ARTICLES | CONTENT DISTRIBUTION
Why you need a content distribution and syndication plan
By Gary Bloomer
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The mid-'90s assertion by Bill Gates and the late Sumner Redstone of ViacomCBS that "Content is king!" misses the point that lots of content lacks impact and sustained value and that other content is less worthwhile, less memorable, and less noteworthy than it's given credit for.
Content for content's sake wastes people's time and junks up important streams of valuable and useful information.
This explains why there's so much nonsense shared on social
media: here's a video of a cat; here's an image of my dinner; I just went to the bathroom—really?
While it's all 'content', how much of it is worthwhile? How much of it adds to humanity? If it's all content, can it all, by default, be king? I don't think so.
To have long-term impact, your content needs to get to a wider audience which depends on distribution and syndication.
What is syndicated content?
Syndication describes the process of pulling content from a variety of sources and redistributing it through a wider range of outlets and audiences.
If you've ever looked at either a local or national news website you'll often see dozens of syndicated stories from various websites. Commonly, these content blocks appear under subheadings saying "Other news from around the web". Whenever you see a content block like that, you're seeing syndicated content.
Most local news websites share a mix of regional-specific news stories sandwiched between national and international stories.
Often these news stories are sourced from Reuters or The Associated Press. Essentially, when you syndicate your web-based content, you're actively pushing it out onto third, fourth, and fifth party sites.
Your content might even appear in different languages or even transcribed into different forms such as video or audio, so that it gets consumed in different ways.
When it's syndicated, your content can appear in full, or as a snippet, or even as a link.
When it's done well, content syndication can boost page views
and page hits, it can increase reading, viewing, and listening
times, and it can increase and improve page ranking and visibility, thereby increasing your your audience as well as your revenues.
Creating your syndication plan
To get the best kind of results from content syndication you need
a thorough understanding of the goals you have for your content.
For example, if you’re aiming to get more leads you need your audience to come back to your website to sign up for your mailing list, so you may not want to syndicate the entire article.
Instead, you may want to syndicate the headline, or maybe just a short introduction or an extract that you link directly to the content on your website.
On the other hand, if your goal is to spread awareness of your authority and expertise, you may get better results syndicating entire articles to publications that are a step above yours so that you can attract new audience members.
This approach works well if as part of your guest blogging contributions you're allowed to have an author box of some
kind in which you include a link to a specific landing page.
That brings us to ensuring you pick the right kind of syndication partner because each one may require a different type of feeds. While some will require RSS feeds, others might need custom URLs, thumbnails, titles, snippets, or excerpts.
So before you look for a partner it's important to know your goals and it's important to ask questions about the kind of content linking they need to drive lasting results for you and them.
Picking the right syndication partner
Many news and current affairs websites use syndicated content. The next step is to pick the right kind of syndication partner, of which there are both free and paid versions. Two of the best-known paid syndication platforms are Taboola.com and Outbrain.com.
Other paid services include:
On these, you’ll pay roughly 20 cents per click. You can find free syndication options too in a range of niches and industries, but you’ll have to research your specific niche or industry to find the best opportunities for your specific needs.
Free syndication networks include:
Choosing the right partner is as much about knowing your goals and understanding how the technology works as it is about having enough content to make it worth your while.
You'll also need to figure out whether you'll want to manually syndicate your content via sites such as Reddit.com and Medium.com, or whether you'll want to pay for play via one of the paid options.
The route you choose needs to be driven by your goals, by your budget, and by the content you want publish.
But whichever way you choose it's important to avoid any SEO penalties regarding duplicate content.
This means understanding how canonical URLs work. In SEO terms a canonical link describes the hierarchy of links and the preferred link to what search engines might otherwise see as duplicate content.
Let's say the link to your original article is:
If the content connected to this URL also appears on another site with the following URL:
Google and other search engines will not know that the article on your site is the original and preferred URL deserving of greater prominence.
It's for this reason that before you start sharing your content it needs to first be seen and indexed by the search engines as having originated on your website, not on someone else's.
Long term, you want your work to be credited to you in every
way it can be because the more you create great content designed for your target market, the more you provide lasting value.
Your syndication efforts should stand up to the technology and help you meet all your content marketing goals without your site taking a hit in terms of search visibility for sharing duplicate material.
Driving traffic to your site
Regardless of where you syndicate or distribute your material,
at some point you'll probably wonder where your content should appear to create the most visibility in the least amount of time.
