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A guide to content syndication in link-building

Every now and then, we see someone asking whether the 20 links they got from syndicated content are as valuable as getting links from non-syndicated coverage.

Recently, we were also forwarded a question asked by someone who had been recommended content syndication as a link-building activity, with the “link-builder” in question telling them that by publishing content on their own site and syndicating it elsewhere with canonical tags to the original post, they would gain the SEO value of multiple backlinks.

Yikes.

With that in mind, this seemed like an apt time to address some rumours about syndicated content – here’s a quick guide on what to remember when you’re thinking of syndicating your own content elsewhere, and when you’re reporting on the value of digital PR coverage where one third-party post has been syndicated across a news network.

Syndicating your own content 

  • If you’re syndicating content from your own website on third-party domains, including canonical tags that pinpoint yours as the original will help to avoid duplicate content issues and makes it less likely that someone else outranks you with your own content. But using canonical tags doesn’t guarantee that only the primary content version is shown, so multiple versions of the same content can appear in the SERPs and your content may wind up bringing more results to a third-party site than it brings to you.
  • rel=canonical does not pass link equity in the same way as a hyperlink, so syndicating an article on 20 third-party publishers with canonical tags isn’t going to give you all the same benefits as getting 20 pieces of original coverage with hyperlinks in them.
  • Syndicating your own content can be a quick way to get additional brand coverage, building awareness and trust. Duplicates of your original article may also drive some clicks and traffic from elsewhere on the web. But invest more time, and you could achieve all of these things with unique content, with the added benefit of new links that do pass authority and aid your rankings.

That said, we’re not recommending anyone starts acting like it’s the olden days of SEO and does large-scale guest posting campaigns to get links. There’s a time and a place for a few pieces of thought leadership that offer genuinely insightful expertise, but the safest way to capture new site links is to earn them through great on-site content and digital PR promotion.

So, on to the next point.

Winning syndicated links via digital PR

Many major news publications are now part of a network. You pick up a piece of coverage with a link in a major regional title, and dozens of smaller publications targeting subregions in the same area instantly re-share that original piece of coverage, all featuring the same link. 

While it’s fine to report on all these as separate pieces of coverage for the brand in question, and to estimate the size of the audience that’s been reached via additional syndication, what isn’t really right is to claim that every single one of those links is as valuable as the first.

We can say for sure that the first link is passing “link equity” or ranking authority, but there’s no guarantee as to whether the rest of the links, all coming from pages with rel=canonical back to that first post, are merely passing less authority to your site or are actually passing no authority at all. What we would say for sure is that they are very definitely not as valuable as the original link. 

Reporting on syndicated coverage 

When it comes to reporting coverage and links to your clients or stakeholders based on a campaign that includes syndicated coverage, be transparent about which pieces of coverage are syndicated and which aren’t. A simple annotation stating “syndicated from (original publisher)” ensures no one is misled, and makes it easier to understand why a campaign with lots of won links may not have had the impact on rankings that people were hoping for.

If you’ve picked up a tonne of syndicated coverage, don’t feel that the lesser ranking benefits make it less of a victory – it’s just a case of reporting on more than links alone.

You may see an uplift in brand search, readers may share the story with their social media connections, relevant traffic may be driven down the additional links, and new audiences not yet ready to click or search will have seen the brand name and stored it somewhere in their brain for future reference. Link quality and quantity are the focus of any link-building campaign, but they aren’t the only thing worth reporting on.

Tabby Farrar is Blink SEO’s in-house digital PR expert and the recent host of our popular #Blinktank webinar on digital PR and link-building for DTC brands. To learn more about syndicated content and how we’ve helped our clients achieve award-winning coverage, get in touch.

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