SEO

Republishing Your Content May Still Be Dangerous

Published: 05.29.15

In the past, I enjoyed republishing content to sites like Business 2 Community and Yahoo Small Advisor.  I also experimented with reposting on platforms like Linkedin.  Typically (as expected) my content would rank quickly upon publishing on my own site.  Then, the much higher DA sites would republish shortly thereafter. As you might expect, Google would start ranking those domains above mine. But, in a few weeks, Google would suppress those big domains and my post would remain the victor for years and years to come (without the use of cross-domain canonical tags). Why? Because it’s the canonical article. It makes sense. Google can figure that out. I wrote about this experience in 2013.

I was fine with this situation. I enjoyed the traffic and visibility I would get from these other sites. It’s simply smart marketing. But lately I’ve been noticing an inconsistent change.

Unfortunately, I’m finding Google isn’t performing as expected in most cases these days. For me, it’s been less than half.

Working As Expected

A search for my March 2013 post title (and the topic of my above link) turns up this SERP.  This is what I was expecting (and yes, it’s an incognito search):

good-example

Working As Expected – Kinda

Here’s an example where the post I wrote originated on Linkedin. In this case, Linkedin.com is the canonical domain. After a few months I copied this post to my site. Now it has certainly indexed from my site, but surprisingly, Google doesn’t think it’s worth showing at all. That’s right – no rankings for my own title whatsoever. Granted there’s no canonical tag from Linkedin, and the attribution link is nofollow. However, my name is on both posts, but Google just isn’t making the connection that I’m the author, and Greenlane is my home domain. I suspect I’m just getting filtered out as duplicate content.

ok-results

Not Working As Expected

Now this is where it really stinks. In this case, I wrote a post that did fairly well for me traffic-wise. It originated on Greenlane, got a reference in a popular MOZ post, and has earned 40 links (though Majestic tells me most the links aren’t great quality). Yet, Greenlane doesn’t rank for its own title at all. But Business 2 Community does. I also experimented with reposting this on Linkedin many months after its original indexation, and now that domain is ranking second.

I wasn’t expecting this.

bad-serp

More important to rankings, natural search traffic to this blog post dropped 90% since publishing on Linkedin 2 months ago.

A Slight Change In Direction?

Maybe I gave Google too much credit in my original thoughts. In 2010, Google was hot with fresher results through the Caffeine indexing system. Eventually the tuning made those fresher results more relevant – thus, canonical URLs started to get their due. Today, maybe this isn’t the case. We have a few clients who follow the same republishing approach we do, and I’m seeing worse-than-expected results as well.

Maybe this is the byproduct of some other algorithm changes? Maybe it’s a conscious change back to higher PageRank? Maybe it’s a temporary trend, but I’ve changed my thinking on this now.

Do I still want to republish on these other sites? Not if I want to err on the side of caution with my SEO; so perhaps I’ll rewrite/respin/reapproach this content for republishing. I don’t mean spinning in terms of term uniqueness, but in terms of creating a truly new article. Just as some presenters do the same presentation with a different approach or perspective, or how some friends tell a funny story with a different state of mind each time, I think weighing the gains and losses against the time of a rewrite makes sense.

Bad dog, Google. I expected more from you.

By the way, the question of “should I republish my content on other sites” is apparently a pretty common question.  Here’s some further reading I found while writing this article:

 

Bill Sebald
Bill Sebald
Follow me on Twitter - @billsebald

I've been doing SEO since 1996. Blogger, speaker, and teacher at Philadelphia University. I started Greenlane in 2005 to help clients leverage search marketing to hit business goals. I love this stuff.

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  • Neal Schaffer

    Bill, excellent post! I love your take on repurposing content just like you would with a slide deck by taking a different perspective or approach. Similar to the question of republishing content on another site, the question of how to repurpose content for is a growing one as well.

    I was just going to refer back to this post on the subject of my own post on whether one should republish content when I found that you had linked back to me – thank you!

    I’ve still held out against republishing content and require contributors to my Maximize Social Business blog to only submit unique content as well. That being said, here is the advice that I would give others reading this posts who want to decide whether or not to republish or syndicate their content elsewhere:

    – If LinkedIn is a strategic audience to you, you should be blogging on LinkedIn focusing in on topics that are relevant to that community in a professional tone. More often that not this means creating unique content for the platform.
    – If Google & search engines are important to you (I assume you’re all nodding), you should ensure that you only publish content on your site.
    – If gaining visibility in other communities / media outlets to you is important to you, you should selectively decide which original content to republish knowing that you will lose SEO for it from your own site. Perhaps it could be content that isn’t as strategic to your brand as other content or content that never had good search engine rankings to begin with.

    Publishers aren’t afraid to re-syndicate content because many are starting to get more traffic from social than search. If you are in the same boat, your approach might be different.

    Note that I don’t have any scientific data to support the above, but just basing my logic on holistic thinking and best practices / experiences I see from my clients and others.

    Keep up the great work!

  • colmmacg

    Interesting article! What’s your take on rel=canonical? I only reproduce content on another site when applying rel= canonical back to the original article. As far as I can tell, Google passes any link juice back to the originating article. Would be interested to hear your thoughts as to whether you think this approach works and why you wouldn’t use it?

  • Jeremy

    Business2Community.com is rated as a very influential website so it its on there, Google is considering it more relevant interesingly enough: http://blog.mention.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/influencer-analytics.png

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