After all, what's your content worth if no one sees it or interacts with it? Most of the time your content needs to direct people's attention to one source: your website.
Ultimately, the goal of your content is to attract visitors to your website or to a specific landing page from which you can then encourage them to subscribe to your email list so you can continue messaging to them over time.
But sometimes, you’ll want to put content on other sites, perhaps as a guest blogger, or on one or two of a handful of social media sites. If you're going to share material on social media, it's a good idea to share extracts of whole articles rather than making a habit of sharing full articles.
Either that or, if you're going to share a full article on social media exclude the same, duplicated article from your website, or share a rewritten version of it on your social streams to avoid duplicating content in multiple places.
Sharing content on other sites as a guest blogger helps you become better known, it exposes your content and approach to a much wider audience, and it helps establish you as an authority and as a trusted go-to person in your niche.
To help with all this, and if this is all new to you, let’s define a couple of terms that may be valuable in terms of ensuring your longer-term success.
Search engine optimization
SEO is the process by which you optimize the content you publish to ensure the most targeted website visitors and traffic are going to your offers. SEO happens on your webpage and on the other platforms you use to drive traffic to your site.
Optimizing content refers to the process of styling and ordering things you can see and things you can't see to elevate your content's position in terms of it being found through internet searches.
When I first came across the term 'SEO' back in 2006 I had no idea what it meant and for me, coming to terms with what it meant was a huge and complex learning curve.
At the same time I kept coming across the terms 'white hat SEO' and 'black hat SEO" and it took forever to understand that the analogy comes from old Western movies in which the good guys always wore white hats and the bad guys always wore black hats.
The basic premise here is that you need to do as much as you can to avoid black hat SEO techniques.
The days when you could game the system and stuff pages with keywords with text set in white on a white background are gone.
Today's search systems are far more powerful than they were
even just a few years ago and any attempt to alter the scales in
your favor can will come back to bite you.
On-page SEO refers to anything you do on your website or blog to ethically improve your chances of your material showing up in the top 10 search engine results for any given keyword or key phrase search.
This includes all the content you put on your site including titles, blog posts, articles, images, keywords, subheadings, and article content.
If it’s an adjustment or a tweak to your property (meaning your website) that's designed to attract more visitors and to keep those visitors on your site for a longer period of time, then it qualifies as on-page SEO.
Avoid keyword stuffing (adding dozens of keywords and keyword phrases) to your pages simply because you can. Stuff like this seldom reads well for human readers and if anything, it's more apt to irritate people than it is to have them hanging onto your every word.
Off-page SEO describes anything you do to improve the content in all its forms on third party websites including social media.
For example, if you update your LinkedIn profile so that it better describes you and your experience and if your profile then links someone back to your website it’s off-page SEO.
Likewise publishing your articles or sharing comments on
websites you then link back to your site, this again is considered off-page SEO.
With comments on other people's blogs I suggest taking a longer term approach to build up a relationship with the site owner before you begin sharing comments and links.
You do this by connecting with them through social media, ideally as a follower first, then as a connection.
When you make a connection, be sure to acknowledge it with a short, cheery greeting or appreciation. Something along the lines of: "Hi there' nice to connect with you. I really admired your article/viewpoint/thoughts on XYX."
Your connection doesn't need to be gushy-gushy.
Keep it light, professional, and respectful.
Next, and over a period of several weeks, share their website content and social media content on your social streams from time to time. A few times a month is fine.
The idea is to increase their awareness of your awesomeness and value without you coming across as a stalker. You're showing your appreciation and sharing your admiration of their voice, not planning a kidnapping.
As and when it's relevant and timely, add constructive, appropriate, value-based commentary and opinion on a few of their blog posts or social media shares.
In these comments, ask open-ended questions, affirm their point of view (without buttering them up), and offer insightful viewpoints that add to the discussion. If relevant, include a link to a related article that is not linked to your site in the body of your comment.
As seems appropriate, add links to related content on your site in the 'website' field next to your name and email address in the comment section. Do not use an alias or a fake email address.
Add value and connected opinion that further's debate and that positions you as someone who knows their stuff and as someone who is worth paying attention to.
Do this frequently and consistently for three to six months (because this is a long term strategy rather than a quick hit) with a list of the top 10 to 20 people in your niche—people with wider reach and larger followings than you—and always lead with value.
