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Are you using competitor research? It can help you uncover the content themes and formats that tend to work well in your industry and discover influential sites that tend to share and link to this content.
Analyzing this data will allow you to make more informed decisions about the content you create and provide you with a hit list of influential outreach targets.
Here’s how you can use competitor research to discover your competitors’ top-performing content and inform your content ideation.Identifying Your Competition
You likely have two kinds of competitors.
Your traditional competitors: Those offering the same products and services in close proximity to your business or targeting customers in the same area as you.
Your competition in the search results: Those who you’re vying against to rank for keywords related to your products and services.
Often, there is overlap here. But it can be easy to overlook companies that rank well in organic search, even if you didn’t previously consider them a competitor. You want to know why they rank so well, especially if they occupy positions above you.
So before you focus too heavily on an existing competitor, make a note of which sites rank best for keywords related to the products and services you offer. You can either do this manually or with a competitor analysis tool, such as SEMrush.Objectives of Your Research
What you should be looking to uncover from your research is:
Which pieces of content are being shared the most in your industry.
Which topics/themes are trending in your industry.
What type of content is getting your competitors links.
Who follows your competition and what do they tend to share.
What types of content are the big brands in your industry writing.
Let’s look at each of these objectives.1. Research Their Most Shared Content
Reviewing a number of your competitors’ most shared pieces of content will give you an idea of the type of content that tends to resonate with your target audience.
Using BuzzSumo, you can enter the domain names of your competitors and view detailed stats on their most shared content.
At the most basic level you’ll end up with a table containing the number of social shares for each of that website’s posts, ordered by the highest number of social shares:
This information is hugely valuable, but it’s important not to focus too much on just one competitor. Instead, collect data from multiple competitors to look for trends.2. Find Trending Topics in Your Industry
To find trends, try to answer the following questions:
Do certain topics tend to generate a lot of shares for your competition? If a topic such as “mobile SEO” is generating traction for your competition, then it might be a good idea to create some content focused around that topic.
Do certain formats (e.g. videos) get more shares than regular posts? If videos on a certain topic tend to get the most shares, then you might want to consider creating your own video if you’re planning content about that same topic. To get this info, navigate to the Content Analysis tab on BuzzSumo and review the shares by content type chart:
Does one social platform tend to generate more shares than others in your industry? Visual content such as infographics and lifestyle photography may tend to generate more shares on platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram.
Don’t simply replicate your competitors’ top-performing posts. The goal of competitor research is to get a better idea of popular topics, format, and platforms in your industry to better inform your own content ideation process.3. Discover Their Best Backlinks
Getting links to your content from relevant and high-authority sites can help improve your visibility in Google’s search results. Therefore, it’s important to research which pieces of content are earning links for your competitors.
Content that generates a lot of social media shares and engagement also tends to attract links – but not always. So it’s still important to research which types of content are generating your competition links separately to share stats.
You can use Ahrefs to review the most linked content on your competitors’ sites. Here you’ll be able to generate a list of URLs that have historically attracted the most links:
Additionally, you can then filter down to their top linked content now returning 404s and use this as the basis of a broken link building campaign:
Finally, make sure to check out the Ahrefs Best by Link Growth report to review which pieces of content have been generating links to your competitors’ sites in the last 30 days:
This report can help you identify trending topics. For example, if you spot a common theme between your competitors’ recent links, it may pay to write a post around the same topic!4. Who Shares Their Content
Reviewing the individuals and businesses who share your competitors’ content can help you identify influential bloggers, social media influencers, and journalists with a significant following to help amplify the content you create.
To get this data you can again use BuzzSumo, this time utilizing the View Sharers feature alongside any piece of content:
In the ‘view sharers’ report, you can order by regularity of retweets, number of followers, and the page/domain authority of the URL displayed on their Twitter bio.
While you can never guarantee that these individuals will also share your content, you can export the data for use when conducting outreach:
If you already have a credible brand, you could even contact relevant influencers and request their contribution to an industry roundup piece as a way of piggybacking on their authority and boosting your chances of acquiring links and shares.
