Content syndication is one of the most controversial SEO strategies around. In fact, for every content marketer who swears that syndication is essential, you’ll find one who tells you that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
Why is this?
The controversy comes from the fact that syndication can offer huge SEO benefits, but it also poses a number of risks when you don’t know what you’re doing. On top of that, syndication means working with third parties.
This adds an uncontrolled variable, as your syndication partner can easily mess something up too. Therefore, the best content syndication strategies leverage the benefits on offer while minimizing the risks for your SEO.
Today we’re going to look at two strategies to achieve this. Specifically, we’ll explore how you can syndicate video content and infographics to boost your organic and referral traffic. But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is Content Syndication?
Essentially, content syndication means allowing larger sites to republish your existing content.
They might use entire pieces of content, or simply use short excerpts. While blog articles are the most common form of syndicated content, this also carries the most risks, as we’ll see in a minute.
This is similar to guest posting, but the key difference is that syndication uses existing content, whereas in a guest posting relationship, you create entirely new pieces for your partners.
As much as 10% of content published by the top brands is syndicated, meaning that there is a high demand to meet:
Why Do Marketers Use Syndication for SEO?
Since syndication is aimed at publishing content on larger sites in your niche, it essentially offers three SEO benefits:
- Audience Access – Your syndication partners’ audiences will obviously be larger than your own. Naturally, this means more readers for your content than if you only publish through your own channels.
- Link Building and Domain Authority – When done correctly, content syndication allows you to boost your site’s rankability, by improving your domain authority. Each time you receive a link from a high authority site in your industry, it signals to Google that you’re a credible voice in your niche. Syndication is one of the easiest link building strategies around.
- Improved Brand Awareness – As time goes by, readers will begin to see you as an authoritative voice in your niche, which can lead to better direct traffic, and social engagement.
The crucial thing here is that content syndication is a powerful way to add value to your existing content efforts. That is, when you’ve already done the hard work of creating amazing content, syndication is used to make this work harder for your brand.
So what’s the downside?
Does Content Syndication Hurt Your SEO?
The unfortunate truth is that content syndication can also actively harm your SEO. To understand why, let’s take a step back.
Say you had to explain what the Google algorithm is looking for to a caveman.
The brand which ranks first for a given keyword is inevitably going to be the one which publishes the best unique content on the site with the strongest domain-level ranking signals. There are a few key syndication mistakes which can undermine this mission.
Duplication Issues and Incorrect Canonicalization
When two pieces of content are substantially similar, search engines find it difficult to decide which to display for users. In extreme cases, this can even lead to manual action penalties, if Google suspects that there is plagiarism afoot.
More often though, both versions of the duplicated content will be indexed, but struggle to rank. This is because it simply isn’t in Google’s interest to show users two versions of the same article. In this case, the articles will compete with each other, and struggle to rank.
To avoid this, your syndication partners need to add a piece of HTML known as a rel=canonical tag to the head on their version of the content. This signals to search engines that your site is the original publisher, which Google should prioritise.
Of course, this is where trust comes into play. That is, you can’t guarantee that your syndication partners will play ball, meaning that syndicating written content is inherently risky.
Syndicating to Competitors
When you syndicate written content, you’re also going to end up competing with your partners to rank for similar keywords. For example, say you run a marketing blog with an average domain authority of around 45.
If you syndicate content to a big player with an 80+ domain authority, chances are they’ll come out above you in the SERPs for just about any keyword. As such, content syndication can often mean shooting yourself in the foot, at least with written content.
Linking and Attribution for Syndicated Content
Again, if your syndication partners don’t hold up their end of the bargain, you’ll often end up hurting your own SEO and boosting theirs. If a partner fails to use proper onpage attribution for your syndicated content, then, best case scenario, they’ll get all the credit and you won’t get any link juice in return.
In the worst case scenario, it might even look like you’ve plagiarized from them, which can lead to manual penalties and reputational damage for your brand.
How to Use Content Syndication Without Hurting Your SEO
So how do you eliminate the SEO risks of content syndication? As we’ve seen, most of these risks are unique to written content, like blog articles. As such, the most effective way to get around these risks is to avoid syndicating written content entirely.
Instead, we’re going to focus on how to use videos and infographics in your content syndication strategy.
