Syndication — the process of allowing different publications to republish an article — is clearly beneficial to the blogs, news sites, and email newsletters that seek out content to publish. From Huffington Post to Forbes to XOJane, republished material means proven content that their readers are likely to be interested in, which means more clicks and pageviews for them, and this often comes at no cost to the publisher.
The value of syndication from the original publisher’s point of view — whether that publisher is a brand, individual, or niche news site — is more complex.
Brands that have achieved results through a syndication strategy understandably sing its praises. Russ Mann is the CEO of Covario, a search marketing agency. He’s made his blog posts on the Covario blog available for syndication. As a result, some of Mann’s posts have appeared on top marketing blogs, including MediaPost and CMO.com. Since the push for syndication started in early June, nearly ten percent of the visitors to the Covario site have come through links included in the syndicated articles.
Syndicating content to the right sites can dramatically increase the reach of a good story and provide access to a whole new audience.
According to Rick Clancy, Covario’s senior director of public relations, the logic behind making posts available for republishing is simple: “Some publishers started to ask for this content from Russ (e.g., MediaPost, MarketingProfs, among others). We wanted to share our insights with digital/search marketing influencers and practitioners globally who may not come to our website directly. And we strive to have these influencers and marketers read this syndicated content.”
Some brands are reluctant to syndicate out of a concern that allowing their blog posts or articles to appear elsewhere may dilute their onsite efforts, especially in terms of search engine optimization. However, as long as there’s a window during which that content is only available from its original source, syndication can provide both increased traffic and improved inbound links to that original site. Syndicating content to the right sites can dramatically increase the reach of a good story and provide access to a whole new audience.
The issue of duplicate content and how search engines, such as Google, deal with multiple copies of the same article appearing on different websites has evolved. Search engines encourage syndicated versions of an article to link back to the site where an article originally appeared, in order to indicate which version should appear in search results. And, indeed, content marketers should ask for this link, perhaps at the end of an article, when negotiating with a syndication partner. Google also specifically recommends asking sites syndicating content to use the noindex meta tag in non-original versions to indicate that a certain version shouldn’t appear in search engine results.
This is also a good litmus test for brands: A syndication partner that does not want to link to the original post or comply with a request to use a noindex meta tag may simply be looking to juice up its own page views with free content.
Choosing the right content to syndicate is crucial. Covario focuses on sharing content on a theme crucial to the company’s marketing: “smarter search through smarter content.” In order to bring traffic to their website that is likely to be interested in Covario’s services, the company has made a point of syndicating content that, according to PR director Clancy, “is considered based on how strategic it is to our business, how relevant and timely it is to the audience we want to engage with, and how likely we believe it will interest the third-party publishers, editors, and bloggers.”
That’s key. They’re syndicating not necessarily to the biggest partners, but to the most targeted ones — sites like MediaPost and CMO.com — whose readers are likely to be interested in Russ Mann’s blog posts.
Once a company has gotten the benefit of publishing a given article, syndication can provide an opportunity to increase the return on the investment of initially producing that article. But it’s worth going through cross-checking a few items — timing, relevance of the partner, SEO — just to verify that syndication will continue rather than dilute the exposure that the brand is hoping for.