Pros and Cons of Content Syndication?

11 replies
A website I optimize at my day job has a syndication deal with a high-authority blog. That blog syndicates our content a few days after I publish it.

I've noticed that, even though the syndication is delayed, that PR 7 blog tends to outrank our site with our own content. For three to four weeks.

Once those weeks pass, it's split for about two months. They outrank us around 50% of the time, and we outrank them around 50% of the time.

And when you go to posts earlier than that, from before that three month window, we rank ahead of them 100% of the time.

I've observed this trend throughout the past couple months. It's like Google is slowly figuring out who the original source is.

So here's what I'm wondering -- is there any real reason to keep this syndication deal alive?

The way I see it, we're sacrificing lots of short-term search traffic for the benefit of a few links and a tiny amount of referral traffic. And since we already have hundreds of links from this authority site, there's diminishing marginal returns. Each link is less valuable than the one that proceeded it.

What do you think? Should I kill the deal, or is there some big benefit I'm missing?

Thanks for helping out.
#cons #content #pros #splogs #syndicate #syndication
  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Banned
    Originally Posted by dconjar View Post

    that PR 7 blog tends to outrank our site with our own content. For three to four weeks.

    Once those weeks pass, it's split for about two months. They outrank us around 50% of the time, and we outrank them around 50% of the time.

    And when you go to posts earlier than that, from before that three month window, we rank ahead of them 100% of the time.

    I've observed this trend throughout the past couple months. It's like Google is slowly figuring out who the original source is.
    Indeed ... exactly so. I recognise well exactly what you're describing.

    It can only ever improve, though, as long as you keep on gradually accruing the initial indexations. The more of it you do, and the longer you do it for, the smaller the problem will become.

    Originally Posted by dconjar View Post

    So here's what I'm wondering -- is there any real reason to keep this syndication deal alive?
    That depends on the circumstances, and the extent of your own traffic benefit from the arrangement, doesn't it? I see that at the moment, it's still something of a problem, and you can avoid that by not keeping the deal alive. You just have to monitor the traffic carefully and work out what it's going to cost you, I think?

    Whenever I've been in similar positions (and that's been a few times, in various different niches, because content syndication is my traffic-generating method), I've just stuck with it, and always been the long-term beneficiary. But this is clearly something you can only decide for yourself, according to the circumstances.

    Originally Posted by dconjar View Post

    The way I see it, we're sacrificing lots of short-term search traffic for the benefit of a few links and a tiny amount of referral traffic.
    If that's really so, I might drop it, I think. That's never been the case, with mine. I've always been getting a very large amount of referral traffic and never sacrificing much search traffic at all. (I'm perhaps biased: I don't really like search traffic all that much anyway, in any of my niches - it's the very hardest kind of traffic for me to opt in and sell to).

    Originally Posted by dconjar View Post

    And since we already have hundreds of links from this authority site, there's diminishing marginal returns. Each link is less valuable than the one that proceeded it.
    Yes, that's clearly so.

    Originally Posted by dconjar View Post

    is there some big benefit I'm missing?
    I've always erred on the side of patience, myself, and always been rewarded. But you may be in a different position, if your benefits from the deal are so small, and you really like search traffic, too. So my perspective may be of very limited value to you.
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    • Profile picture of the author dconjar
      Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

      Indeed ... exactly so. I recognise well exactly what you're describing.

      It can only ever improve, though, as long as you keep on gradually accruing the initial indexations. The more of it you do, and the longer you do it for, the smaller the problem will become.
      Thanks Alexa. Good to know that I'm not completely crazy


      Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

      If that's really so, I might drop it, I think. That's never been the case, with mine. I've always been getting a very large amount of referral traffic and never sacrificing much search traffic at all. (I'm perhaps biased: I don't really like search traffic all that much anyway, in any of my niches - it's the very hardest kind of traffic for me to opt in and sell to).
      Traffic from the syndication converts at around 2.6%. Definitely higher than my organic conversion rate, but there are too few referrals for it to be remotely significant in the grand scheme of things.

      Much of the content I publish is topical/newsy and does not remain relevant for very long. When the content is fresh, I can realistically rank well for highly competitive keywords. Just because it's fresh. It drops off eventually, but can bring in a whole lot of traffic beforehand.

      So my thinking, and it's hard to make an empirical case for this, is that we're missing out on an enormous amount of search traffic by allowing the authority site to outrank us. Once we finally outrank them after a month or two, it's no longer new and relevant enough to compete against the constant inflow of new content on the subject.


      Originally Posted by E. Brian Rose View Post

      If the site you are syndicating to has a captive audience that arrives any way other than search and your content promotes your company in some way, then keep it alive. If your articles do not promote your business, then the only reason to keep the deal going would be if they are paying you for the content.
      The articles do not promote my business, in the sense that they're not specifically designed to get sales or email opt-ins. The articles go on our website, generating traffic, and the CTA's on the website get email signups. Then those email signups turn into small purchases, and bigger purchases, and eventually a $10,000 purchase.

