Content syndication is an important part of promoting your business online. Although most marketing tactics are linked to SEO, content syndication is not entirely focused on SEO. It’s about amplifying the network through which your brand reaches new audiences.
Through syndication, your content can expand and reach a wider audience than would be the case if your content distribution strategy were to just rely on your web properties alone. However, while content syndication works, (and we do recommend that you incorporate it in your lead generation strategy), some marketers report failure of their syndication efforts.
As with almost anything you venture into, there are pitfalls along the way that if you aren’t aware of, could lead to undesired results. In this article, we will tell you about content syndication pitfalls, and also give you tips for avoiding those pitfalls.
Pitfall # 1. Treating Online Content Syndication Like Print Or Broadcasting Syndication
Syndication is a word that has long been used in media circles. In the traditional sense, syndication involves licensing your content to other print or broadcasting services so that it is viewed or read in other markets. A newspaper item for instance that first appears on Aljazeera can be reprinted in full by newspapers anywhere in the world, as long as the syndicating paper and Aljazeera have a licensing deal.
That is all well and good, and it works; but only in the traditional sense of broadcasting and print media syndication.
When it comes to syndicating online, some issues arise. These include:
- Duplication of content, and, consequently,
- How this affects ranking
Let’s expound on these two issues a little bit:
Google describes duplicate content as “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar”. (Source google)
The reason why google doesn’t allow this is because Google’s algorithm is focused on providing value to users as opposed to just indexing content based on keywords. It’s not uncommon to find syndication meant to manipulate traffic and google is well aware of this.
Now, assuming google were to allow all URLs with the same content to rank, this would lead to a poor user experience, because people would see the same content duplicated over and over on the first page of search engine results.
There is of course a way to syndicate within Google’s guidelines. One of these is canonicalization, and we’ll discuss it in greater detail below.
In the meantime, your takeaway for this section should be: When you syndicate in the traditional sense, you will cause an overduplication of content. Google will only show one of those URLs, alongside other results with distinctive content for the searched topic. The ranking for the other URLs will suffer (including the original website if you haven’t canonicalized). If google suspects that syndication (or rather duplication) has been done maliciously, they may remove all concerned URLs from their search index. That is an outcome you do not want.
Pitfall #2: Excessive Use Of Filters
Another common mistake that could cause your content syndication to backfire is using too many filters on the publishing site.
What exactly are filters, you may wonder?
Content syndication involves publishing a copy of your content on another site, usually one with more traffic or more authority than your website. The main aim of syndicating is so that you can get the audience from a popular website to notice your brand and subsequently go to your website. It’s all about lead generation.
Filters come in because you don’t want people coming to your site if they have a low likelihood of converting with you. In other words, you filter so that you get only relevant, high quality traffic linking to your site from the syndicating site.
So, filters are parameters for qualifying leads, such as industry information, job titles, etc. (some of these parameters can also be questions).
You might be wondering why this is a bad thing. I mean after all, filters allow you to get high quality leads. But while this is the case, the use of filters begins to backfire when you use too many of them.
This is because there is an associated cost to syndicating content in that you will have to pay the syndicator per every lead your content generates on their site. When you have many filters, a lot of that traffic will be discarded, meaning that the syndicating site will not benefit at all.
The tighter your parameters/filters for lead qualification, the higher your cost per lead.
If you find yourself paying too high per lead, assess how this compares to the value you are getting for every lead, including the lifetime value, then make the decision.
The takeaway for you here: Filters are good because they help you get high quality leads. However, if the cost per lead is too high, consider using fewer filters. You can always do a parallel lead qualification exercise after you generate the traffic.
Pitfall # 3: Content That Doesn’t Add Value
Have you ever clicked on a link because you are interested in the title, only to read the first few lines of the content and think, “this isn’t it at all.”
This is just one example of what low quality content looks like.
People get put off when such things happen so don’t do that. What’s worse, they (traffic) begin to associate your brand with giving irrelevant information.
We understand that producing quality content is hard; it’s even harder to get clicks. However, it’s always better to get few high-quality leads that you can form a relationship with, than thousands who will not help your revenue or improve brand perception.
There really is no point in publishing content at all if it adds no value to those who consume it.
- Content should be well written
- Any visual content should include high quality graphics. Video production should look professional and images should be clear and relevant.
- Don’t write misleading titles.
Takeaway: Write valuable content and you will increase your lead volume gradually. Do the opposite and any content you syndicate may not give you the results you want. Authority websites will also not want to work with you because they have a reputation to maintain.
Bottom Line – Only Syndicate In a Way That Adds Value
Before we look at a few tips for syndicating the right way, we need to point out that content syndication shouldn’t be your main lead generation strategy.
As much as you can build your company by piggybacking on another more developed brand, your main focus should be on how to differentiate your brand or products. On the flip side, if you are the syndicator, consider the possibility that you could actually be devaluing your site if the same content can be found elsewhere.
So how can you add value? By syndicating in the right way using these tips:
1. Use Real Simple Syndication (RSS feeds)
When you syndicate content through an RSS feed,
- You eliminate duplication because the content only resides on the originator’s domain
- The feed displays on a relevant domain
- You give credit to the owners of the content
2. Use Other Channels
You can recontextualize your content by creating it in another format and sharing it in different channels. For example, let’s say you have written an article on a topic like content syndication. You can create video or image content of it and use distribution partners on channels such as Youtube and Instagram to reach new audiences.
Another great way is to actually use your distribution partners to share the article through email or as an gated content on their websites and social media.
3. Syndicate Curated Content
There is a lot of valuable content on the web. But most of it never gets discovered. A great way to add value to your audience and to your syndication partners is to find such content, curate it and then syndicate it on content curation engines such as StumbleUpon.
In this way,
- You will define yourself as someone who has expert-level knowledge on a topic
- You will give credit to the content owners, all while enhancing your reach
4. Use Canonical URLs
A Canonical URL is a way to signal to the search engine that the master copy for any syndicated content resides on a specified URL. This ensures that the original content owner gets all the SEO benefits from the content.
In addition to using a canonical URL, the syndication partner
- Should cite the content source
- Include links within the content that redirect traffic back to the source website