You Can’t Syndicate Results: A Case for Original Content

If you’re hurting for content is syndication really an option? To syndicate may fill blank space but does it produce results?

I’m talking to those small businesses in travel, real estate, and construction industries here — where I see it the most.

What is syndicated content?

Essentially content is syndicated if you, as a small business, sign up for content to be posted on your website that is not original. You can also syndicate yourself by allowing other blogs like B2B Community or Forbes to post your content.

Essentially, if your content marketing company posts the same content on your site as well as all of their other clients, you are paying to be buried in duplicate content. Who wins?

  1. The first site to publish and be indexed.
  2. The Marketing Company selling the content.

I recently posted this Google Search screenshot on my Facebook Page and it sparked an interesting discussion.

Syndicated Content is Duplicate Content
Syndicated Content is Duplicate Content

Comments from my Content Marketing & SEO Peers

“The first person to post wins!” Jen Miller, NeedSomeoneToBlog.com

“I agree with this. I would think that most of the traffic is going to end up at the original post. The original content is going to be generating most of the real value. It makes sense if you’re a huge producer and struggle to get quality content and need to shore up gaps for a large audience, but for anyone small, it doesn’t make sense.” Adam Fout, Blue Steele Solutions

“Syndicated content is the opposite of original, authoritative insights. I get it that people are “heads down”, but find another way to post original stuff if writing is not your thing. Most people in a business vertical have years of knowledge. More comfortable talking about stuff face to face? Record your thoughts and then transcribe it. That gets you close to having an original blog post. Google rewards those who have original thoughts. Some of my clients seem to understand that marketing makes a difference in sales, even if it takes a while to realize the revenue. These are the ones that are showing the most growth. Coincidence? I think not.” John Locke, Lockedown Design & SEO

“Everything is getting so automated. And dilution is certainly what can happen. Google doesn’t like to see duplication, either.” Carol Stephen, Your Social Media Works

“Syndicated content fails to meet a fundamental role of content on your site….show authority. Syndicated content, what I call ‘aggregated’ is good for social media. It can fill in the gaps and be leveraged to build relationships. Aside from that, I would never use syndicated content on my site UNLESS that was the idea of the site. And that is my Pinterest strategy – it’s a collection of content I recommend reading – my recommended reading list!!” Robert Nissenbaum, Tactical Social Media

Only Original Content is King

If “content is king,” then syndicated content is “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” It’s a ruse. You could even be harming your brand by unknowingly having articles published on your site that you don’t agree with.

Syndicated content on your site might feed your ego (Emperor’s New Clothes), but is it producing results? Does this content help new customers find your business? Does this syndicated content elevate your brand? Does this duplicate content give you authority in your fiend? Are you being positioned as an expert? Are you getting new leads through organic searches?

Probably not.

The WPblab Episode

So, Jason Tucker and I addressed syndicated versus original content on WPblab August 22, 2018.

Take a listen and let us know what you think.

Let’s kill the “syndicated content is better than no content” myth. Who’s in?

If you want to be seen, go expose yourself!

I caught this article on outbound links and SEO in my Facebook feed. It instantly hit a nerve.

Can we just stop writing for SEO?

We have been so brainwashed about content – when we need to post, how often we should post, how we need to create it to show in searches that we have forgotten WHY we need to publish content.

Honest answer, please?

Why do you publish content on your blog? On Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever your flavor of social media is today?

Too often the first answer is something to the effect of the “I need to be on the first page of Google” reason. The second is usually about showing up in feeds. Both are essentially the same reason – to be seen.  The problem with this approach?  The point of your content is to provide answers, information, something of value to the reader, not to get you noticed.

If you want to be seen, go expose yourself!

Back in the day that meant cold calling, networking meetings, and after-hours business events. Today it means the same, only doing it via social platforms.

Get involved in groups, interact with the content of others. Make yourself visible. Give others a reason to WANT to read your content. Write it to provide value, show authority, to connect.  This way when they do seek out your content, they’ll read it, engage with it, and potentially share it. This game of creating and publishing content and focusing on getting it to show up is ineffective (Facebook’s whole reach thing).