For deeper analysis, you can use a tool like Followerwonk to review your competitors’ social media following, common retweets, and favorites, along with who they mention most often.5. How to Keep Track of Competitor Updates
In addition to carrying out in-depth research on an ad-hoc basis, set up Google Alerts to keep track of your competitors’ brand mentions on the web, which in turn helps you see what kind of content is earning them coverage online.
This is also a great way to discover brand mentions and link opportunities for your own brand.Conclusion
Researching your competitors is an essential part of the content ideation process. When you know what’s working for your competition, you’ll be able to make informed decisions around topics, formats, and outreach targets when brainstorming your own content ideas.
When discovering that your competitor gets a ton of links and shares to a particular piece of content, it can be tempting to simply tweak and replicate. You might have success with that tactic, but imitation will never position you top of mind with your target audience. The best way is to use this information from your competitors as a starting point for your own content ideation.
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Social media strategy and planning essentials
It’s important to know what other organisations in your market are doing on social media, to give you context for the current role social plays in customer communication. The aim of competitor analysis is to learn from the state of play and identify strategic opportunities.
This article looks at the types of competitor analysis you can and should be doing to help inform your social media strategy.1. Audit scope of competitor activity
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The screenshot below shows a Twitter feed comparison of 3 leading US apparel retailers. It demonstrates the visual similarities and difference between the profiles – you’ll notice that Freepeople and Abercrombie are very similar, dominated by strong visual posts, but Bonobos has more text updates in the timeline.
Is this good or bad?
Check to see where customer activity is greatest. Bonobos actually does a lot of retweeting of other people’s content but has low level engagement and a very low activity rate in general; the 17th – 19th tweets in the timeline dated back to Black Friday weekend in November, as this screenshot is from mid-March!
Seek to answer the following questions:
Are there core channels that every organisation is active on?
How are our key competitors using each channel to meet their goals of sales, brand engagement and customer service?
What is the frequency of updates?
What is the balance between personal vs. automated updates?
What content is being used and how?
Are they creating tailored content for each channel?2. Assess role of social as customer service
Some industries have been smart at aligning social media with customer service, telcos being a good example. Brands like BT have dedicated Twitter accounts for customer care, separate to the marketing accounts. Twitter data shows significant growth in tweets aimed at brand and service handles, rather than general handles. And companies are getting better at responding to service requests – according to Harvard Business Review, 46% tweets had no response in Feb 2014 vs. 38% in Feb 2023.
There’s a 122 page guide from Twitter outlining the era of customer service on Twitter:
“Fifty years ago, the 1-800 number revolutionized customer service. Customers suddenly had a free, live connection to companies from the comfort of their homes. We are at a similar inflection point for how brands deliver customer service: today, people are contacting brands via Twitter with the expectation of a helpful and human response; all on stage for the world to see.”
So take a peek at how well your competitors support and service their customers via social networks. Check to see if there are any complaints – are they proactive in responding, do they make the response public so people know they’re listening?
Also check for the tone and style of response. Are they helpful and flexible, or do they get confrontational because they don’t like criticism? If your competitors are poor at providing customer service socially, it could be a quick win for you to put this in place.
Seek to answer the following questions:
Do any competitors separate customer service from marketing e.g. separate customer service Twitter account?
Do they personalise with the names/initials of the people posting updates?
Are they constructive and helpful in how they handle customer enquiries.3. Assess competitor strengths & weaknesses
You can’t do everything at once, so it pays to use a structured approach to comparing competitors strengths and weaknesses to help you identify gaps. You’re looking for the following things:
What everyone does well that you need to cover as a minimum
What nobody does well, so you can swoop in and become the leader
What customers respond to the most/best.
I find it helpful to create a simple competitor matrix and rate each capability based on a set of criteria. For example, I use FQR criteria (my own made up cocktail):
Frequency – are they doing this regularly, or is it an ad-hoc activity that doesn’t have continuity? Continuity is best as it provides reliability.
