Recently the topic of syndicating content came up in conversation. You see, lots of bloggers have their blog posts syndicated on other sites that aggregate content, and sometimes we write posts specific to a site just to get our names in front of more readers who frequent that particular web site. It’s like guest blogging, but more focused.
Over time you can build a following on some of these sites, and while at first look that seems really great (look ma I’m FAMOUS!!) when it comes down to brass tacks it’s not always the best scenario. Why? Really it boils down to three things.
You could lose your community
Unless you are setting up reminders and following the conversations on every site you are syndicated on. you can miss responses to your posts. In fact, you can miss entire threads about what you wrote and the conversation passes you by, even though you were the one that started it. What’s the point in that? Even if you have listening tools set up that alert you to comments, that discussion takes place on the hosts’ web site, while your own post may sit with fewer comments. Hmm, well if your community is that easy to distract maybe you need to work on that a little more.
Google won’t love you any more
Duplicate content is becoming a bigger deal with search engines. If your post shows up on a site that gets 2,500 visits a day and you only have 200, which site is Google going to use as the link to your all important post about Empire Avenue? You guessed it, probably not yours.
Google says: “Syndicate carefully: 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. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content. “
OK, fat chance on the syndicating site using noindex, that’s why they want your content in the first place. Which brings me to….
Clay Shirky credits Nicholas Carr with coming up with this one in Shirky’s book “Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age“. The concept is simple, site owners leverage the power of their communities to encourage writers to share their writing for free and the site owner reaps the rewards of any revenue that comes from multiple authors who aren’t compensated. Is this sour grapes from journalists who used to get paid to write and now must suffer the indignacy of writing for free? Maybe, maybe not, but it is the way of the web these days. I mean really, all of the communities online from Forums and Youtube to Twitter and Facebook use the user-generated content on their site to earn revenue and we don’t seem to mind so much. I think the people who are irked the most about this one are professional journalists who get paid if it’s in print but not online.
I think I’ll hold off official sharecropper status for myself though. I do get value from the sites that syndicate me in new readers and broader exposure, and I’m careful about where I’m syndicated. I think the trade-off is OK and I’ve gotten some good clients who followed the breadcrumbs back to my site.After all social media is about sharing right?
So, how to get the most value out of being syndicated?
- Start by being careful where you share your content. is the site and the other authors reputable and do they have similar values to your own?
- Make sure you following your own posts so you can engage in conversations wherever they take place. Be prepared to answer the same questions on multiple platforms.
- Share the love. let people know where you are syndicated with links to those sites and share the posts of other authors on the site as well. Be part of their community.
- Be unique if you can. Many of these sites allow you to post unique articles as well as the ones they are pulling from your web site. Give the community more focused posts relevant to the site content.
- Create backlinks.Many sites will add a link to your original post at the end of the syndicated one.
- Create links in your content to other posts on your own web site. If you’re in WordPress, you’ll see a link in your dashboard telling you when your post is shared somewhere, and the search engines will count these as incoming links.
- Tell people who you are. Does the syndicating site allow you a profile? Fill it out with a link back to your site and how to contact you.
- Comment on your posts when someone asks a question and set alerts so you can follow that conversation by email.