Many resources on how to improve your brand’s content marketing efforts focus on publishing your work on your own sites and other digital platforms that you control, such as your social media accounts, YouTube channel, document publishing sites, and the like. But these days, that’s usually not enough to attract enough attention to raise your brand’s profile and build a devoted audience. That’s where content syndication comes in.
When it’s done smartly and strategically, content syndication helps expose your brand and your content to an expanded audience that’s already primed to be interested in what you do. Moreover, it can work for B2C as well as B2B brands.
However, it’s not quite as simple as some resources and guides make it seem. There’s definitely strategy and careful analysis involved. Read on to learn what content syndication is and how to make it work for you and your brand.
Content syndication defined
Content syndication is the process of taking a blog post, article, infographic, video, or any other kind of content that you’ve already published on your site or social media accounts and republishing it on other websites.
That’s it, really. It’s similar to the way a television series enjoys a first run on a network, but then after a point goes into syndication on other channels. In this case, the TV series is your content, and the “other channel” is a different website. You usually pick one with an audience profile that shares certain key demographics with yours and that offers some overlap with your niche.
Note that syndication is not the same as guest blogging, where you write new content to publish for the first time on someone else’s site. Nor is it the same as content curation, where you share helpful resources from a wide variety of sources to your audience through social media or link roundups.
The benefits of content syndication
The toughest part of finding success at content marketing for any brand is reaching enough of the right people with your content to grow a loyal, interested audience of users. By the same token, one of the top challenges identified by content marketers and publishers across many niches, but perhaps especially for B2B brands, is finding or creating enough informative content to publish that’ll keep the audience engaged.
Content syndication helps solve everyone’s problems. It builds your audience. As a mostly (but not necessarily always) top-of-funnel (TOFU) strategy, content syndication can also boost both organic and referral traffic for both sites. Moreover, for e-commerce brands, syndication can lead to a significant uptick in reviews and product coverage.
At the same time, the republishing site gets access to fresh, authoritative and entertaining content for its readers who constantly crave it. Everyone benefits — the syndicating site, the republishing site, and their respective audiences.
SEO considerations in content syndication
If you know a bit about SEO by this point you might be asking, “but what about the duplicate content problem?” It’s a valid concern. For years, we’ve been warned by SEO experts that duplicate content can hurt our content marketing work. Google may not directly penalize websites for duplicate content, but posting two pages with the exact same content on both won’t necessarily boost your SERPs or SEO results either.
The best answer comes straight from the source. Google itself says syndication is fine and poses no duplicate content issues, as long as you follow a few fairly simple rules:
- Make it clear to both human readers and search engines that the content they’re looking at is syndicated.
- Provide the original link in the syndicated version. That way, you’re always giving readers and search engines a path back to the primary source.
- Ideally, get the syndicator — that is, the other website that’s now publishing your syndicated content — to include what’s known as a canonical link, which is essentially a way to let Google know which URL you want it to “count” for SEO purposes. This is accomplished through the use of the rel=canonical tag.
- Consider asking the syndicator to use a noindex tag that’ll tell Google and other search engines not to index that page.
Ways to syndicate your content
While some sites suggest that you can DIY content syndication through sites such as Medium or LinkedIn, the content you republish there is still associated with your brand identity. The audience is your audience, and is often attracted to your content on the strength of that reputation. However, the strength of syndication is in the way it amplifies your content, broadens your reach, and strengthens your brand reputation.
A paid platform is a popular choice for brands that have adopted a syndication strategy. Several companies can help you implement an effective program that targets the right sites with strong content to attract more of the right users to your brand.
Carefully evaluate the specifics of the platform you choose to work with before you enter into a binding agreement. For example, ClearVoice can work with existing content that you’ve already published or can help you create content specifically for syndication, whatever best suits your brand’s needs. Other companies may only work with previously published content. Also take a look at the reported data and how often you’ll get those reports; that’s the way you’ll evaluate how well syndication is working for you.
Best practices for strategic use of content syndication
Like many digital marketing strategies, content syndication can get fairly complicated in practice. Implement the following best practices for a smoother experience as you experiment and find out which specific tactics work most effectively for your brand.
Pinpoint your target audience
Everything begins with the people you’re trying to target with your content. The people who match your customer personas are more closely aligned with your buyer journey from the first step, so content that speaks clearly to them has a head start, so to speak.
However, to reach them and attract them to your brand’s audience, you need to know who you’re talking to and what to say. Taking the time to define each of your targeted client or customer personas is one of the highest ROI activities into which you can invest your brand’s valuable resources.
Then you can more efficiently plan and map out your content to reach the prospects that are primed to want what you sell.
Choose the right content
Not every piece of content you labor over is well suited to syndication. Which blog posts, infographics, videos, or other kinds of content will perform well in syndication depend in large part on your marketing goals.
Avoid syndicating self-aggrandizing or overly promotional content. It doesn’t play well on other websites, as it often comes across as self-serving.
For B2B brands, thought leadership and case studies often outperform other kinds of content. For B2C companies, reviews and buyer’s guides help expand brand awareness. However, these are simply guidelines. The only way to tell is to test out your options and adjust your strategy based on results.
Select the right sites
You want to pair up your content with a site that gets strong traffic with users who match your targeted audience to some extent. It’s tempting to aim at sites with highly niched, specialized brands that target tightly focused user groups that align with your goals. However, that can raise your costs if you’re using a company with a cost-per-lead (CPL) fee structure.
Instead, look for high authority sites with larger audiences. Those can lend some of that perceived expertise to you through your syndicated content. Use your content itself to help your potential readers self-identify and attract them to your own site.
Avoid these syndication mistakes
As with any new-to-you content marketing strategy, syndication presents lots of opportunities to succeed . It also offers some chances to stumble if you’re not careful. Be aware of the potential pitfalls to sidestep them.
Don’t jump in blindly
One of the biggest and easiest mistakes beginning syndicators make is to simply dive in without a strategy. Content syndication isn’t well served by throwing a lot of content up against the wall like spaghetti to see what sticks.
Instead, take a more thoughtful approach. Choose your target site carefully, with a well-defined sketch of your audience. It’s fine to test out more than one channel at a time. Just make sure you can adequately track and monitor your results on each.
Don’t over-rely on audience filters
One of the best things about robust syndication platforms is the targeting filters they offer. It might be tempting to narrowly define your audience. Most B2B content syndicators, for example, routinely select for geographical location and company size. It might also be possible to target by position or title, or by specific software platforms used by the target.
That’s not always in your best interest. The more targeting filters you select, the higher your CPL will be. Instead, you can let the content you choose to syndicate help filter out the right audience from those that aren’t likely to be interested in your products or services.
Ensure your lead capture and follow-up protocols are strong.
At its core, all marketing strategy roads lead back to … well, to leads. It’s all about the leads. Your best content syndication efforts are only as effective as your lead generation and follow-up are.
It doesn’t stop with generating and capturing the lead information, though. You also need a strong habit of following up quickly after the information is captured.
Syndication can work for you
As part of a comprehensive content marketing strategy, content syndication can turbocharge the content you work hard to create. Follow our best practices and be strategic about how you integrate it into your existing content tactics. Don’t forget to monitor the data to evaluate your syndicated content’s performance. And, don’t be afraid to make adjustments based on those metrics.
Thanks for reading! Do you want to create thought leadership articles like the one above? If you struggle to translate your ideas into content that will help build credibility and influence others, sign up to get John’s latest online course “Writing From Your Voice” here.