BloggingContent Marketing Strategy

Content Syndication Is Damaging Your Brand

By April 28, 2014 No Comments

Content syndication is a common marketing tactic amongst digital agencies. Unfortunately, it also carries with it huge risks to your content, website and brand image.


[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”25px”]What is Content Syndication?[/googlefont]

Content syndication is the act of sharing your website content with third-party sites, and allowing them to publish your blog posts, guides and articles. We aren’t talking about guest blogging either – we’re talking about your published content being reproduced, in full, on another website.


[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”25px”]3 Problems with Content Syndication[/googlefont]

On the surface, content syndication looks like a great idea – offering boosts to website traffic, brand and authorship exposure, and a couple of dofollow backlinks. Unfortunately though, there’s a very definitive trade-off involved – and there’s a good chance that content syndication is actually damaging your brand.


[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”20px”]1. The syndicating website will outrank you[/googlefont]

Google isn’t perfect. Despite trying its best to determine the original source of your content, the syndicating website may outrank you in the SERPs. Google looks at a range of metrics to determine search engine rank – including page and domain authority, social media signals and backlink profiles. Unless you operate a huge, HubSpot-style website, syndication behemoths, like Business2Community and Social Media Today, are going to beat you to the punch in every metric –and the end result?

[box style=”1 “]‘If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer.’ [/box]


That’s right. Your original, lovingly-crafted content will be outranked by the syndicating site – even when visitors directly search for it. Suddenly, those dofollow links don’t look quite so attractive.


[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”20px”]2. Your site could get penalized for duplicate content[/googlefont]

Google is hot on duplicate content. Syndicating your material to a handful of sites is unlikely to trigger Google’s penalty system – but if you regularly syndicate content, across a range of websites, you have a problem.

Repeated syndication means that your content is appearing, in duplicate, across dozens of popular websites. The problem escalates when syndicating sites ask you to delay publication of content to your own site. This is increasingly common-practice, as syndicators prefer to have a period of exclusivity with your content – effectively making their website the original source of your content…

content syndication alarm bells

*Alarm bells*

…and care of Google’s Panda update, duplicate content no longer affects individual page rank – it affects your entire site. In other words, content syndication can get your entire website penalized and de-indexed by Google.


[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”20px”]3. Syndication will go the way of guest blogging[/googlefont]

In the wake of Matt Cutt’s already-infamous guest blogging is done diatribe, and the brutal penalization of, Google’s attitude to bought promotion is obvious. As a result, it’s a safe bet that paid syndication sites – offering content publication in exchange for a fee – are likely to be Cutt’s next target.

‘That’s fine, I only use free syndication sites anyway!’

Personally, I still wouldn’t risk on it. As we saw with guest blogging, Cutt’s speech had far-reaching implications – removing confidence in all guest blogging, paid or unpaid. Any move to question the legitimacy of content syndication is likely to impact all syndication sites. Free sites, like B2C and Social Media Today, and paid sites like Outbrain and Taboola, will all suffer equally from any Webmaster targeting. If you syndicate, that means your website will suffer.


[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”25px”]What should I do instead of content syndication?[/googlefont]

Content curation is a viable, and completely safe, alternative to syndication. Instead of encouraging publication of your content, ask brands to simply share it with their audience. If your content is valuable and targeted, most will be happy to include it in their social media promotion, boosting your readership in a natural, effective and free way. By returning the favor for other brands, you can also develop lucrative relationships with influencers – without any of the risks associated with content syndication.

10:4:1 Rule versus Content Syndication

Better Content Curation with the 10:4:1 Rule

For a great look at effective content syndication with the 10:4:1 rule, check out one of my most popular blog posts: Better Content Curation with the 10:4:1 Rule [hr style=”3″ margin=”40px 0px 40px 0px”]

[googlefont font=”Oswald” size=”25px”]Next Steps[/googlefont]

Content syndication is popular with time-poor marketers, looking for an effective way to promote their content. Unfortunately, most syndication does more harm than good. Before you turn to content syndication, it’s worth checking out content curation – and if you need help with your content workload, try outsourcing your content to a professional content agency!



Author Ryan

I help SaaS companies grow with content marketing. I also drink Scotch. Sometimes together. CMO & co-founder, Cobloom.

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