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How to Syndicate Content Without Getting Dinged in Search

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Blogs are like tattoos: you can’t stop at one. You think you can, but there’s an irresistible pull toward yet another one. So you hire someone whose primary job is to focus on content. Then you start adding blogs. It’s easy to do, really. Once you have the systems in place to create high-quality content for one blog, it’s really just a matter of design and scheduling to create another.

Each of our three company blogs has a different target persona, so we’re writing to different audiences. But we’re a sales strategy company, and all our target personas need to read some of the sales strategy we discuss, so what do we do?

We syndicate some of our content to reach the widest audience.

What is Syndication?

Syndication is, quite simply, the act of copying a blog post from one portal to another.

Why Would Syndication Tick off Google?

Google loathes duplicate content. I can’t say that I blame them, either. Their algorithm is designed to prevent a user from seeing exactly the same content in every search result for their given keyword. As a user, I certainly appreciate that. Don’t you? When I’m searching for a keyword, I definitely want to see as many different angles to help me answer whatever query I had.

Syndication, especially on HubSpot, is very simple technically. In fact, we recently discussed the step-by-step actions you need to take within a HubSpot blog to “disallow” (or disable) a syndicated piece from being indexed by search engines.

But you need to be careful with syndication if you’re not following these preventative measures. Why?

Google Selects the Most Relevant Version of Your Content

And you don’t get to help them decide which version is more relevant. Even when you follow all the rules, your preferred version might not be the one Google’s algorithm finds most relevant.

That should be fine when you’re syndicating within your own domain, or even within your own company (because you can’t choose a favorite target persona, can you?), but it means you should not syndicate posts you’ve written elsewhere (say, on the HubSpot blog, for example). If you’re writing content outside your own blog, you’re doing it for other reasons.

You’re trying to build your personal brand (“Look! I know things about this topic!”), your company’s brand (“I’ll write something so interesting that the readers of another blog can’t help but click over to read mine!”), or you’re doing a professional colleague a favor (“If I write something for them, maybe they’ll write something for me down the line”).

But the goodwill dissipates if you try to syndicate. You can’t ask robots.txt on your site to ignore something on someone else’s site (if that worked, the internet would be a very different place), so you run the risk of angering the Google gods, which could bring a Google penalty on either your site or the site you “copied with malicious intent” from.

What to do Instead of Ticking Off Google if You Want to Bring Attention to Something You’ve Written on Someone Else’s Blog

Write a recap. Link to the original article. “I wrote an article on HubSpot about not pissing off Google,” mine could start. With a few more words, an image, and a call-to-action, I’ve linked to my article (which also gives me internet cred, “Hey! Another company realizes I know things!”) and created an easy blog post on my own site.

Guest posting on another company’s blog (ahem, like this one!) is a really wonderful way to build credibility and goodwill among another audience. So, you want to give them your very best content (at least as good as something you’d publish on your own blog!). A short recap on your own blog, with a link to your guest post accomplishes two things:

  1. Gives your audience a chance to see a blog they might not be familiar with
  2. Makes Google happy (because the more backlinks a site has, the more credibility a site has, and your link definitely counts as a backlink)

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a win-win situation if I’ve ever seen one.

Okay, so, we’ve talked about why you shouldn’t syndicate content you’ve written on someone else’s blog, but now, let’s talk about how to syndicate your content across your different portals.

Two Ways to Safely Syndicate Content

There are two ways to go about doing this the right way: 

1) rel=canonical

Add a rel=canonical tag on the new page with your article, and point that tag back to the original article on your site. This gives Google a heads up that the syndicated copy is just a copy, and that you are the original publisher. All links to the syndicated copy will give the benefit of the original article.

2) NoIndex

The second best choice is to NoIndex the copy of the article. This tells Google to keep the syndicated copy out of its index, but it will still pass the valuable “link juice” between articles (unlike NoIndex’s evil cousin, NoFollow). Again, this process is one we covered on our own blog.

If you want to learn more about how creating content using inbound marketing strategies can help your business start generating leads, read our free ebook: Inbound Marketing 101.

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