Is Syndicated Content Duplicate Content?

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One of the challenges we all face whether as Webmasters, Bloggers, SEOs or any other related fields is the sheer volume of knowledge that we need to properly perform our work and advise our clients.

These are “full-time, plus” jobs!  SO much reading is required to really be informed and there is only so much time in a day.

Yet, many Webmasters and Bloggers we interact with aren’t full-time, having other responsibilities, which is understandable in today’s world and economy.

I believe this is where a lot of the misinformation begins. We can all be guilty from time to time, so I point the finger at no one. But I’d like to clear up a misconception about what is (and isn’t) “Duplicate Content” and what is “Content Syndication“.

Duplicate Content is Any Content on Another Website, Right?

Wrong. Or at least it’s not that simple.

Duplicate Content is the same or very similar content on the SAME website.

Have you watched the TV news and seen someone being interviewed or offering commentary and that person is labeled as a “Syndicated Columnist”? Or, ever seen a story reported by the A.P. (Associated Press) in your hometown newspaper or on TV news? That same story will be in many news outlets. These are examples of Syndicated Content at work.

Search Google News and find the same news stories picked up on multiple websites.

Quality content like News, Press Releases and Articles are all similar and are considered Syndicated Content. If the content is good, it’s expected to be seen in multiple places.

Syndicated Content is natural. It’s existed for decades. This is the way things have been long before Google or the Internet even existed.

NOTE: Quality Syndicated Content on the Internet has nothing to do with PLR (private label rights) articles that can be re-used by anyone buying them. Syndicated Content as I describe it is originally written by the Author (or ghost written only for that Author) and that Author maintains ownership, sharing the work subject to the Terms of Use of the blog(s) or website(s) using that content, often under a Creative Commons license.

But Using Syndicated Content Will Get My Site Banned from Google!

Really? Yeah, it won’t. Not even close.

Don’t take my word, see what Google says right here:    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66359

Specifically, about Syndicated Content, Google says:

“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.”

By contrast, what does Google says about Duplicate Content on the same page?

1. “However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.”

2. “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”

3. “In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved.”

My advice is don’t try to manipulate Google’s ranking algorithm. Always has been.

White-hat SEO your sites. Use high-quality Syndicated Content, Original Content (or both) to build website content and to build links.

But don’t manipulate Google, using Black-hat techniques and violating Google’s Terms of Use.

Why Would I Want to Use Syndicated Content Instead of Original Content?

Original Content is always better, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not.

First, what is original? Are we only talking about a brand new idea that’s never been written about before? That would eliminate probably 99% of possible content! Or, are we just talking about content that would pass Copyscape®?

Personally, I wouldn’t want content that had been syndicated to 50 or 100 sites. That’s just my take.

But what about a good article or blog post that’s been Syndicated to maybe 5 or 10 sites?

If the article or post was really good, you wouldn’t want it on your site?

Really?

Understanding Both the Blogger’s and the Author’s Needs and Points of View

Bloggers — If you use User Generated Content and want to grab the big ‘take away” from this post, here it is:    Think like your Authors.

Your Authors and Guest Bloggers have cost for their content, either in time, money or both. You have something you need from them (quality content) AND they have something they need from you (links, qualified traffic or both).

If your Authors can absorb their cost of content over a slightly larger number of blogs or other websites publishing the article or post, they can invest more in it! More research can be performed for the article, it may potentially be longer, be more precisely worded and better edited.

Crappy content is crappy content, whether it is an Article, a Blog Guest Post, whether it’s Original or Syndicated.

Authors — Think like your blog | website owners accepting content, since it’s not all about you, either. And if you’ve agreed to supply Original Content, do so. Do NOT misrepresent your content!

Both sides’ needs have to be met or otherwise, the relationship doesn’t work! Often times, we’re only thinking about our side of the deal and not the other person’s.

Wrapping it Up

Look, if you accept content from guest bloggers and you only allow Original Content, I’m not asking you to change and I’m not saying that you’re wrong. I’m just asking you to consider what your real goals are and the best ways to accomplish them.

Does “original” by itself really accomplish quality for your website or for your loyal readers?