      And no, we're not getting paid for the content. And I'm sure it's making them a lot of ad revenue. I've seen them get #1 Google News rankings for incredibly competitive keywords with our own content, and maintain those rankings for days. They're getting paid.


      Originally Posted by James Gladwell View Post

      The key is always to check your stats (using Google Analytics or similar). They'll tell you what you need to know. The decision will be clear based on those.
      I've got GA and Clicky open right now.

      Within the past month, the syndication has referred around 542 visitors to our site, 14 of which have converted. Not very significant when you consider that those 542 visitors are only 0.3% of the total visitors.

      My guess is that the leads we sacrifice from being outranked far outweigh the leads we gain through referral traffic, but that's just a guess. It's hard to put a number on it. Too many variables.
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      • Profile picture of the author dconjar
        Hah, this reminded me of what Instapaper developer/founder, Marco Arment, had to say about these massive content aggregators:

        Business Insider once asked me if they could "syndicate" all of my blog posts automatically and give me an official byline on their site in exchange for -- you guessed it -- links back to the articles on my site. I politely declined, because they've effectively done this for years without my consent, and it's not doing me any favors.

        I wonder if they'll reprint this one. (Update: They did, auto-scraped from Techmeme, but deleted it later.)
        What awesome irony. Here's the full article:

        A business insider retrospective
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      • Profile picture of the author James Gladwell
        Originally Posted by dconjar View Post

        I've got GA and Clicky open right now.

        Within the past month, the syndication has referred around 542 visitors to our site, 14 of which have converted. Not very significant when you consider that those 542 visitors are only 0.3% of the total visitors.

        My guess is that the leads we sacrifice from being outranked far outweigh the leads we gain through referral traffic, but that's just a guess. It's hard to put a number on it. Too many variables.
        Shouldn't be too hard to put at least a close number on it... You could just turn off that particular type of syndication and then check your stats again in a few months once your content is getting ranked directly. Sure, it's a slow process, but you will get answers. Then you just need to weigh up which one is getting more actual leads, and then do more of that.
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        • Profile picture of the author dconjar
          Originally Posted by James Gladwell View Post

          Shouldn't be too hard to put at least a close number on it... You could just turn off that particular type of syndication and then check your stats again in a few months once your content is getting ranked directly. Sure, it's a slow process, but you will get answers. Then you just need to weigh up which one is getting more actual leads, and then do more of that.
          Well yes, an experiment would do it, but it's somewhat complicated. Political, in fact. Although I suppose it would be easier to sell to the dissenters if we label it as a temporary experiment, rather than a permanent solution.

          Thanks, James. I think I'll try that.
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  • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
    If the site you are syndicating to has a captive audience that arrives any way other than search and your content promotes your company in some way, then keep it alive. If your articles do not promote your business, then the only reason to keep the deal going would be if they are paying you for the content.
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    Founder of JVZoo. All around good guy :)

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  • Profile picture of the author Bill Hugall
    Perhaps I am was miss informed but I thought that with the new Google. IT was content of any kind that works. They want lo'ts content weather it is recycled or not.
    Is that not true? If not I need to fix a whole bunch of stuff lol.
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    • Profile picture of the author dconjar
      Originally Posted by bilkat19 View Post

      Perhaps I am was miss informed but I thought that with the new Google. IT was content of any kind that works. They want lo'ts content weather it is recycled or not.
      Is that not true? If not I need to fix a whole bunch of stuff lol.
      That is not true.

      And I doubt that any content marketing strategy lacking original, remarkable content will work in the long run.

      Some gray and black hat SEO tactics still work very well, until they don't. I guess it depends on whether you're a trader or an investor.

      If you're a trader, go ahead and make a quick buck with recycled, unimpressive content. When it stops working, move on to the next trade. Long-term investors that follow that approach will get slaughtered.
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  • Profile picture of the author David Keith
    another thing to think about is that search rankings are in a constant state of change, but good relationships and partnerships of any kind with people in your niche will last a long time if managed well.

    assuming you could get ranked better today, that may only last until the next major or minor algorithm tweak.

    I almost always look at SEO as a secondary benefit to building my core business. I always try to make decisions in a way that never leaves me dependent on google.. thats just crazy risky.
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    • Profile picture of the author dconjar
      Originally Posted by David Keith View Post

      another thing to think about is that search rankings are in a constant state of change, but good relationships and partnerships of any kind with people in your niche will last a long time if managed well.
      That's a good point. Maybe there's some way to alter our relationship and make it mutually beneficial.

      Originally Posted by David Keith View Post

      assuming you could get ranked better today, that may only last until the next major or minor algorithm tweak.

      I almost always look at SEO as a secondary benefit to building my core business. I always try to make decisions in a way that never leaves me dependent on google.. thats just crazy risky.
      Agreed 100%. PPC pulls in a lot of cheap leads, and the email list is where the money's at. Referring traffic is okay, but could be better. Social is almost nonexistent, so that's something I must work on.
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