People often ask themselves: should I be publishing my blogs on hosted platforms like LinkedIn, Medium and Quora? You may have gotten this idea after landing on an article that got massive amounts of engagement and thought: “I want this too!”

Publishing on hosted platforms has its pros and cons, and there's a middle-ground option we call content syndication. We'll break it all down to help you make a well-informed decision about which platform is best for you.

Short-Term or Long-Term Success?

If you’re seeking a short-term gain, publishing on a hosted blog platform can work superbly for you. You can get started right away, and each of these platforms is a community in itself. Additionally, you get to efficiently tap into your existing network.

But what does it bring you long-term? Not much, as you are essentially growing someone else’s platform for them, rather than your own. Your own site may be getting a link every now and then from the articles, but you’re getting nowhere with ranking your own site.

At the end of the day, you’ve invested in something that you don’t own or control. If you want long-term gain, then you need to focus on growing your own website.

Having said that, it’s still important to look at the upsides and downsides of publishing on external blogging platforms, to make a well-informed decision about this.

Related Article: Medium vs. WordPress: Battle of the Blogging Platforms

The Benefits of Publishing on Hosted Platforms

Let's be clear: publishing on hosted platform offers plenty of benefits and opportunities, including:

  • A quick start: You can get started in minutes.
  • No costs: There are no costs involved — it’s free to use.
  • No maintenance: You don’t have to do any technical maintenance.
  • Access to platform traffic: You’ll be publishing on a platform with significant existing traffic. Thousands of potential readers are just one click away. And if you do well, you can get a piece of that sweet pie. Medium, for instance, sends its daily digest emails to hundreds of thousands of users. Getting this kind of traffic can be a game changer.
  • Leverage from your existing network: You get to leverage your existing network efficiently. If you’re publishing on LinkedIn, that’s done by default, and if you choose Medium or Quora, they too let you hook into your existing social media accounts to find and connect with people in your network.
  • High authority sites: From an SEO standpoint, LinkedIn, Medium and Quora are all highly authoritative sites. When you publish on these platforms, you benefit from that authority.

The Downsides of Publishing on Hosted Platforms

Publishing on hosted platforms is not all rainbows and unicorns, it also has its downsides:

  • No customization: You’re not able to apply your own design or make technical changes to the platform, or at the very least include call-to-action buttons that fit in with your own site. This limits your brand exposure, your success and your conversions.
  • No backlinks to your site: When one of your articles goes viral and gets hundreds of backlinks, these are all pointing to the hosted platform, rather than your own site.
  • No retargeting: Hosted platforms don’t provide for retargeting. So if you’re getting tens of thousands of readers, there’s no way to retarget them.
  • Nofollow links: All the links you include in your articles on Medium, Quora and LinkedIn have the nofollow attribute, so they don’t pass on authority. So even the links that you point to your own site from the hosted platform don’t really carry any SEO value.
  • No control: Companies get acquired. Platforms get retired. (Remember Google Plus? If you do, you get the point.) Platforms get merged into other platforms. In short, you have no control over the platform.

Related Article: Blogging Platforms Compared: WordPress vs. Tumblr vs. Blogger

Learning Opportunities

What About Content Syndication?

Content syndication means that you publish your content both directly and on other platforms. This can be a middle ground between publishing on your own site and using an external platform.

Here’s what Google has to say about syndication:

“If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you'd prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.”

In addition to that, you can also use a cross-domain canonical to signal the preferred version of the content that search engines should index. This is done by adding one line of code to the syndicated content page, for example:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

You don’t want to cannibalize your own website’s traffic, so when you’re syndicating content, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Don’t publish the entire article: Publish just enough to whet people’s appetites. That might mean a solid introduction, or a simple summary.
  • Adjust the content: To further decrease the chances that your syndicated content might cannibalize your website’s content, adjust it. Often, even just changing the title and headings makes quite a difference.
  • Delay the syndication: After you publish on your site, wait a few days to publish it on external platforms, and always include a link back to your own site. That makes the content’s original source clear for search engines.
  • Don’t syndicate every article: Only syndicate the articles that are a good fit for your audience on the hosted platforms, and that have the potential to perform well there. Often, those are articles that already perform well on your site.

Which Option Is Right For You?

Whether or not it makes sense for you to publish on hosting platforms depends on your strategy and how you feel about the upsides and downsides of doing so. And of course, there's also that middle ground: syndicating content to hosted platforms.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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