Duplicate vs. Syndicate Content:Decoding How Google Looks at It & What Your Approach Should Be
We all know by now that Google does not welcome duplicate content. Since it initiated the first crackdown on replicated sites, Google has certainly changed the way content is written and presented on the web.
But, what do you do with the sister of duplication, syndication?
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t necessarily address the issue of syndication as well as they do duplication. With content syndication on the rise, it’s hard to see what to do next.
Syndication, according to Curata, accounts for more than 82% of content online from marketers. That’s pretty massive, if you think about it.
So, with the risk of other sites syndicating your content or vice-versa, how do you avoid the duplicate issues that Google is weeding out and still create the site content you need?
First, Let’s Talk Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is any block of content that matches or is similar to other domains or even on the same domain, according to Google. The content does not have to be 100% similar, but it is “appreciably” similar.
When content is duplicated maliciously to raise a search engine rank, then Google will flag it. There are, according to Google, instances where copied content is not malicious. These include forums, store items, linked items, and printer-only versions of website pages.
Duplicate content is not any content on any other site. After all, if you were to do a Google search right now for a news story, you might find the exact story on several high-profile news sites. So, how can they republish the same content and not be dinged for having duplicate content?
This is syndicated content. Syndicated content isn’t anything new; in fact, it’s been around for decades. It was something newspapers did long before Google, and the internet, even had a name.
So, What is Syndicated Content?
Syndicated content is commonly confused with spinning. It is not a form of spinning.
Spinning, according to Wikipedia, was an old SEO tactic where optimizers would post one unique version of a relevant article, then have it rewritten slightly to publish on article directories, websites, or other sites where they were working on developing backlinks. Phrases or sentences were replaced, sometimes it was just a few words. The point of spinning, however, was to explicitly take a single article and rewrite it as many times as possible to spread it among multiple websites.
This is not syndication.
Syndicated content is when a third-party website pushes an article. This content can be published in link format, snipped, full content or even a thumbnail.
Syndicated content doesn’t violate Private Label Rights (PLR) either. Instead, these syndication sites are not taking credit for the article. They are still citing the original author and giving them credit. The original author maintains ownership over their work, and they are just providing that site a creative license to repost the content.
You’ve Already Experienced Syndicated Content
If you like to troll the latest news websites and informative articles (i.e. Forbes, Entrepreneur, and even CNN), then you have already seen syndicated content and may have already clicked on some of it.
Usually, it is at the bottom of an article you’re reading and will say “Related Posts.” Here you find posts that are similar to what you’ve just read but published on other sites. They may have a snippet or just a thumbnail with the title.
These websites are syndicating each other’s content and helping each site branch out and get more viewers.
See here on CNN.
After reading an article, you are presented with paid content and syndicated articles. There is a picture, the title, and the name of the website where the article is hosted.
Syndicated Content is Not Guest Posting
Syndicated content is often confused with guest posting, but these are two different beasts entirely.
Guest posting, according to Eric Enge, is when you create original content to be published on a third-party website. You write this content and the site’s owner posts it.
However, the post you create for that website is for that site only; it’s not republished or shared by other sites.
Syndicated content is already published on your site — not a third party’s site. Then, it is shared (with your permission) on another site.
Even Google has made it clear that you must syndicate carefully. That is because if you are going to allow other sites to syndicate or you’re going to syndicate your own content, you need to make sure it is properly attributed to avoid any duplicate flags.
Press Release Distribution Syndication: Good or Bad?
It used to work, but not anymore.
One of the biggest no-no’s today in syndication is PR distribution or online press release networks.
What…wait? Press release sites?
Yes, you heard right.
These sites were big back in the day — and if you’ve been in the industry for awhile, you probably used them once or twice.
Back a few years ago, you would write a press release and then syndicate it with as many of these PR websites that you could find. They would then share and syndicate with other sites. It was all part of an SEO strategy.
That is until Panda struck down many sites.
For actual proof, check out the study I did this October with BuzzSumo and Tim Grice about why and how press release syndication is a no-go today:
Why PR Sites are a No-No For SEO
Press release sites are not subject to the same measures of QA, according to a Search Engine Watch article. They allow anyone to write about anything, which means there is little to no authority from more than half of the PRs released on the website itself.
