You’ve got a great company website, strong social media profiles and an effective content marketing strategy in place. So, what next? What else could you be doing to increase the impact of your online marketing efforts? Gaining exposure among a specific target audience is what marketing is all about. That means maximizing the reach of online content is now a key objective for most B2B marketing teams.
Keeping a regular flow of relevant and interesting content across all communication channels can sometimes prove a challenge. It needs to impact on as many of the ‘right’ kind of people as possible and depending on what your individual company goals are, influence them in a certain way.
When it comes to digital marketing, there are three main types of content that should form part of the mix:
- Original content – which you have created, everything from blogs to video, Slideshares and graphics
- Curated content – which you have found elsewhere and will be of value to your target audience (setting up GoogleAlerts, keyword searches and using tools like Talkwalker can help make finding this type of content a little easier)
- Syndicated content – which is content copied with the author’s permission, whether that is your content offer out to others, or you’ve copied someone else’s
For it all to work like a well-oiled machine, you need to find an effective balance between these different types of content and to be clear on exactly where they will all sit within your broader B2B marketing plans.
In this blog, we’re going to be taking a closer look at content syndication – what it is, to how it works and what you need to know when it comes to making it work alongside SEO.
What is content syndication?
If you’ve surfed the web and visited a news or entertainment site recently, then you’ve probably seen content syndication in action. Yahoo News, CNN and Forbes are just a few examples of sites that are open to it.
It’s not a particularly new concept – bloggers have been partnering up for years in a similar way – but the way the tactic is now being used by marketing teams and online media is becoming increasingly sophisticated.
The basic idea of online content syndication is that a piece of content is copied and shared – either partially or in its entirety – with permission of the author. The most obvious sign that a piece of content has been syndicated will be a message displayed next to it, such as ‘This article originally appeared on..’.
How does it work?
For B2B marketers, content syndication can be a two-way street.
You can offer your content to a third party website, with the aim of capitalizing on their established audience. Or in reverse, you could use content created by others on your own website, as a way to plug any knowledge gaps or bring something fresh and new.
If you come across someone who is particularly strong in an area where your team may be lacking, then it’s always worth considering any ways you may be able to partner up and this is one of them.
Why do it?
The main objective of content syndication within a B2B marketing context will usually be lead generation. It can, however, have benefits in several other ways too. This includes positioning the company as a thought leader and increasing brand awareness and visibility.
The results you achieve will depend on a number of factors, including the channel used, who the syndicate partners are and what the content itself is. How you measure and define your success will be down to the goals you set from the outset.
Web content syndication vs guest posting
At first glance, content syndication may sound like a form of guest blogging, but there are some distinct differences. The main one being that guest blogs are usually commissioned and written specifically for a third party site. They will usually then remain exclusive to them.
In contrast, syndicated content will already have appeared elsewhere. In the case of a B2B, this will usually mean it’s been published on the company website. The version used may be slightly different, shortened or redesigned, but in essence, it will be the same.
What content works for syndication?
If you go down this route, then there’s one element that is key to success and that’s the quality of the content. If it isn’t up to scratch and the writing isn’t of a high enough standard, then you’re never going to do well.
Need to understand your audience
The second point is that you need to fully understand the target audience and what will be of interest to them. That goes for both content you may choose to share on your website and across social media, and also any content you offer out. You need to know what will be of value and relevant to the audience of the third-party site, as well as offering something that will fit in with the style and language of the site.
When you think about content to syndicate, don’t just get stuck thinking solely about blogs. Valuable and interesting content will come in all shapes and forms. Again, think about the audience. Will they respond to video, infographics, Slideshares? Most likely, a mix of content types will be the best way to keep a comms channel interesting. Consider all the content you currently possess and see if there is any way it could be repurposed to make it a better fit, or to get more use out of it.
Have a plan
Before getting stuck into content syndication, you need to be clear on exactly what it is you want to achieve. Is it to drive traffic to your website? Is it to build brand awareness? Referring back to the overall goals of the business will help you here.