Syndicating Multimedia Content
The important thing here is that multimedia content isn’t liable for the same kinds of duplication or attribution issues as written content. There’s also a greater demand for syndicated visual content, with much less supply, making it easier to score links on high authority sites.
Many marketers are hesitant to create multimedia content. After all, we’re not all video production or graphic design whizzes. However, creating effective visual content isn’t that complicated.
With tools like Canva, just about anyone can make a professional looking infographic. Other brands are crying out for infographics to improve the quality and credibility of their content. Your goal is to meet this demand.
Typically, the data you need already exists, you simply have to package it in an appealing visual format.
Video content is a similar story. There’s massive demand for quality, embeddable video content, as this offers huge onpage SEO benefits by improving average session length:
Most brands don’t think they have the resources to make this in house. The truth is that any video will boost your syndication partners’ session lengths. Even a simple screen recording and voiceover will achieve this. You just need to know what you’re talking about.
At ProfileTree, we’ve used this strategy to create a whole series of tutorials for the popular drag and drop website creator, Wix. For example, this simple video presentation has around 300,000 views and has been embedded over 200 times from 56 different domains, with DA scores up to 81.
To achieve the same result, all you need is the following:
- Expertise on your topic,
- A short script,
- Screen capture software,
- A decent microphone.
Start by creating video versions of your top performing written content. You’ll quickly find that other sites begin embedding your video content, without the need for you to put in any syndication outreach.
Speaking of outreach.
Identifying Influencers in your Niche
With written content, syndication typically means signing up to a syndicate network, uploading your content, and hoping for the best. We’re going to take a slightly more targeted approach with our multimedia syndication strategy, at least at first.
There’s a key difference here between syndicating blog articles and video or infographic content. This comes down to supply and demand. From the point of view of syndication partners, the situation is as follows:
- Written content – There are countless creators who want their content syndicated, meaning that publishers can be much more selective. This means you’ll need to cast a wide net, by using syndication networks.
- Multimedia content – There are far fewer quality multimedia creators, and the potential benefits for republishers are much greater. This means that you have a strong value proposition when you reach out directly to syndicate partners, as you have a lot more to offer them.
This means that targeted outreach is more effective in the short term. You can then build on this later by using syndication networks.
At this point, your goal is to identify brands which will benefit from embedding your multimedia content. In essence, you’re looking for three things here:
- Audience Overlap – You want to identify sites which publish blogs which are relevant to your existing audience. Your goal is to add value to their existing content, so the more relevant the better.
- Middling Rankability – This is the problem you’ll solve for your outreach targets. Aim to come up with a list of brands which are in the top 50 on Google for relevant keywords, but are struggling to make the front page.
- Domain Authority and Traffic – Here’s what’s in it for you. Your goal is to either gain quality backlinks or referral traffic when your content is syndicated. As such, you want to prioritise sites with a healthy DA or decent monthly traffic figures.
Now that you understand your syndication goals, let’s take a closer look at the specific steps you can take.
How to Syndicate Video Content
It’s important to frame video content syndication in the right way.
Whereas with written content, you’re essentially republishing sections of your blog, video syndication is all about providing resources other brands can embed on their blogs to make them more effective for both SEO and CRO.
As such, the goal is to get your videos in front of other like-minded creators. Remember, these people are looking for quality embeddable video content. You just need to make sure they choose to use yours.
Here are three concrete strategies which we recommend.
Now, we’re assuming that when you create new content you’re probably already publishing it across your social platforms. While this is a perfectly good strategy for consumer marketing, using social media for scoring syndication opportunities works a little bit differently.
There are two key strategies which you can leverage here:
- Using interest-specific groups to target content creators on Facebook and LinkedIn,
- Engaging with other creators’ posts on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Finding Syndication Opportunities in Social Media Groups
Social media groups are probably the most useful resource there is when trying to syndicate your video content. These essentially offer a premade audience with a high degree of specificity.
For example, the Adobe Illustrator LinkedIn group has over 115,000 users, made up of graphic designers and content creators who use Illustrator. If you were a content creator in the graphic design niche, this would be a massive opportunity to find others to syndicate your video content.
This is a pretty common approach on similar LinkedIn groups, with posts aimed at promoting video content being published nearly every day.
Engaging with Creators on LinkedIn and Twitter
Another great option to use social media to find content syndication opportunities is to start public conversations with influencers in your niche. Let’s return to our Wix video example from earlier.