It’s the intent of the person – in this case the Author – that makes the content crap or quality, not whether the content is Syndicated or Original.

And sharing content or guest blogging is all about building relationships, first. If everyone believed that, our work lives would be easier and a whole lot more enjoyable. 🙂

Thanks for your time reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Paul Marshall
Paul Marshall is an Internet Marketing Consultant.And for other SEOs, he also offers services (for their clients), including Link Building using Content, Techniques to Increase Page and Domain Authority, Reverse Engineering Competitors' Google Rankings, Keyword | Competition Research and AdWords Account Set Up | Management.You can learn more about Paul on his SEOmoz Profile Page.Contact Paul through his website, Strategic Web Marketing.net.
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  • Jerry

    Best article I’ve read this year¬

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the kind words, Jerry.

  • http://www.zcreative.com Eric Marshall

    This is great Paul. Would you say that choosing between original vs. syndicated really depends on your objective for the content? If you’re building a new page to try and rank for a keyword, you’re best bet would probably be to create some original content. However, if you’re just trying to add content to your site to improve the user experience, syndicated is definitely a good option.

    “My advice is don’t try to manipulate Google’s ranking algorithm.” – always the best advice.

    • Anonymous

      Eric, you make a great point, from the blogger’s point of view.

      Original content is probably the best way to go to get the page to rank in Google (a great point I considered adding to the post and I’m glad you brought up).

      But that only becomes key if the content is: (1) written using on-page SEO (2) AND if on-page SEO is enough to get the content page to rank (3) and/or if off-page SEO is used, with quality anchor text links pointed at the new content page and (4) if there is enough search volume in Google to send any traffic to speak of.

      This will depend on the selected keyword search phrases.

      If on-page works by itself, there may not be much traffic to send (sigh).

      When all of this is considered, I believe any traffic sent by the search engine to a typical individual post … in the REAL world … is typically relatively small. That was the deciding factor to me in leaving this out of the post … well, that and the slightly over 1,000 word length!

      I was hoping the topic would be brought up in the comments. Thanks Eric for helping contribute to the post. 🙂

      (And there are other considerations on the opposite side, from the author’s point of view … when to use Syndicated Content versus Original But I’ll let someone else bring that up and respond.)

      • http://www.zcreative.com Eric Marshall

        Glad I could add to the conversation. Thanks for expanding.

  • Matthew Platt

    Paul thank you for this so many people make up stories and go on and on about things I think syndicated content is a great way of sharing well done keep them coming if you would ever like to write a guest blog on our site let me know

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Matthew. One problem is there are many well-meaning people who write guest posts and articles but who honestly don’t know the topic about which they write. I’ve noticed this lately about the Google Farmer | Panda update. We have to be careful to write from solid expedience and to double check on any points we’re not 100% sure about, so we don’t unintentionally mislead someone.

  • http://twitter.com/CourtneyRamirez Courtney Ramirez

    Thank you so much Paul! Does this apply at all to articles syndicated on a site like iSnare – I have a copywriting client that submits frequently to that site and a few others. According to the above logic, I don’t think it’s a duplicate content problem…right?

    • Anonymous

      Courtney, you are correct, ISnare (which I have used myself) is not a Duplicate Content problem with Google. It’s just Syndicated Content.

      Your copywriting client will find her results will improve if she uses more than just Article Directories — more unique domains linking to her site AND different types of sites, such as Article Directories, Blogs, etc. This WILL make a difference in Google rankings!

      Obviously, links from higher Page and Domain Authority sites — sites with higher Trust in Google and which flow higher link juice — will also help. She can get her anchor text links from certain sources (like Article Directories) and her “Juice” and Trust from other sources.

  • http://redtigertraining.com Chris Adams

    I agree, syndicating your content is a VERY smart move and doesn’t incur any kind of SE penalties (at least when used correctly). I think there are a few tricks with syndication.

    #1, not to abuse it. Like you said don’t syndicate it out to 100 sites unless you’re a major news source like a CNN or Fox News.

    #2, syndicate to relevant sources.