As a salesperson with more than 30 years experience, I can tell you the best sales are when the customer buys, not when they are sold. From a content perspective, if you continue to try to shove content down your audience’s throats, they likely won’t read it, let alone convert. Drive them to WANT to read it and they will! They are also more likely to share it and to consume more of your content.

To be clear, I am not saying a piece of content showing at the top of page 1 in a Google search or a social feed will not convert. I’m pointing out that it’s not why we should be creating content or optimizing for as a priority.

All of my content is designed to provide value. Probably 90% of the content I publish has ‘SEO’ as an afterthought, if at all.

  • I write to provide value.
  • I write with the goal of keeping content moving and easy to read.

WHEN I get you to my content, you will read it.

Everything else is secondary. I know you chose to read my content and I know I provided value, you are more likely to comment on it, share it, link back to it or otherwise send signals, direct and indirect, to Google, that it should be ranked.

Search ranking is the indirect result of good content and social networking.

Write to answer questions, inform, educate, provide value. Network to drive views. The rest takes care of itself if you do these effectively. (FYI – this is the method I use for myself and clients to drive 20%+ reach and engagement levels on Facebook.)

Yes, you can optimize for SEO to your heart’s content and will likely show in SERPs. At that point, I need to ask, for all of your work, what is your CTR? Do people actually ‘click’ when you show in a search? Do you even know?

The same applies to social feeds. If you optimize for ‘reach’, is your content seeing engagement? Is it generating web traffic? Converting? Likely no…because the reader didn’t choose to see it, it was shown to them (simple human behavior – and yes, I know, there are ways to show it to them and get them to convert.

So about what started this little rant – outbound links and if they are good for SEO.

Here’s the thing. Many of the bits which are recommended for SEO optimization – all come down to good writing and presentation.

  1. Heading tags and small paragraphs – all about making it readable.
  2. Internal links – all about providing the reader with more related content.
  3. External links – all about citing sources, supporting claims, providing related content.

Remember those term papers we needed to write in high school and college? The elements above? They were required. Why? The reasons I listed. The teacher/professor needed to be able to read (and want to keep reading) what you wrote. They needed to know you understood the concept (authority). Outbound links provide you credibility. That credibility makes someone more inclined to share and link back.

Stop thinking in terms of SEO and start thinking in terms of your audience.

  • What does my audience want to read?
  • How will  I keep them reading until the end?
  • What will provide them the information they need?
  • How will I show my authority and understanding of the concept?]

Then go network. MAKE people want to learn more about you or your brand. Make them WANT to learn more and seek out your content.

SERPs and social feed ‘reach’ for your content is an indirect result of writing for your audience, which is a direct result of you creating its initial visibility through social interaction.

Next time you sit down to write, think in terms of your reader, not Google. Then go be social. Click To Tweet

Robert Nissenbaum is a speaker and you can find out more here.

Keeping Your Audience in the Mix

You have to be audience centric when you create content if you want it to be received well and consumed. So, what does a salad have to do with content marketing?

There’s a picnic tomorrow that’s potluck style. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to bring. I thought about pasta salad which is generally my go-to or even potato salad. So I looked at the collective list. Potato salad is already assigned.  People are already bringing chips. I don’t like to bring the main dish.

So, I decided to walk around Smart & Final and get some inspiration.

I did.

Who is coming to this potluck?

If it were a bunch of junk food junkies, I could have brought cakes or pies. Right? But I think our crowd tends to be healthier, and with allergies, the demographic can lean toward gluten free, etc.

I went through tons of options in my head: cheese plate, veggie tray, wraps. Nothing seemed right.

While walking around Smart & Final with two bars of cell reception, I looked at the list again. Hey — no one is bringing a green salad. That’s almost always a winner!

While preparing, this analogy for a good mix of content that thinks of your audience first came to mind. So here goes.

You need structure.

So, the structure for your content is your blogging medium (your WordPress blog, for example.) This is what is going to contain the salad (mix of content).

Getting this right is important. If your container is too flimsy, it won’t hold the contents. If you want the layers of your salad to be displayed, for example, you need transparency (plastic, glass). If you want to not care about taking the container home, use something temporary or disposable (Medium, LinkedIn Pulse).