Once you've built up solid relationships and you are being noticed, next, ask each of these people if they would be willing to give you advice on a specific topic, or carry out research to see if they accept guest content, or ask if you could interview them for an article.
Most of them will probably turn you down and that's OK. After all, they don't owe you anything, do they? Whenever you encounter a no, thank them for their time and move on to the next person. But the point here is that at some point, someone's going to take you up on your request.
When that happens, be prepared, keep things short so as to make the best use of their time, and know what you'll ask ahead of time.
As the interview or whatever concludes, thank them for agreeing
to chat and then ask them if there is someone they know who they think might also want to speak with you.
I know of an entrepreneur who did this in the golf niche and she's interviewed hundreds of top-level players as a result, many of whom are now champion players.
With any off-page improvements you make, the more relevant the pages and sites that link to your site are in terms of your niche, the better the end result for you in terms of the impact on your material in search results.
To ensure that you maximize the traffic that comes to your site
both types of SEO are important, with each helping raise awareness of your brand while also helping build lasting relationships with your audience.
There are though a few differing thoughts about how to do all this as productively as possible.
One school of thought suggests publishing everything on your website first. Then either linking back to it or reworking it for use on other sites. In terms of eradicating the risk of duplicate content, this approach makes a lot of sense.
Conversely, the other school of thought suggests that once you’ve published content on your website as it is, that it’s then perfectly acceptable to push that content out to other sites as content syndication. The reality is that both methods work.
However, the idea of duplicate content impacting search results and of sites with duplicate content then being penalized by search engines has frightened a lot of people away from repurposing any of their material.
This avoidance mentality has put people off using high-quality
PLR (private label rights) to its full potential, which in many cases prevents people who could benefit from PLR getting the most out of their content.
You have only to copy and paste a passage of text from a PLR article into Google with quotation marks around it "like this" to see how often PLR is used as is without the slightest effort to make it unique.
While using PLR material as-is is an easy way to quickly put a lot of content on your website, when your use of a PLR is fighting against ten to 20 other uses of the same article, the later your article is to the party, the less attention it will gain in search results.
Yes, I use PLR content because it saves me days of work. However, because I rewrite niche-specific PLR articles I make them unique and in doing so, I add context, examples, and authenticity that multiplies the content's value, appeal, and reach.
I'll commonly take a 500 word article and add anecdotes, examples, related thoughts, metaphors, and personal experiences and opinions that turn it into a 2,000 word article.
I'm sure many people think PLR content isn't that great and that using it is cheating. I disagree. When it's used as seed material PLR has great value.
Yes, a lot of PLR is badly written, but when you find and are willing to pay for high quality PLR, it can save you months of work.
I think it's worth reworking even high-quality PLR to make it your own. The worst thing you can do with any PLR content is to reuse it as it is.
I'll give these kinds or articles new titles and I'll rewrite the introduction, restructure and rework whole paragraphs, and invest time and effort changing clauses and reengineering the piece's structure. Next I'll add quotations and examples and insert links to related material.
By doing all this I create as original an article as it's possible to create short of starting from scratch. I use PLR content as seed material which I then grow and transplant into a new garden.
If—or more likely, when—you let any publication republish your content as is, without any additional edits or changes, make sure the site in question uses the right source code to tell the search engines that the version of the article on your site deserves the credit for the content in its original form rather than indexing someone else's version of your article.
If you re-write or re-work the content in question you won’t need to worry about any of this. With any content you create, that content needs to be seen on your website first, before it appears elsewhere.
However, by publishing your content on other websites, you help with its SEO, which in turn helps establish you as an authority in your niche.
Whether you're publishing your material on Medium.com, on LinkedIn.com, or as a guest blogger on someone else's site, sharing your content on other platforms can help your site's SEO by creating valuable and long lasting backlinks to your site while also connecting with an entirely new group of viewers, readers, and listeners.
The benefits of syndication and distribution are many. You simply need to understand the implications and ramifications of how to do it before you get started.
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About Gary Bloomer
Gary Bloomer is originally from the UK. These days he lives just outside Philadelphia. Since 2009, he's answered over 5,000 marketing, branding, and social media strategy questions from small business owners from all over the world on the Know-How Exchange of MarketingProfs.com. An award winning graphic designer and a staunch advocate for the little guy, his website is a love letter to the world of small business marketing. To learn more, read the About page.
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