Not long ago, Google reminded marketers that syndicating their content to multiple sites around the web for the sake of getting backlinks could lead to lost search engine rankings, due to both spammy linking activity and to spreading low-value, duplicate content. It didn’t take long before every publisher on the web was terrified of getting slapped with a duplicate content penalty. Many gave up syndication altogether.
But this reaction was overkill. Syndication in itself is not a bad thing, and Google has even stated that it is not specifically against syndication. Even top blogs like Lifehacker, The Huffington Post and Medium allow for syndicated content. But it has to be done right. Here are five ways to syndicate your blog content without trashing your SEO.
1. Don’t Pay Cheap SEOs for Content Distribution and Links
First, steer clear of spammy neighborhoods. Any back alley SEO or shoestring marketing agency can promise you the world for 50 bucks. But these cheap syndication/backlink packages are always done at scale in spammy ways. They might get you a quick traffic boost, but in the end they will lead to penalties and should therefore be avoided like the plague.
If you’re going to hire an agency to syndicate your content, stick with reputable agencies that will only distribute to top industry blogs and reputable media sites.
2. Only Submit High-Quality Content
Pay attention to the quality of your content. If you’re outsourcing content creation, don’t let anything go out the door without your approval. Make sure every post offers unique, in-depth content that is well-written and provides value for the reader. Over-optimized, keyword-stuffed or spun text is a dead giveaway to search engines that your content is only being syndicated in the hopes of acquiring links at scale. That will lead to penalties and lost traffic down the road.
3. Use Nofollow Links or Canonical Tags
One of the best ways to prove to search engines that you aren’t trying to game the system is to simply insert nofollow tags on the links leading back to your site. Or you can use canonical tags to simply point to the post on your blog as the original source. If you’re posting to high-quality blogs, then you’ll still get plenty of referral traffic back to your site to expand your audience.
4. Keep It Relevant and Avoid Spam Sites
Make sure that your content only goes out to sites that are relevant to your business. If the syndication network is blindly submitting your content to every site that will take it, you could end up being seen as a spammer, and that will be bad both for you and for the site that allows your guest content to be published.
Relevance is one of the most important factors when it comes to guest posts and syndicated content. The content must be relevant to the site that hosts it. It must speak to their audience and not be off-topic. Any links in the content should also be relevant to the topic at hand, and the sites that those links point to should be related in some way to that topic as well.
Ask the syndication network to submit a list of all the sites to which they are spreading your content. Manually follow up to check out those sites and verify that they are legit sites with quality content and engaged audiences.
5. Follow Up and Engage These New Audiences
You might also want to subscribe to the comment sections on these sites so that you receive notifications whenever readers comment on your post. Engaging those readers will help drive referral traffic back to your site, and the additional content that gets added to the page will be a positive signal to search engines that the post is connecting with readers and is providing value to them.
There’s nothing to be afraid of when it comes to syndicating your content to get in front of new audiences. As long as you’re providing valuable content, engaging real humans with that content, following the rules and aren’t trying to just game the search engines for link juice, you shouldn’t have to worry about duplicate content penalties.