Quality – do what degree of quality do they do the activity? Does it come across credible, does it reflect well on the brand? For example, are images high quality or pixelated, is copy accurate and error free?
Relevance – is the content appropriate for the audience? For example, does the copy speak to the audience and is it accessible to them, such as jargon free copy to a non-technical audience.
I split out each channel into a set of activities I want to compare competitors against, and use a simple numbered rating system – whoever gets the highest score is the best performer. It’s not a scientific method but it does give me a useful comparative starting point.
Seek to answer the following questions:
What do competitors do brilliantly that will be expensive/time consuming to compete with?
What gaps are there in the market where we can realistically be the best in class for customers?
What can we learn from what these companies do well/poorly?
There are many tools you can use to analyse your competitors. If starting out with a small budget it’s best to tap into free tools like LinkTally (created by @danzarrella at Hubspot) and SharedCount, which lets you submit URLs and see where it has been shared socially. You can reduce the manual overload by signing up for a paid subscription, which gives access to tools like bulk URL upload.
There are others tools on the market that provide different competitor analysis options, including Social Crawlytics and BuzzSumo (great for seeing which Twitter users have shared content + identifying influencers).4. Identify what customers respond to
Being active doesn’t mean being heard. There’s a big difference between an active social channel and an engaged social audience. Smart marketers measure success based on audience engagement, not level of activity from their marketing team.
So take the time to trawl your competitors’ profiles and see which updates are getting the most attention from followers:
Twitter – which posts have the most retweets, likes, replies?
[repeat and assess relevant engagement metrics for other networks]
Which content formats get the best engagement – text, image, video?
What content style gets people’s attention – serious, educational, funny, provocative etc.?
Does cross channel promotion work well e.g. tweeting about a Facebook competition?
How does this help?
Knowing what works and doesn’t helps you shape your social media content plan. If you know that the core Twitter audience love polls, then you should incorporate this tactic into your activity. Also, if you align this learning with the competitor strength/weakness analysis, you can find the high value opportunities. Below is a quick and easy way to visualise opportunities:
Big win – where competitors aren’t highly active but customer engagement with this type of content is really high
Loss leader – where engagement is high but so is competitor activity, so you need to compete but it will take more resource effort and therefore typically lower ROI
Space filler – customer activity is low and competitors aren’t doing much, so you could actually be the market leader, albeit only engaging a small audience
Low value – with low customer interest but high competitor activity, this is the lowest value quadrant and little justification to invest.5. Use this knowledge to inform your strategy
Let’s start with an obvious statement – don’t seek to replicate what your competitors are doing.
If all you do is the same, what incentive is there for people to pay you attention when you’re not adding value? By all means learn from what they do well but adapt it to suit your organisation and customers – make sure it aligns with your business values. For example, Palace Skateboards has a unique, slang copy style that works for its customers. If you copy that approach, it may not tally with your other content and could come across as tacky if that’s not your personality.
Customers can react strongly to social campaigns that don’t resonate with their vision of the brand. House of Fraser’s #Emojinal campaign is a good example. I’m not saying it’s a bad campaign, I’ve not seen the data, but it certainly divided opinion and attracted negative social feedback because it was a marked departure from the core brand style.
So take the insight you gain from doing competitor analysis and use it to shape your strategy, but don’t let it become your strategy. You may decide to emulate elements of other brands’ campaigns and that’s fine but always apply your brand lens to each activity to ensure it aligns with your goals, vision and comms plan.
So this is step 3 in the Smart Insights 12 step series on social media strategy and planning.
Do you think there are any gaps i.e. would you carry out any other types of competitor research to inform the strategy?
