the Other Website All the (SEO) Credit

As mentioned, one major SEO risk with content syndication is the possibility that another website will rank higher and be credited for your work. To mend this, Elegant Themes suggests having an agreement with the website where you're submitting the article that involves adding a rel=canonical tag that points to the original source of the syndicated content.

You can also incorporate a NoIndex tag to prevent syndicated content from being indexed, to begin with.

2. Find the Right Publishing Partner

If you're an author looking for a larger audience, the most important first step is to find the ideal outlet to publish your content. Theme Circle offers a sortable list of over 5000+ outlets looking for guest blog posts. Just make sure that you’re clear in your pitch that you’re specifically looking for a content syndication partnership.

Keep your expectations in line: if you’re a new brand, expect to start small and build your way up the ranks.

3. Syndicate Content on Multiple Platforms

Content syndication isn’t just about publishing on other websites. The following outlets can also be worth exploring as part of a complete content distribution strategy:

  • LinkedIn’s publishing platform can be a great venue to share your expertise and take advantage of existing reach. According to LinkedIn’s guidelines, LinkedIn can distribute and annotate any content you share. What’s great about LinkedIn is that it shows up on search engine results pages (SERPs), though it’s unlikely to outrank your website for the same content.
  • Medium is an online publishing platform founded by Evan Williams, who was chairman & CEO of Twitter (and also co-founded Blogger). Medium collects content and sends personalized recommendations to subscribers based on previous articles they've read. Medium offers a (somewhat outdated) WordPress plugin that allows you to automatically post your blog entries to your Medium profile.
  • Quora is another place to share your content. It is the most popular question and answer site online. To find success with content syndication, just search for topics related to your content and answer questions using excerpts from your content, with a link back to your website.
  • Reddit is known as “the front page of the internet”. It is one of the most diverse networks on the internet and has different subreddits (or forum groups) where people discuss their interests. You can think of Reddit as the uncensored version of Quora. Quora has a lot of restrictions, while Reddit’s focus is content and community.
  • For anything WordPress related, you should also try syndicating content to LinkWP or ManageWP.org. Another popular outlet for syndicating B2B content is Business2Community.

Ideally, you’ll test out a few of these platforms and eventually settle on the ones that give you the best return for your time investment. Not every option will work for every person or brand.

4. Pitch Perfect

Some of the biggest content syndication sites are picky, and they also receive tons of requests, so make sure to send out your best content in order to stand out. Read the site’s guidelines and create a pitch that is perfectly tailored to their site.

If your ideal outlet won’t budge when it comes to syndicating content, consider Andy Crestodina’s tips for creating new variations of existing original content to submit instead.

How to Syndicate Content from Other Outlets

If you’re interested in syndicating content to your website, here’s how to get started:

Use WordPress Plugins

If you’re looking to flesh out your website’s content, there are several plugins available that automatically syndicate content from other websites to your blog. These plugins usually help you get content from Atom or RSS feeds to publish to your site. You can add as many websites as you want and even set up intervals for when content will be published.

Among available content syndication plugins, one worth mentioning is CyberSyn. It is a powerful plugin that can import full-text articles, add custom footers to be displayed on your site, embed videos, and generate featured images/thumbnails for posts. It can also translate syndicated articles to/from over 100 different languages.

Additional content syndication plugins include FeedWordPress, WP Syndicate, and WP RSS Aggregator. There are also plugins that allow you to republish your content from your blog to another website, such as the Medium plugin mentioned previously.

Manually Syndicate Content

If you want to add a more personal touch to your posts, you can opt to manually syndicate content, although this is definitely a more tedious option. To procure a collection of content to pull from, you can sign up for an online feed aggregator like Feedly, which allows you to add content from RSS feeds you like and compile them into one place.

Final Thoughts: What is Content Syndication & How Does it Impact SEO?

Syndicating content can be a great content promotion solution for websites that need content to publish and brands who want to expand their reach. By properly tagging content to direct Google to the original version (or stopping it from being indexed in the first place), you shouldn’t experience any negative SEO side effects.

What other questions do you have about content syndication? We’d love to help you out! Reach out and let's talk SEO.

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Maddy Osman

Maddy Osman

Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. Learn more about her process and experience on her website, www.The-Blogsmith.com and read her latest articles on Twitter: @MaddyOsman.