Blogging basics: Content syndication done right
Building an audience is tough. While blogging might seem fun and easy at first — setting up your site, banging out a few introductory posts — it only takes a few months of posting great content into the abyss to understand why blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants.
So how do you build a robust and engaged community that reads, shares, and comments on your content? The best answer might be a simple one — “The same way you build an offline one, slowly and honestly” — but there are steps you can take to fast-track your success.
One of those steps is syndicating your content on other websites. Today we’ll explain what syndication means, what some of its benefits and drawbacks are, and how to get started.
What is content syndication?
Put simply, content syndication is the process of republishing already-posted content on a third-party site. Usually the content appears as it did originally, with a comment from the new publisher explaining that it’s a syndicated post, and sometimes a statement of its relevance to their readers.
Marketer and blogger Danny Brown has this great analogy:
“For most local journalists, your stories are mainly read by the local township. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it’s a solid enough career. However, now and again you might write a human interest story that gets picked up by the nationals, and your piece is quoted in the New York Times or CNN. That kind of exposure can lead to bigger gigs and paychecks, as you’re approached to provide stories (or images) for these bigger outlets, as well as your local publication where it all started.”
Content syndication works the same way — your blog is always the first place your content appears, but it gets picked up by (or more likely, pitched to) a variety of other “newsrooms” that are in your niche but have larger readerships than your little “local rag.”
Many bloggers aren’t in it for fame or fortune, but most at least want a larger following — or, as Jeff Goins put it, “a tribe of inspired individuals who will read what we say, believe what we believe, and share our ideas with the world.”
Content syndication helps you do just that. It gets your content in front of an audience you wouldn’t otherwise have reached on your own. It increases the exposure of your ideas, drives more traffic to your blog, gets more pingbacks, and improves search rankings.
Plus, it doesn’t take anywhere near the effort of brainstorming, researching, and writing new posts. If you’ve already written and published content once, why not reach more people with the same content? It’s basic ROI.
Some people argue that the benefits of content syndication are overstated, primarily because it ticks off Google by creating duplicate content. While that may have been a valid concern years ago, Google bots are now sophisticated enough to select the most relevant version of your content, which, if republishing sites are linking back to your blog properly, shouldn’t be an issue.
To be extra safe and ensure that you’re not unwittingly destroying your search ranking, you can add a rel=canonical tag to the syndicated version of your content to point search engines to the original source. Another option is the “noindex” meta tag, which will prevent Google from indexing the syndicated copy while still spreading valuable “link juice” between articles.
There are a lot of of places you can syndicate your content. Chances are, you already know some sites that would be a good fit for your content. If not, paid syndication networks like Outbrain, Zemanta, SimpleReach and others are a godsend for managing content across a huge network of syndicators, providing detailed and centralized analytics information you can use to create the type of content your audience wants.
Don’t forget that you can also syndicate your content through social media, guest blogs, bookmarking sites, and the old standby: RSS subscriptions. Different audiences flock to different platforms, so do your research and adapt your syndication strategy accordingly.
There’s no magic-bullet fix for building your blog audience. Over the years, a lot of game-changing SEO tricks have come and gone, but syndicated content has stuck because it’s a reliable and powerful strategy for building a community around your blog.
Do you syndicate your blog content? What’s worked well for you? If you have any experience or tips to share, hit us up in the comments!