    #3, make sure all syndicated articles link back to the original article on your site, that way you get the credit for it. If you’re worried your site won’t be indexed quickly enough, simply delay the syndication by a couple days.

    #4, syndicate to reach new and/or different audiences. In other words syndicate for the benefit of the user, any SEO benefits are icing on the cake.

    • Anonymous

      Chris, I agree with what you wrote, except point 3.

      Now that’s Google’s suggestion, true. BUT the Article Directories may not like that (at least if that’s what we’re talking about right now, as opposed to Syndicated Content on blogs), since they want other sites to pick up the article, post it, with the link pointed back to their directory (not to my site, also). The Article Directories want to be the source.

      (Actually, as I re-read your comment, I don’t ever post my own articles on my site OR my clients’ articles on their sites.)

      All your other points I agree with 100%.

      • http://redtigertraining.com Chris Adams

        Definitely, the ADs would not appreciate that at all. I was referring more to one’s own blog posts that are posted to their own site. When it comes to guest blogging and AD submissions, I usually let them take care of any syndication if they choose do to so.

    • http://repost.us Mel Hill

      With all this talk about syndication in the blogosphere, I’m not seeing any mention of repost.us- are ya’ll familiar with it? They use embed codes to place entire articles inside your page (helping you get fresh content, keeping your readers), which reads to google like a link, and reads to human eyes as simply another article. Kind of a win-win.
      Anyone can use their syndication tool to get their articles out there, and Paul’s absolutely right, there’s no SEO hit. If anything, the “links” could actually help, if not directly with your ranking, then definitely with your name recognition and traffic back.
      Just my 2cents, for what it’s worth.

  • Kerry Finch

    Sensational article Paul. Best evidence I’ve found is how much traction is obtained by (syndicated) online press releases. Thousands of appearances of one press release, no duplicate content issues. My clients and I love em!

    • Anonymous

      Kerry, great point!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • http://twitter.com/shazansayani shazan sayani

    can you clear me at the point of mentioning source ? What impact we get after mentioning source in the end of news/article

    • Anonymous

      Google says it’s helpful (note the previous word, “helpful”) to include a link back to your original article.

      Like I said in my reply to Chris, I don’t post my syndicated content on my site (or post clients’ syndicated content on their sites). So, is there an “original article” to link to? (Original article is Google’s wording.)

      If you were to link to another version of your article or post — in content which you supply to Blogs or Article Directories — likely your content wouldn’t be published.

      Good question.

  • DaisyMae

    Woah there! This could totally change how I’m managing our web portfolio. We have a whole load of massive guides and reports that could go on every single website – do you think we could/should do this without damaging our Google Rank?!

    • Anonymous

      I think the best answer is it would depend on what you mean by “on every single website”.

      *** Answer if you | your employer DO own these other sites, I think this is what you’re asking (if you do NOT, that answer follows, later):

      For the page these reports would be placed on OR linked off of, you could do one of the following:

      1. use a noindex tag in the head section of the page. Only have Google index 1 version of the page — from only 1 of your websites. You could still have Google follow the page, crawl it and the links.

      2. use a canonical tag and point to the page you want Google to index. Pick one page, like described right above in number 1.

      Either way, you’d still benefit from driving new traffic to the reports.

      Number 1 is the safer of the 2 options I mentioned. And there are other ways to handle this, but these would be the 2 easiest | most common ways, I believe — at least that come to mind at this moment.

      Otherwise if you didn’t deal with this, that could look bad to Google.

      From above post: “By contrast, what does Google says about Duplicate Content on the same page?”

      1….”content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic” And you can read what Google says on the link also provided above.

      NOTE: And this answer is equally applicable if they were articles or blog posts across website that you own.

      *** Answer if you DO NOT own these other sites:

      You should be fine. It would be like any other syndicated content on any other website.

      Like Eric above, you brought up the 1 other point I had considered adding to the post. Thanks for asking the question!

      • http://myblogguest.com/blog/ Ann Smarty

        Now, not only you are good at writing looong emails, you are pretty damn awesome at writing looong comments!

        🙂

      • Anonymous

        OK Ann, you busted me!

        Hopefully, Eric and DaisyMae got good, complete answers.

