A common tendency when starting out in blogging is to syndicate full copies of your blog posts to as many corners of the internet as possible. After all, traditional forms of advertising or publishing—from newspapers to mailings to billboards—rely on distributing as many copies of your message as is practical and affordable.
On the web, making complete copies of your content on multiple webpages is referred to as “duplicate content,” and search engines frown upon the practice.
In the legal blogosphere, duplicate content is usually manually created by the publisher on sites like Lexology, JDSupra, another law blog, or a firm’s website.
If you duplicated a blog post on another website, the copy of your post will almost definitely appear before the original on your blog. These sites have been publishing for much longer, have better PageRank and many more inbound links, so it’s an obvious choice for a search engine to rank their copies of the post over your young blog where no original content may even appear to be published.
Duplicate content penalties
In addition, search engines may even punish your blog. Google’s duplicate content documentation says:
"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. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results."
Besides damaged search performance, a copy of your post on a website besides your blog is probably not the copy you want to be found. Your blog helps you in ways syndication sites don't:
- Allow your readers to engage with you in a comments section
- Lead the reader deeper into other posts you’ve written
- Feature you exclusively or prominently apart from your competition
- Give the reader the opportunity to contact you directly or connect with you on other social media
- Offer the ability to subscribe to your future posts via email or RSS
- Encourage readers to safely syndicate for you by sharing a link and excerpt of your post via social media buttons
- Reinforce your firm and/or personal brand
Minimizing the negative effects of syndication
If you are syndicating your content, do the following to lessen the impact on your blog’s search performance:
- Only publish an excerpt of your content on another site.
- Always include a hyperlink back to your original post.
- Give the syndicated post an alternative title.
- Ask the publisher to use the rel="canonical" tag so search engines know where the original content came from.
Remember: Nothing beats sending your blog posts and other relevant information personally to select individuals via a targeted, more personal medium like email, Twitter or LinkedIn.