If driving web traffic is your aim, then it may not be helped by syndication, as you may end up knocking your own content down the search engine rankings. But if building brand awareness is top of the wish list, then it could be great for you.
7 step plan to getting started
When it comes to getting your content run on a third party site, there are 7 key steps you need to follow:
1. Prove your worth – You may already tick this box by having a well-read and well-established company blog. Another way to do it is to start by seeking out guest blogging opportunities. Prove the quality of your content and that audiences like it.
2. Make a list of potential web partners – Next, start thinking about where you could target. You’re looking here for those sites that have already built up an audience that you’d like to tap into.
3. Plan your approach – For each site on your list, you then need to explore the site to a) check they may be open to syndicated content and b) see what type of content would be best to offer them. It needs to be a good ‘fit’ for them.
4. Draft your pitch – Now find out who the best person is going to be for you to pitch to, such as the web editor. Make sure you have the correct contact details for them and then draft your email pitch. Keep it short and to the point. The question you need to answer for them is ‘why would it benefit us to run your content’. Remember, you need to prove your worth, so spell out the success you’ve already had with your content.
5. Be proactive – If you haven’t heard anything back after a period of time then don’t give up. Look for other opportunities that may make your offer more appealing. For example, see if the website includes a forward features list detailing what is coming up. Or see if they plug any particular topics that are going to be covered soon. Think of a way you may be able to tie-in to those topics.
6. Be responsive – If you get a positive response then be super helpful. If they need a title, summary, thumbnail image, or anything extra, get it across to them fast. Also, make sure you ask for a backlink to your website to be included. (We will come on to other SEO issues in a minute that you may want to discuss with them).
7. Keep the relationship going – Once you’ve had a blog syndicated, make the most of it. Keep that relationship going and see if you can make it a regular thing.
Potential issues to be aware of
There are a few potential pitfalls when it comes to online content syndication, especially with regards to your SEO. Here’s what you need to think about:
- Content duplication – Syndicated content is essentially the duplication of online content that has already been published
- Outranking your own content – You may find you end up pushing yourself down Google’s ranking, undoing some of your hard work
- Collecting email addresses is more difficult – There isn’t usually an easy way to collect email addresses in the same way as when you use content on your own website
Dealing with issues of SEO
SEO is a complex and continually evolving area of digital communications. It is always advisable to speak to an expert in this area when you’re putting your plans together. That way you can ensure you’re asking and doing everything you need to.
When it comes to content syndication, there are some steps you can take to try and reduce any potential negative impact on your SEO. This includes:
- Ask the third party site to use the ‘rel=canonical’ tag. This will help Google to know what the original source of the content was and will also mean you benefit from any links the syndicated copy goes on to get.
- Alternatively, and not quite as effective, ask them to use ‘Noindex’, which does exactly what it says on the tin. It will remove the page from the index.
- Plus, wait a while. Let your blog post run a while before you offer it to anyone else for syndication. That gives it a chance to be indexed first.
Paid services for sharing content
If all this sounds like hard work, then don’t worry. Getting content and backlinks out there is now the focus of a number of content syndication networks – sometimes referred to as content discovery networks. They work in the same way as an ad network, but instead of ads they concentrate on promoting blog posts and similar types of content.
B2Bs may consider using these types of companies for a number of reasons, usually using them to drive traffic to blog posts and downloads that their target audience may be interested in. By using opt-in links within the content, you can use this tactic to try and capture email addresses and generate some leads.
Content shared through these networks will typically be displayed at the bottom of a webpage in a section called ‘Related posts’ or ’More from around the web’.
Here are a few of the most popular content discovery companies:
Analyze and adjust
It’s never a bad thing to try something new and to always be looking out for new ways to reach your target audience. But as with all marketing tactics and strategies, to be really successful you need to be undertaking a frequent process of analysis and adjustment.
Check what’s working and what’s not. Learn from it and improve what you’re offering. Make sure you have a solid plan in place that has been produced in line with the wider goals of the business and which sits behind everything you’re doing.
Lead Forensics can help you identify anonymous website visitors and turn them into customers. Find out how with a free demo.