Not long ago, I shared my opinion that marketers were being overly worried about duplicate content, specifically for sharing their articles and posts in a variety of places.
This belief is based on two different details: first, that Google realizes there are common and legitimate reasons for duplicate content to exist (even for ethical marketers who aren't trying to game the system), and second, that the search engine optimization benefits of posting fresh content are really a secondary business goal. Our first goal should be to attract interest and build credibility; having Google crawl your posts is simply an extra advantage.
But, talk - or in this case, a pixelated opinion - is cheap, so I decided to test the theory on one of my recent posts, 7 Tongue-in-Cheek Online Marketing Predictions for 2015.
I wanted to know what would happen if I decided to share with my readers via a handful of different platforms, in essence syndicating my own post. My hope was that doing so would open it up to more readers than it would have attracted posting to the Kayak Online Marketing blog alone.
Testing the Self-Syndication Theory
In order to find what might be possible, I started by posting the article to my own blog just like I would have done anyway. From there, I went on to a number of other sources, so that the eventual distribution list looked something like this:
- The Kayak Online Marketing blog (the original posting)
- Social Media Today (the same post with a canonical link back to the original on our blog)
- LinkedIn Pulse (the full article again, with a manually inserted "ORIGINAL" link back to our blog as LinkedIn Pulse doesn't automatically support rel=canonical)
- Google+ (90% of the original article included in a G+ post)
- Medium syndication
Plus, bits and pieces along with custom intros were created on the fly for previews and posts to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and my other regular social channels.
So, what resulted from this self-syndication attempt?
The net result of this approach was that the article gathered more than 1,000 social shares - or roughly 8 times what I would normally get from a similar piece of content. While it's possible that I lost some of the SEO benefit to my website as a result of distributing/syndicating the content in this manner, that's something I can live with in the bigger context of exposure and engagement with a wider, interested audience (and where they can discover it in more than one place).
And isn't that the ultimate point of search optimization and everything else we do as marketers?
A New Approach to Content Distribution?
This experiment mirrored the results I got from another recent test, where I began posting the entire 100+ page contents of one of my books to Google+. The first chapter attracted more than 70 shares on its own (and pushing me past 1 million profile views), a relatively high figure for a post of that type.
The message seems pretty clear to me: Going forward, content creators are going to keep finding new ways to spread and distribute their writings and ideas. (I alluded to this briefly in an article on HotInSocialMedia.com when I mentioned "Authors will take their content to the readers.") The potential SEO "hit" is just too small to worry about, and the readership gains are too significant. In the same way that it makes sense to reach followers and prospects through multiple social channels, common sense dictates that we should all strive to help as many readers as we can with our best pieces of content.
The debate over duplicate content and self-syndication isn't new, and there are undoubtedly others who are already following an approach that's similar to the kind I've tried. I'd love to hear about some of your thoughts or success stories on the topic. Do you agree that it's a good idea to post your new pieces of content in as many places as possible or not?
In the end, how, where, and how much you syndicate your content probably comes down to the appetite of your readers. Which begs the questions: how well do you know your readers, really?