Missed the previous articles? Catch-up here:
In the past few years, machine learning has highlighted the strength of information technology in discovering the fundamentals of life and the environment. With the volume of data generated every day, it has become necessary to acknowledge smart analysis solutions to know more about the world we live in. In particular, machine learning aims to develop classifying languages simple enough to be understood easily by the human. Moreover, to get into layers of detailed study of ecology, Google’s DeepMind has collaborated with ecologists and conservationists to develop machine learning methods to help study the behavioral dynamics of an entire African animal community in the Serengeti National Park and Grumeti Reserve in Tanzania. According to a DeepMind’s blog, the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is globally unparalleled in its biodiversity, hosting an estimated 70 large mammal species and 500 bird species, thanks in part to its unique geology and varied habitat types. Around 10 years ago, the Serengeti Lion Research program installed hundreds of motion-sensitive cameras within the core of the protected area which is triggered by passing wildlife, capturing animal images frequently, across vast spatial scales, allowing researchers to study animal behavior, distribution, and demography with great spatial and temporal resolution. This has allowed the team to collect and store millions of photos. To date, volunteers from across the world have helped to identify and count the species in the photos by hand using the Zooniverse web-based platform, which hosts many similar projects for citizen-scientists. This comprehensive study has resulted in a rich dataset, Snapshot Serengeti, featuring labels and counts for around 50 different species. Moreover, to help researchers unlock this data with greater efficiency, DeepMind has used the Snapshot Serengeti dataset to train machine learning models to automatically detect, identify, and count animals. DeepMind says, “Camera trap data can be hard to work with–animals may appear out of focus, and can be at many different distances and positions with respect to the camera. With expert input from leading ecologist and conservationist Dr. Meredith Palmer, our project quickly took shape, and we now have a model that can perform on par with, or better than, human annotators for most of the species in the region.” Most importantly, this method shortens the data processing pipeline by up to 9 months, which has immense potential to help researchers in the field. In a more obvious manner the field work is quite challenging, and it is fraught with unexpected hazards such as failing power lines and limited or no internet access. DeepMind is preparing the software for deployment in the field and looking at ways to safely run its pre-trained model with modest hardware requirements and little Internet access. The company has worked closely with its collaborators in the field to be sure that its technology is used responsibly. Once in place, researchers in the Serengeti will be able to make direct use of this tool, helping provide them with up-to-date species information to better support their conservation efforts.
In the past few years, machine learning has highlighted the strength of information technology in discovering the fundamentals of life and the environment. With the volume of data generated every day, it has become necessary to acknowledge smart analysis solutions to know more about the world we live in. In particular, machine learning aims to develop classifying languages simple enough to be understood easily by the human. Moreover, to get into layers of detailed study of ecology, Google’s DeepMind has collaborated with ecologists and conservationists to develop machine learning methods to help study the behavioral dynamics of an entire African animal community in the Serengeti National Park and Grumeti Reserve in Tanzania. According to a DeepMind’s blog, the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is globally unparalleled in its biodiversity, hosting an estimated 70 large mammal species and 500 bird species, thanks in part to its unique geology and varied habitat types. Around 10 years ago, the Serengeti Lion Research program installed hundreds of motion-sensitive cameras within the core of the protected area which is triggered by passing wildlife, capturing animal images frequently, across vast spatial scales, allowing researchers to study animal behavior, distribution, and demography with great spatial and temporal resolution. This has allowed the team to collect and store millions of photos. To date, volunteers from across the world have helped to identify and count the species in the photos by hand using the Zooniverse web-based platform, which hosts many similar projects for citizen-scientists. This comprehensive study has resulted in a rich dataset, Snapshot Serengeti, featuring labels and counts for around 50 different species. Moreover, to help researchers unlock this data with greater efficiency, DeepMind has used the Snapshot Serengeti dataset to train machine learning models to automatically detect, identify, and count animals. DeepMind says, “Camera trap data can be hard to work with–animals may appear out of focus, and can be at many different distances and positions with respect to the camera. With expert input from leading ecologist and conservationist Dr. Meredith Palmer, our project quickly took shape, and we now have a model that can perform on par with, or better than, human annotators for most of the species in the region.” Most importantly, this method shortens the data processing pipeline by up to 9 months, which has immense potential to help researchers in the field. In a more obvious manner the field work is quite challenging, and it is fraught with unexpected hazards such as failing power lines and limited or no internet access. DeepMind is preparing the software for deployment in the field and looking at ways to safely run its pre-trained model with modest hardware requirements and little Internet access. The company has worked closely with its collaborators in the field to be sure that its technology is used responsibly. Once in place, researchers in the Serengeti will be able to make direct use of this tool, helping provide them with up-to-date species information to better support their conservation efforts. The DeepMind Science Team works to leverage AI to tackle key scientific challenges that impact the world. The company has developed a robust model for detecting and analyzing animal populations in-field data and has helped to consolidate data to enable the growing machine learning community in Africa to build AI systems for conservation which, it hopes, will scale to other parks. DeepMind says, “We’ll next be validating our models by deploying them in the field and tracking their progress. Our hope is to contribute towards making AI research more inclusive–both in terms of the kinds of domains we apply it to, and the people developing it. Hence, participating in meetings like Indaba is key for helping build a global team of AI practitioners who can deploy machine learning for diverse projects.”