You’re picking up on the analogy right about now, right?

Cabbage, carrots, and broccoli.
Cabbage, carrots, and broccoli.

You need substance.

In cooking there are so many aspects of the dish that are important. You have to consider flavors, textures, color — and nutrition.

A salad is primarily comprised of vegetables. You can go crazy and add seeds, cheese, fruit, and herbs, but it still needs that basic structure. For our analogy, I’d say this is the nutrition – the part of your content strategy that is going to teach and add value to the consumer.

So cabbage, carrots, and broccoli aren’t the sexiest of the salad bar, but they deliver crunch and vitamins.

You can have a nice looking salad but if is only a vehicle for croutons and a heavy-calorie dressing, you may as well eat a cheeseburger. Am I right?

You need variety.

How many dinner salads have you eaten at restaurants that are just iceberg lettuce, two shreds of carrots,  and four croutons all drowning in ranch? It gets old. Hey. I’m a big fan of iceberg myself, because I like the crunch, but crunch can be delivered in other ways.

You need that element of surprise in your salad. It used to be pumpkin seeds or granny smith apples. These days, strawberries seem to be the thing.

For content marketing to resonate with your audience, you need to be aware of the trends in your area. What are the strawberries in your industry?

You need balance.

So, you don’t want to add too many of the same kind of thing in your salad. You need crunchy and soft, sweet and tart.

If you add strawberries for variety and mushrooms for protein, you pretty much have “soft” covered — especially with feta. So don’t go crazy and add mozzarella and roasted summer squash.

It’s the same with your content. It’s fine to publish a few listicles, but they shouldn’t all be that. Yes? Okay good. We agree.

layer-salad-color-texture

You need color.

In your content marketing, just like in cooking, color counts. This is the creative. What colors will strike a balance? If I use strawberries, I need something to balance it out against the green of spinach — mushrooms. Tomatoes could have been a choice, but then you have competing reds. I could have used cheddar cheese but then it’s red, green, and orange and I already have carrots — too much orange is bad. You see?

Ensure your content has striking images that entice the reader. Content that is never consumed is pretty worthless. And nothing is as worthless as a soggy salad.

Delivery and Timing Count

In this case, I prepared the salad about 14 hours in advance — like scheduling a blog post. If I toss it, things could get soggy — fast. This is also why it’s not dressed.

So, if your content is timely, publish immediately. But if you plan to write things ahead, make sure they’re evergreen — or still viable at the time of consumption.

This is why I layered my salad with the heartiest on the bottom (cabbage, carrots, broccoli). Mushrooms and strawberries are delicate and so is spinach. They are layered to protect their integrity.

How do you strategize over content?

I’d love to hear how you decide what type of mix appears in your blog. Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is your headline as disappointing as a toy in a box of cereal?

Big promises on the box. Small on delivery. “Toy inside!” False promises in cereal boxes and in headlines only disappoint your audience. That’s no way to build yourself up as a blogger or a small business.

Do you find that you have a lot of clicks but low time on site? Or maybe your headlines aren’t getting any clicks at all. Maybe you’re not writing for your audience.

Clickbait Headlines are Cheap Tricks

Clickbait. We’ve all seen it. Most of us have clicked.

The mad-lib formula headline gets the most publicity but is it the most disappointing?

“[Personal Noun] [past tense verb] into a [location] and you’ll never believe what happened next.”

Now, we joke about them because they’re often formatted like a joke. But how many times are you disappointed in that type of a headline? Read more Is your headline as disappointing as a toy in a box of cereal?

Why should you blog?

We blog (write) to have a voice, educate our audience, and position ourselves as thought leaders.  It’s true that you can publish on Medium, LinkedIn, or Facebook. I do that sometimes as an experiment to test audiences.

The important thing to understand is that those free platforms don’t belong to you. You are at the mercy of their own funding. Anytime Medium decides to quit, everything is gone. Remember how everyone loved Katch.me for Periscope? It’s gone.

This is why it is important to blog on your own web property. I discussed how to start a blog on your own website here.

So this post is about the strategy behind content marketing rather than the tactics.

Or you can watch my video:

Here are the slides on Slideshare.

Read more Why should you blog?