This week’s Ask an SEO question comes from Marcus in East Yorkshire. He asks:
If I write a piece of unique content and post it onto my business website, I then also give the same content to a third-party website who links back to me via a follow hyperlink, does this devalue the potential performance of the content on my own website or does it not affect it as it is the original source? Or would you recommend providing a new version of the same content to the third-party website?
Content syndication can be tricky.
On the one hand, you want your content to be read by as many people as possible.
But on the other hand, you want as many people as possible to come to your website.
When you put your content on someone else’s site, you run the risk that they’ll read your content, but never visit your site.
But if the content isn’t on the other site, people may never see the content at all.
And that’s not even taking into account the SEO ramifications of syndicated content.
To answer the question, we have to go to the tried and true answer to many SEO questions:
Duplicate Content Penalty?
Despite what you may have heard, there is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty.
You will never receive a manual penalty from Google for having duplicate content on your website, or for someone else having the same content as you on their site.
But there are definitely ramifications for duplicate content.
When Google detects the same copy on two different pages, the algorithm must decide on which version of the content will rank for a specific query.
There are many factors that go into which page will rank and those factors are all weighted differently – and the weighting of those factors appears to change frequently.
There is a good chance that your page may be outranked by a site with content identical to what is on your site.
And because Google wants the SERPs to have diversity, if the other site outranks you for a specific query, there is a good chance your site won’t appear on the front page for that same query at all.
Does Google Know the Original Source?
It can be difficult for Google to know the original source of a piece of content – unless you have the ability to tell Google the original source.
Scraping content is a real problem.
Some studies estimate that up to 30% of all content on the web is duplicate content of some sort.
And there are many sites that will simply scrape the content that is ranking and post it on a site of their own in the hopes that they can outrank the original source.
The good news is that Google wants to rank the original content first – even if it doesn’t always happen.
If you are syndicating your content properly, there are several ways you can tell Google where the original content resides.
The best way is to make sure that any site that syndicates your content links back to the original version surrounded by a statement to the effect of “the original article appeared here”.
Make sure that your syndication partners link back to exact original URL and avoid any parameters.
Having a link back to the original content is also good for your link profile – so if you can do this, do it.
For further protection, you can also ask anyone syndicating your content to place a no-index tag on the page where the content resides.
This will tell Google not index the syndicated content and rank it above the original.
However, there are disadvantages to this tactic.
The syndicated content will not appear in the SERPs, and you may not get as much benefit from any links pointing back to your site.
If you are having trouble with duplicate content on your own site, educate yourself on canonicalization.
But realize that canonicalization doesn’t work for duplicate content issues caused by syndication.