Bloggers and marketers will flock to these sites to create press releases for just about anything and assume it is an excellent way to build links. These are old school methods.
If you’re using them, just say no.
If you want a real press release, then pitch your idea to a journalist and have them link to your website directly. No more using poor quality PR sites to get your stuff out there.
How Does Google See Syndicated Content?
Google itself will tell you how they see syndicated content. Specifically, they state that they will show the version that they think is most appropriate for your viewers on a search engine results page. That may, however, not be your original version or the version you prefer to show up.
So, keep that in mind when syndicating and strategizing your goals for syndication.
8 Steps to Deploying a Successful Syndication Strategy
Having your content syndicated without being flagged as the duplicate content is no longer a concern.
However, now you need to tackle the task of syndicating your content the right way — and engaging in the best practices so that your content shows up with sites you want it to.
1. Select the Right Partners for Syndication
There are several big names out there for publishing your syndicated content. These sites promote your content and then share the revenue with the publisher, encouraging them to syndicate. While the costs are small, you still want to be wary about which syndication websites you use.
Quicksprout has suggested several top favorites, which include:
These companies are relatively affordable, and each has their own perks and drawbacks. When you are analyzing which sites you want to partner with, consider how much it will cost and their track record.
2. Select the Right Posts for Syndication
You aren’t syndicating your entire website here.
Instead, you are selecting titles that are worthy of syndication.
This means headlines that are attention-grabbing, stories that are interesting to read, and ones that are already successful on your website. If the posts have gotten plenty of traction on social media, then they are posts you should syndicate. If they’ve fallen flat, well, leave them out.
3. Establish Your Own Website First
You shouldn’t even look into syndication unless your site is established, according to Amanda DiSilvestro on Search Engine Journal.
Your website must be published, and you need to create some goals for your site. Also, you must have frequently posted high-quality content.
A site with thin content, duplicate content, or poor quality will never benefit from content syndication networks.
4. Use Canonical Attributes
This is an anchor tag that will link back to your original article.
According to the pros at Moz, the tag is part of the header on a web page, and it looks like the following:
This tells the search engine that your page should be treated as though it was a copy of the URL to YourWebsite.com. All of the link and content metrics the search engine picks up then will flow back to the original URL (i.e. your site).
5. Request a Direct Attribution
If the other site does not allow you to use traditional attribution, then you will need a direct attribution link. This is a link you receive from the syndicated copy that links to the original article (not your website’s homepage).
This should signal to Google that it is not the original version. However, it is not always fail-proof.
Another choice is to have the syndication network NoIndex their version of your article. This will tell Google and other search engines to keep the syndicated version out of their index and then it will resolve any questions about duplicate content in the process.
7. Syndicate Regularly
To get the most out of content syndication, Neil Patel suggests that you continue the strategy.
Once one publisher accepts your syndication, he suggests setting up a regular arrangement with them. This will ensure that your content is republished each month and changed out as you create new submissions.
Also, he states that the more often you syndicate, the more likely you can reach the bigger publishers.
8. Check for Duplicate Content
Is Good Syndication Worth It?
Yes, it can be.
As long as you get syndicated by websites that have a higher authority than your site, you can gain exposure to their audience and give your site a boost in visitors. Also, you’ll increase your own reputation as more visitors and sites pick up your content.
Lastly, when a higher ranking site syndicates your content, you get to piggyback (in a way) on their success.
Remember, Great Syndication Starts with Great Writing
It isn’t enough to get your content out there on the bigger syndication networks. You have to have excellent writing to even be accepted, let alone get any traction.
If you do not have a popular website or blog, start building that first. Work on creating and publishing high-quality content that is viral-worthy. If your content isn’t anything worthwhile to read or all you have is a great headline with poor content delivery, you won’t get far with content syndication.
If you have great ideas for worthwhile headlines, but you don’t know how to put them down on paper properly, then you need to find your perfect copywriter to help make that happen.