Here, your mission is to seek out influencers who have recently published an article which would benefit from having your video embedded on it. Then, all you have to do is comment on their article and show how your video will add value to it.
Beyond social media, traditional manual outreach is a powerful tool for targeted syndication of your video content. Again, we’re looking for brands which publish content related to your video content, who are struggling to make the first page.
All you need here is a decent keyword research tool, like Semrush or Ahrefs.
Let’s stick with the same example. Use your keyword research tool to identify all of the sites which rank in the top 100 for your desired query, without making the front page. In our case, we’ll go with ‘How to use Wix’:
This gives us 90 potential sites who we can add value to, by signposting our tutorial and suggesting they embed it. All we have to do is identify the correct contact, and outreach to them with a message stating:
- That you liked their article, but noticed that it’s struggling to make the front page.
- That embedding video content on blog articles can boost rankability by as much as 50%.
- That they are welcome to use your video content. At this point you should also provide details of how you’d like this to be attributed – specifically, a link to your own site.
This is a really effective approach, because you’re essentially offering them a free SEO boost, without really asking for anything in return. This strong value proposition will lead to a high win rate for your syndication outreach.
How to Use Content Syndication with Infographics
Luckily, the process for scoring content syndication opportunities with infographics is pretty similar. In fact, you can use the exact same social media strategies as you would when trying to syndicate video content.
What makes infographics such a great resource is that their supply and demand ratio is skewed even further in your favour. This means that infographics are probably the best way to syndicate content organically.
In fact, syndicating infographics can boost organic traffic by as much as 400%.
Organic syndication happens when someone republished your content, without you having to lift a finger. This happens in three stages:
- You create a quality infographic and publish it,
- Other creators find your infographic when conducting their own research,
- They then republish this to boost the credibility of their own content, without the need to create their own visuals.
A large proportion of these search engine users are going to be conducting image searches. Let’s take the keyphrase ‘content marketing statistics’ as an example:
This has a reasonable monthly search volume, as well as a moderately high keyword difficulty score, and a very specific search intent. As such, it would be very difficult to take the front page of the SERPs for this unless you had an outstanding domain authority.
However, if we take a look at the Images SERPs, 1827 Marketing has managed to make the top 10, with an unremarkable domain authority score of 27.
This means that creators who are seeking out content marketing infographics will find this content, and organically syndicate it.
This demonstrates that all you need is some high quality visual content, and decent alt texts to achieve organic syndication, and gain exposure most brands could only dream of with written content.
Manual outreach for infographic syndication opportunities isn’t markedly different to the strategy we discuss above with video. In essence, it’s the same process, with one additional step.
Recall that outreaching to potential video syndication opportunities was all about identifying brands who will benefit from embedding your content, and convincing them of the value of doing so.
The difference with infographics is that you need to do a little bit more legwork to explain the context of your visual content.
For example, let’s say we’re still working with an infographic on content marketing statistics. Your targets are mostly going to be blogs which are struggling to make the first page for keywords relating to content marketing.
With video, you could simply state that video content of any kind will boost their rankability, and you just so happen to have a relevant one for them.
With outreach for infographic syndication, you’ll have to communicate the value. One easy way to do this is to zoom in on their introduction, and try and help them build a sense of urgency in their content.
In your outreach, suggest that their session lengths are dragging their rankability down, because their intro lacks punch. Then, you can highlight how your infographic solves this problem, by hooking in readers with a sense of urgency.
Then, all you have to do is provide them with the right attribution details for infographic link building, and watch the results pour in.
How to Syndicate Multimedia Content
Content syndication divides opinion. There are massive benefits on offer for your domain authority and referral traffic volumes, but there is also a strong chance that things will go wrong and actively harm your SEO.
However, most of these problems only occur when you syndicate written content, like blog articles. As such, putting videos and infographics at the heart of your content syndication strategy is the most effective way to reap the benefits on offer.
The core of this is creating valuable multimedia content, which other creators will actually benefit from republishing. Then, the missing step is simply to find the right creators to syndicate your content, using a combination of manual outreach, organic search and social media.
Bio: Ronan is a content marketer and SEO expert at ProfileTree, Northern Ireland’s top digital agency. He’s passionate about boosting the visibility and competitiveness of SME clients.