With the high cost of content, many companies are looking for ways to increase the ROI of their content creation efforts. And yet, despite syndicated content being nothing new, only 27% of B2B marketers are currently using syndicated content and promotional tools.  Many companies are likely overlooking the benefits of syndicated content because of concerns that the method has a negative impact on SEO. After all, publishing the same content in multiple places is duplicate content, right?

We’ve turned to SEO and content marketing experts to learn what syndicated content is and how it affects SEO. They also offer some tips on how to use syndicated content effectively.

What Is Syndicated Content?

“Content syndication is republishing existing content onto other websites to reach a wider audience,” explained James Nuttall, content and outreach manager at Healing Holidays. This can include truncating content, republishing content in its entirety, or selecting snippets of content for reuse.

Louis Watton, marketing executive at Shiply, believes it’s crucial to distinguish syndicated content from guest posting. He explained, “Guest posting involves creating unique content for another site whereas syndicated content is when you take content already published on your own site and give permission to another site to post that same content either in part or in full.” Unlike guest posting, syndicated content is a strategy for reusing content to maximize its ROI in the long run.

How Does Syndicated Content Affect SEO?

Noy Atias, senior director of partnerships at Minute Media, said syndicated content is useful “to increase the amount of exposure of a particular piece of content.” Along with greater brand awareness, syndicated content is a valuable tool for driving organic traffic back to the company’s website.

While syndicated content can be a great content marketing strategy, there are SEO risks involved. “Content syndication, when carefully used, can be very beneficial and not impact SEO in a negative way,” Nuttall said. But he believes there’s a fine line between syndicated content and duplicate content that marketers need to be aware of.

How to Use Syndicated Content the Right Way

Syndicated content can be a great strategy to use for some organizations, but you need to do so carefully. Here is some advice from the experts.

Use Canonical Tags

First things first, it's basic SEO practice to use a canonical tag, commonly known as a "rel canonical" tag. 

Atias told CMSWire that “it’s best practice to set up a Canonical URL so that the content provider gets the SEO credit for the article. It is also important to have the Syndication Partner clearly source the content provider within the article (i.e. "Content is courtesy of 90min") for brand awareness as well as ensure the Syndication Partner include hyperlinks within the article that drive back to the content provider's site.”

Learning Opportunities

By using a canonical tag, you’re essentially telling search engines that a specific URL contains the original or master copy of a piece of content, thus resolving any issues to do with duplicated or identical content.

Avoid Malicious Duplication

“Even Google states that 30% of content is duplicated; however, they do not usually penalize unless the content is duplicated with malicious intent,” Nuttall noted. If you copy and paste content without a good reason, Google will recognize this as duplicate content and won’t hesitate to penalize your website for doing so.

Cite Sources

“Whenever you use content from another website, ensure you always link back to the original article, citing the source it is taken from,” Nuttall said. This will show that you haven’t stolen the content and is also great for your SEO backlinking strategy as well. Citing sources, therefore, is a crucial step towards avoiding plagiarism and malicious duplication.

Get Proper Link Backs

“If the content partnership is not set up properly,” Atias explained, “search engines may identify the content syndication partner as the source/origin of the content so they get the SEO boost and organic growth.” The original content provider, therefore, doesn’t get any SEO benefits unless the content properly links back to the content creator’s website and could even risk being penalized for publishing duplicate content. This means marketers should also add relevant link backs throughout the article to drive traffic back to the original website.

Don’t Give Away Authority

Nuttall said, “there is the risk from the author’s side in that the sites who syndicate your content may end up ranking higher than you, thanks to your work.” If the syndicator’s site is better in terms of SEO, your content could boost their rank even more. He suggests you ensure that your site gets proper credit for the content you create by having the syndicator agree from the outset, otherwise Google may default to the website with higher authority as the original source of the content.

Keep it Relevant

“Content should also only be syndicated onto sites which have a reason to share it,” Nuttall said. It’s no use syndicating content to websites that are in unrelated industries. If you publish irrelevant content, you likely won’t get any traffic back to your site and will be putting your brand at risk in terms of SEO.

Weigh the Risks

“It's up to you to decide if the risk of duplicated content is worth the new audience exposure,” Watton said. If you can strike the right syndication partnership agreement, the strategy can drive organic traffic to your site, but a poor agreement could lead to penalization by Google. Syndicated content, therefore, may not be ideal for every organization and you’ll need to carefully weigh the pros and cons before getting started.