        Often this SEO doesn’t lead to the short, simple answers we would like, eh?

  • http://www.ogosense.com/joomla-seo storytold

    great article,thanks

  • Riyasen152

    This is a great inspiring article. I am pretty much pleased with your good work. You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging.

  • Anonymous

    I think the best answer is it would depend on what you mean by “on every single website”.

    *** Answer if you | your employer DO own these other sites (if you do NOT, that answer follows, later):

    For the page these reports would be placed on OR linked off of, you could do one of the following:

    1. use a noindex tag in the head section of the page. Only have Google index 1 version of the page — from only 1 of your websites. You could still have Google follow the page, crawl it and the links.

    2. use a canonical tag and point to the page you want Google to index. Pick one page, like described right above in number 1.

    Either way, you’d still benefit from driving new traffic to the reports.

    Number 1 is the safer of the 2 options I mentioned. And there are other ways to handle this, but these would be the 2 easiest | most common ways, I believe — at least that come to mind at this moment.

    Otherwise if you didn’t deal with this, that could look bad to Google.

    From above post: “By contrast, what does Google say about Duplicate Content on the same page?”

    1….”content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic” (And you can read what Google says on the link also provided above.)

    NOTE: And this answer is equally applicable if they were articles or blog posts across websites that you own.

    *** Answer if you DO NOT own these other sites:

    You should be fine. It would be like any other syndicated content on any other website.

    Like Eric above, you brought up the 1 other point I had considered adding to the post. Thanks for asking the question!

  • http://drhaley.com Michael Haley

    You know, I saw a tweet that grabbed my attention and landed here. But in reading it, I wondered: “is this article syndicated?”. A quick google check shows 28 copies so far which got me wondering: “Is this the original?” and “How did you get this article syndicated” and all that stuff. The fact that it is good makes it desireable for alot of sites. Heck, it would work on my site. But could I use it? I mean, what are the rules? Can I add to it, like add my own comments [you know, to make it better 🙂 ]. Ok. Your answer to all my questions is probably a story in itself… which should probably be syndicated.

    • Anonymous

      No, this post in NOT syndicated. I have posted or submitted it NOWHERE else. It is original, per my agreement with SEJ.

      Sites that allow their content to be syndicated would typically have a Creative Commons logo on their site, showing the content can be used by another site. They would also have instructions about using the article (or post), a Terms of Use policy covering content use and their site use AND usually a tool for you to grab the article for your site or blog. A link back to **their site** would likely be included (and required).

      If someone else took my post from SEJ, they posted it on their own, without my encouragement or permission.

      Ah, the ethics of some on the Internet!

      And thanks Michael or the compliment on my post. 🙂

  • http://www.content-writing-india.com/ content writing

    This is really a great inspiring post. Really helpful information u have provided in this post. According to me, if you are syndicating your own content, you need not worry yourself with duplicate content penalties.

    • Anonymous

      I agree. I would say:

      The same (or very similar) content across multiple domains = Syndicated Content.

      The same (or very similar) content on 1 website (your site, my site, an article directory, a blog, etc.) = Duplicate Content.

      I always advise my link building clients to NOT have duplicate content on their site. While you typically have to be really careless or deliberately try to manipulate Google’s rankings to tick them off, it’s just bad practice to have duplicate content on your website.

      But some SEO experts (including people I admire and whose advice I normally follow) describe content found on ANY other site as Duplicate Content. I just think that’s the wrong use of that term, partially with what Google says, on the page I linked to, above in my post.

      And for most websites, you will need more than just syndicated content to rank well in Google. But done correctly, it’s a good, affordable way to build links that do work in Google. 🙂

      • http://bauch-weg-fettverbrennung.de Joerg

        Hi Paul,

        I had a misconception about dc and sc until I have read your article.