Many start-up businesses, and even established business owners who’ve decided it’s time their business had a professional web presence, don’t know where to start when it comes to planning their website. There are so many things to consider, and so many choices. Just getting the design and layout of the website can be intimidating. Then you have to determine what will be on the site. It can be mind-boggling.
Sometimes, by the time you get to the content portion of the site, your brain is fried from trying to make the other decisions. When you begin to think about the content, you’re probably asking yourself, “What do I write about” or “Where do I start?” If so, you’ve come to the right place. You only have one chance to make that first impression. If you take your content seriously then your audience will too. You want your audience to visit your site over and over again. If you provide quality content for them time and time again, they will keep returning to your site.
Getting started is the most important step. If you know how to write, you are already 95% of the way there. You don’t need to be an English major to understand any of the tips in this book either. It is written in plain English that everyone can understand.
Writing for the internet requires different skills to those covered in most school writing lessons. If you’ve never been much of a writer, starting writing as an adult may seem difficult. The upside is that as an adult you have more experience, skills, and knowledge that you can share with your readers. This knowledge, skills and experience can be valuable to you and to others. Writing an article, series of articles, or blog posts can be an excellent way to share what you know and what you’ve experienced with your audience.
While the writing you need for your site can be outsourced to professionals, it is very possible, and definitely more personal, for you to do it yourself.
That’s what the tips in this book can help you do. Professional content writers are exactly that, professional. They take their jobs seriously. When a professional writer has been provided with instructions from a client, they read them carefully to get an understanding of what is required. The problem with outsourcing to a professional is they don’t know what you know or haven’t experienced the things that you have. They don’t know how you feel. In other words, they don’t have your heart. They can write in the way you instruct them, but they can’t write with your heart. They can give information, but they can’t give a reader a sense of who you are. They can’t share your personal experiences with the same passion you feel.
Writing your own content can also be a very rewarding experience. It can help you make a personal connection with your readers. It gives them a sense of who you are, because you will be sharing your knowledge, thoughts, and feelings in everything you write. Writing content that connects to your readers is what you want to do.
If you’ve never written anything for a website before, don’t worry. You’re not alone. That’s why you’re reading this book. The information here will help you create that quality content. For your convenience, the book is sectioned into the four main content areas: articles, blog posts, books, and videos. Together, there are 70 great tips to give your website the “WOW” factor.
Who is this course for:
Whether you are already writing a blog or have a website up and running in this short course you will gain new knowledge and understanding of what it takes to publish great content on the internet.Goals
You will gain an understanding of the steps you must follow to write great content.
I will give you tips on writing web articles
I will get you started on writing blog content that gets noticed
And we will even go over tips on creating video for your web or other applications such as YouTubePrerequisites
You just need an understanding of and access to any word processing software.
