Back in 1996, Bill Gates wrote an article entitled “Content is King”. He was referring to any type of content that could be published on the internet, from articles to videos and infographics. But his views are as relevant today as they were in 1996. One point that he made in that article which really stands out was:
“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”
In 2021, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed by content – on social media, on websites, and through our mobile devices. So it's now more important than ever to make your content stand out and also to get it out to the largest possible audience.
The way we do business, and connect with customers, has changed dramatically in recent years, and certainly since 1996. The advent of technology that allows us to video call or hold virtual meetings is part of these overall changes. Website optimization is one crucial step forward in this ever-evolving world, but there are other factors.
Our primary target is to connect our businesses (of any type) with our target demographics. And we want to maximize the amount of customers we retain and attract. Part of doing that is ensuring as many people as possible read our content and then go to our website or app. This can cover any type of content, including creating the best online learning content.
One way of doing this is through content syndication. But what exactly does that mean? How do we do it and what does it mean for our businesses?
What is Content Syndication?
Content syndication is getting previously published content reproduced on other websites. This offers benefits to both the content creator and the other site. It exposes the creator's content to a wider audience, potentially attracting new customers. And the site that publishes the syndicated content gets fresh and interesting content that helps raise their visibility.
To be properly syndicated, the reproduced content should highlight the fact that the article, infographic, etc. is also published on another website. That highlight should give the relevant information and include a link to where the content was originally published. It might also give credit to the original author/creator. To give an example:
This article originally appeared on memberpress.com’s blog:
If you decide to syndicate content on your membership site's blog, it's crucial you give attribution, not only as a matter of copyright and good etiquette, but also to avoid it being labelled as duplicate content.
The Dangers of Duplicate Content
Search engines, and especially Google, don't like duplicate content. The algorithms and bots used by search engines view duplicate content as a form of plagiarism, and the SEO ranking of any page they deem duplicated will suffer as a result. This can even happen when you create two similar domains with identical content.
There are several scenarios where duplicated content can occur:
- Web pages provided for printing
- Ecommerce stores where products have more than one linked URL
- Forums or other channels where pages are optimized for access by mobile devices
While most duplicated content happens unintentionally, there are cases where businesses deliberately duplicate some content to try and manipulate search engine rankings in their favor. If Google thinks this is happening, it may penalize the site in its rankings or, in some cases, remove that site from search results altogether.
How to Avoid Duplicate Content Issues
To ensure that syndicated content is not labelled as duplicate within your own domains and platforms, you need to do something called canonicalization. This is a process where you consolidate either more than one URL that leads to the same content or different pages with identical content.
The process involves either you or Google choosing one specific URL as the canonical version – the one to be primarily crawled by their search bots – and the other URLs as duplicates that will be crawled less often if at all. There are a number of reasons why you want your results to focus on that single canonical URL:
- You may want only one URL to appear in searches, and for people to access products and services via that one URL.
- If your content is syndicated elsewhere, you want any links from other pages to go direct to your preferred URL.
- Better metrics. With duplicated URLs, you don't get an ideal snapshot of how a particular product is performing.
- Reduced crawl time. It’s best if Google’s bots focus on your new or revised pages rather than wasting time on duplicated, multiple URLs.
Why is Content Syndication a Good Idea?
Why syndicate your content?
No matter what type of content you produce, from blog posts to images and infographics, your aim is to have that content read by as many people as possible. For example, an online photography course creator might want to share a great photography portfolio with the hopes of attracting more students. With any membership site, increasing the size of the blog audience increases the potential for attracting new members.
Unless your site already has a large amount of daily unique visits, your content won't be seen by a large audience if it sits on only one web page. Marketers face this problem every time they look at relevant metrics. Their great content is not getting enough views, which means that not enough people are buying the associated product or service.
Content syndication is a cost-effective way to fix that problem, boosting your brand or product awareness, improving your SEO rankings and performance, and, ultimately, driving more customers to make a purchase. Getting your content reproduced on a large number of relevant sites and platforms opens your content to a far wider audience than before.
Why syndicate other's content on your membership site?
As mentioned, syndication benefits both the content creator and the site that syndicates the content. That's because, when you publish outside content on your site, you're potentially gaining the audience of and benefitting from the reputation of the content creator. It goes without saying, then, that the key is to only syndicate content from high quality sources.
How to Syndicate Your Content
Once you know you want to syndicate your content, you need to decide how you'll syndicate it. Obviously, you want your content on platforms that are relevant to the subject matter. There's little point in having an article on summer fashion published on a plumbing website!
Relevance is key because, just as businesses are continually using different types of web applications to stay relevant, consumers are continually visiting various sites to gain information and stay informed.
There are two main routes to choose from: paid syndication and free syndication.
Most big companies who go down the syndication route will opt for a hybrid of paid and free publishing. For paid syndication, it works much the same as paid ads. You set a budget, identify your primary demographic focus and cost per click, and then your host presents your article or other content to its readers/viewers with that all-important link to your site or online course.
Luckily for marketers, the process of paid syndication is fairly easy these days. There are two major websites that help you with this, Outbrain and Taboola. So getting your content to that wider audience only takes a few clicks.
What should be noted here is that paid syndication may not increase your SEO ranking. But what it can do is get your content onto major websites and in front of the huge potential audiences they serve.
We all love free things, and syndication is no different. The best thing about free syndication is that it doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality in any way. The best collaboration tools to create content can also enable you to identify potential targets for free syndication for the content you create.
There are four main places you can syndicate your content with no added costs:
1. Bigger Websites
The benefit of reproducing your content on a larger site is that you amplify your reach, so more people will read the content you've created. The downside is that if a person can read your entire article on the host’s site, they may not be inclined to click through to your website. However, this is still a great way to raise your brand’s profile.
2. Guest Posts/Blogs
A lot of bigger sites prefer original content over reproduced content, but this can work in your favor, too. It can be worth publishing new content as a guest and getting access to that bigger audience. Your guest content may (if allowed) contain links back to your products, and you can (again if allowed) then syndicate that content back to your own platforms.
3. Smaller or Similar Websites
It’s not always about reaching a bigger audience. It can also be beneficial to reach a more focused audience. This can work especially well if you're dealing with specialist or niche subjects. You can syndicate previously published content from your own platforms to sites where you know the audiences have similar interests.
4. Get Noticed with Great Content
Getting syndicated isn't always about you being proactive. If your content is informative (for example, content that contains verifiable facts and figures, graphs, infographics, etc.) then websites may approach you. It will often be the case that they publish only part of the original piece but link back to the original source. While this isn't the usual form of syndication, it achieves your original aim, which is to extend the reach of your articles and content.
Syndicating your content is the perfect way to extend your reach. If you avoid the duplicate content trap and always target relevant sites, syndication can drive more customers to your site without costing you a bundle. With so many businesses competing in the marketplace, having your content on multiple sites can give you a real competitive edge.
With membership websites, it’s not just about keeping up with your competitors, it’s about trying to get ahead of them. And with the growth of e-learning, content syndication can be a way of attracting new students.
Businesses and customers are increasingly tech-savvy. Customers may access your platforms from multiple devices, so when your content is spread over multiple sites, there's a greater chance you'll fit with their preferences.
This is all part of an overall holistic approach where you recognize the need for far more than a single blinkered approach, and where businesses now serve their customers through as many varied channels as possible, including by using things like multi-level IVR and business VoIP for customer service. This and other types of automation, such as RPA software, will also help you give the time and attention needed to get content syndication right.
Do you have additional questions about how to do content syndication? Let us know in the comments!