        I have a question to your statement:

        “And for most websites, you will need more than just syndicated content
        to rank well in Google. But done correctly, it’s a good, affordable way
        to build links that do work in Google.”Do you mean, if I launch a site that has unique and quality content on the frontpage and in 5-8 articels, and I would then start to a add syncicated, niche relevant content in order to build  inner links. Would that help to improve the ranking of the site?As much as I have understood from you article is that if I have syndicated content on my site I won’t get punished by Google right?I allways thought that syndicated content is also duplicated content.Best regards,Jörg (Hamburg, Germany)

  • http://nstips.com Sajidsaleemsajid

    Nice post I have learned a lot from this post, But I personally like to write original and unique content which yet not written on any site.

  • http://www.appoloinfraprojects.com/ smith brell

    On the first site I installed a RSS content posting plug-in and added a few feeds to it.

  • http://www.per-call.co.uk Mike

    Hi Paul

    After nearly 40 minutes of searching on Google I think I found the answer I was looking for on your post.

    It means more effort, but avoiding duplicate content seems to be the answer.

    • Anonymous

      Glad the post was helpful to you, Mike!

  • http://www.edwardbeckett.com Edward – Florida SEO

    Great post …

    In short » If you syndicate an article … don’t put that article on your site with the intentions of ranking for it … you may become unwittingly become a page jacking victim …

    🙂

  • http://www.seowebmeeting.com Michael Haley

    When it comes to duplicate content, most website and blog platforms automatically create it. In fact, the top two Joomla and wordpress make url friendly versions, short url versions, category url versions of your content etc. It seems they all get indexed by Google who only shows the most relevant results unless you click the button to show the results that have been omitted. To see this in action, grab a 5 or 6 word phrase off one of your articles and search it in quotes. A unique to you phrase will get very specific results.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, Michael and not only that but there is the duplicate content problem caused by having www and non-www versions of EACH page. Most site owners don’t ever fix that by 301ing one version to the other.

  • http://sidewalkbranding.co Sidewalk Branding Company

    Fabulous write – clear and detailed – I get it now! Thanks Paul!

  • http://sidewalkbranding.co Sidewalk Branding Company

    Fabulous write – clear and detailed – I get it now! Thanks Paul!

  • http://twitter.com/bfinance Barbara Friedberg

    A major site wants to syndicate my content. They asked that I place their widget on my site. No renumeration was discussed. What do you think, is it fair or should I recieve compensation for the widget on my site? Thanks for your insight. Best regards, Barb from
    Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance dot com

  • http://www.OnlineMarketingForSmb.com Jason@Engage

    Hi Paul,

    Great article! Learned more on your post than an hour of searching other sites.

    I have a client who owns a national website with 100% unique content and is adding 2-3 great new posts per day. He is wanting to expand his network by creating small local sites (with unique domains) in several cities (for local search results) to help obtain more targeted leads for his local staff in these cities.

    These city sites will include a few pages of original content, but link back to the national site for other pages. He was thinking of feeding his national blog content into the city site blogs to provide more content for the local sites.

    Would this fall into the SC or DC category in your opinion?

    Would you recommend a WordPress Plugin that can automate this type of syndication (once a national blog article has been posted)?

    • http://www.coast360.co.uk Elliot Walker

      I’d also like to know the answer to this. Did you ever make a decision on this either way? Is this strategy working for you?

  • http://www.coast360.co.uk Elliot Walker

    I’d like to bump the question Jason@Engage submitted previously. Is it OK to post an original article on your main website, and then syndicate exactly the same post to another website you own (which serves clients in a specific locality)? Anyone have any thoughts/experience on this?

  • http://www.eddmprinting.com Corey Huetter

    What a neat description of syndication and curation of contents, this was a great articles. I was looking for answers on this and I think found a great place for all of my answers… Thanks!!

  • Jose Sam

    Hey paul , can you make cone thing clear . Does posting the content on different blogs are called as content syndication or ..when we publish on any one site and we just put the link of published blog post in to different content syndication sites called as content syndication ?

    its reallly informative post , but i am confused with my own thoughts ,,,I love to post my one content in to one blog website ..and after that submit in to some important content syndication website ( 3 to5 websites ) .

    is content syndication is right in terms of google or is it considered as duplicate content?

    Please put alight on my query so i can make may seo good.with your value able suggestion.

  • http://www.veinteractive.com Ibukun

    A great and timeless article that applies to SEO practioners even in 2013. Thanks for this .