Syndicating content without losing authority

In the world of digital marketing, content is very much king. Distributing your content via other websites will not only provide you with increased reach, exposure and traffic but it will also help support your brand and garner all-important links back to your site.

This syndication of content is all very good, however it is crucial not to forget the most important element of syndicating content, which is maintaining authority.

If your content is appearing all over the web, the search engines will see each piece of content (or page if you like) as a duplicate. When there are duplicate content issues, search engines “choose” which page to rank according to a number of factors, which include (but are not limited to) the one it spiders first, which page has the highest number of back links or where they place the most overall trust and authority. It is therefore not guaranteed that the original content on your site will be well ranked, despite the fact that you created it in the first place.

In fact, if your content is syndicated on very high profile sites or sites that update very regularly, the search engines may well spider the content on that site first which is likely to lead to the syndicated content ranking in favour of your website. All the hard work you have put into creating the great bit of content in the first place will reap benefits not for but for someone else.

You should therefore ensure that you maintain authority, or ownership if you like, for your content by following the advice below:

  • Always ask partners to include a link back to your site. This will not only maintain your authority for the content but it will also give you a lovely link to your site which will aid search engine rankings, especially if the site is of good quality and relevance, and you can incorporate a relevant search term into the anchor text
  • Ask your partners to include the rel=”canonical” tag on each page of syndicated content. A rel=”canonical” tag is a Meta tag that you place in the head section of code on each duplicated page of content, which will inform the search engines of the original page you want them to crawl, index and place weight on. You should therefore require that partner webmasters add this Meta Tag to the head section of each syndicated page of content

An alternative to the canonical tag is to use a robots no index Meta tag on each page of content or  request that partners disallow the page in their robots.txt file to tell the search engines not to index the page. However, I would advocate using the canonical tag as it directly informs the search engines of the original content source rather than the search engines having to figure this out. This could potentially result in the search engines giving slightly more weight and authority to your original content.

You could also consider syndicating partial articles or snippets as the search engines will seek to rank the full, most informative version (which would exist on your site.)  Or, consider releasing content on your site prior to syndicating. You would then only syndicate the content once the search engines have spidered and indexed the content on your site first.

By adhering to the above advice, you will take the necessary steps to safeguard your website so that you maintain authority for the content you are creating.

Do you have any experiences in the area of content syndication? Leave your comments below.

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