You know that feeling when you’ve come up with an awesome piece of content? You want as many people as possible to see it … and some websites are willing to publish a copy of it even if it has already been published elsewhere. That is content syndication.

A lot of marketers, however, worry about giving away their content to another site. Some have heard whispers about duplicate content penalties. Is syndication really a good idea?

man worry duplicate content

The truth is, there is no evidence that Google actively penalizes sites for duplicate content. It can, however, confuse search engines. Google doesn’t want to display the same exact content at multiple URLs on a SERP, so it has to pick which one is the original or the best. Syndicating content well means helping search engines prioritize the copies.

When content syndication is done well, your brand benefits from greater exposure, secondary publishers benefit from your great content, and Google benefits from clear direction for its search results.

The Benefits of Syndicating Content

If your content is published on multiple venues, more people will see it. That leads to some valuable benefits:

  • Lead generation—If the websites you syndicate with share your client demographic, you should see an increase in quality website traffic and leads.
  • Brand awareness and authority—The more people who see your brand name, the more you will be seen as a trusted authority.
  • Links—If your content was originally posted on your blog and you syndicate it to an online magazine, for example, you should get a byline and bio that links back to your site.

When NOT to Syndicate Content

Syndicated content can give your brand a boost, for sure, but it’s not always a good thing. Don’t syndicate when:

  • The quality of the content isn’t high—Of course, most of your content is very high-quality, because that’s a top priority (right?!), but sometimes you hit Publish on a timely piece that’s “good enough.” Make sure you’re only syndicating the very best.
  • The quality of the hosting website isn’t high—Sometimes the allure of syndication is so strong, marketers don’t vet their hosts, but sharing content with the wrong partner and/or audience won’t help. (Not to mention, low-quality links can actually hurt your SEO.)
  • The hosting websites is significantly smaller than your own—Unknown sites with few followers are not going to help your reputation. Unless you’re targeting a specific niche, focus on opportunities that grow your audience.

All opportunities are not created equal. Syndicating content is about expanding your brand, growing your audience, and building links that help—not damage—your SEO.

How to Syndicate Content on the Web

To get the maximum SEO benefit from content syndication, there are a few technical steps you should follow:

  1. Establish a primary location. Google isn’t against sharing content across multiple websites, but it does want to know where content originates.
  2. Syndicate appropriately with links on secondary locations. Secondary locations should either post a teaser and link to full content, or post full content with a proper attribution that still links to the original location.
  3. Tag appropriately. Whenever possible, use the rel-canonical tag to further identify primary and secondary locations.

To prevent any duplicate content concerns with search engines, links to the original source help considerably. Use of rel-canonical is the only guaranteed tool to prevent duplicate content red flags, but in our experience, most publishers will not agree to point the rel-canonical to the original content without payment.

Search engines understand that most duplicate content on the web is not spammy, so taking a little extra care to syndicate your work the right way will keep you free and clear from penalties and ranking confusion.

A Detailed Content Syndication Checklist

When done well, content syndication can expand your brand and boost your SEO. For full details on how to publish syndicated content on the web—and a very handy checklist—check out the latest addition to our SEO Best Practices Series: Content Syndication and SEO.