Watching the number of visitors climb on your website is fantastic. You feel like all the work you’ve done is finally paying off. But visits are just vanity metrics and these don’t necessarily equate to success. A retail store would fold if hundreds of people wandered in and out each day but never purchased anything.
You need to work on converting more of those visitors into customers, and there are plenty of ways to use content to transform a popular site into a profitable one.
Here are ten ways to use content to boost customer engagement and turn your visitors into buyers.1. Produce High-Value Offers for Free
You’re in business to make money, so it might seem counterproductive to give things away for free. Some companies offer product samples or promotional items, while others give away content designed to help visitors with a problem.
High-value content like e-books and reports work very well for getting opt-ins and trial sign-ups for subscription-based services, but they can also work for virtually any business. Every audience has at least one problem. A comprehensive content piece, offered for free, can address that issue and even entirely solve the problem.
A free content offer:
Builds a great deal of trust
Answers other questions a visitor may not have considered
Knocks down barriers that prevent someone from making a purchase
Demonstrates experience and confidence in the solution you provide
Tack it onto an opt-in, offer it as a call-to-action in blog posts, send it out via email or as a bonus free offer with a purchase. Whatever you choose, make it bold and simple like Tim Ferriss from The 4-Hour Work Week does:2. Build Social Proof with User-Generated Content
There’s a herd mentality prevalent among consumers. Consumers prefer to buy what other people are buying, especially when popular opinions indicate that something is good or worth their time. Reviews and testimonials are some of the best ways to use social proof to this end and inspire other visitors to buy.
I also leverage images and videos in content when marketing my services or my clients. User-generated content in that form is highly engaging and encourages viewers to take action.3. Post Product Demo Videos
Selling anything online can be challenging, but technology helps us bridge the gap between brick and mortar retail and e-commerce.
You can’t replicate the in-store experience of physically handling a product, and that can be a big barrier in the online shopping experience. According to InlineVision, the most important parts of creating engaging product pages online are the images you use. But don’t just settle for images; create videos that show off your product as well.
If you can fit in user-generated videos that show your products being used, then that’s even better. A quality video can increase the chances of a conversion by as much as 85%.4. Create a Comparison Guide
The online market is getting a lot more competitive. With easy access to mobile technology, more customers are comparison shopping from the comfort of their own homes. As many as 90% of consumers comparison shop on their phones while visiting a brick and mortar business.
You can hook your audience on your solution by creating content that does all the comparisons for them. This kind of comparison report can be presented in a number of ways:
An infographic showing statistics for different technology and features
A “You vs. Them” landing page or blog post with a direct comparison of features, benefits, and pricing between your brand and the competition
A buyer’s guide that includes high-value information and direct comparisons, which could serve as an educational piece to make them feel more confident about their decision after they’ve finished reading
Remember, if you use an infographic or a chart in your content, it can’t be indexed by search engines. Be sure to add textual content around it to make it easier to find organically.5. Make Your ‘About Us’ Page Awesome
Most ‘About Us’ pages contain generic, uninteresting content about what the company does, why they do it, and a list of the staff or executive leadership. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but it lacks a compelling story and it’s not contributing to sales.
This is a great page to get creative on. The team at Moz uses a timeline, images, and text to make learning about them insightful and fun.
While you should still include the basic information, your ‘About Us’ page is also a great place to emotionally connect with visitors. Along with a story, you can leverage the most impactful testimonials and social proof, as well as a call-to-action that will encourage passive visitors to actively make decisions.6. Design Custom Landing Pages
This will help you craft a message that most accurately matches visitor intent and the issue they’re trying to address while promoting a specific product or offer.7. Show Success with Case Studies
Case studies can be highly effective for product and service companies alike; it really just comes down to your offer and your ability to gather the information. A service-based business has the greatest opportunity to succeed with case studies.
Referral Candy hooks their reader with a great review followed immediately by a link to a case study. Genius!8. Build Engagement Through Email Content
Conversions don’t always happen on your website. Visitors may opt-in to receive information and updates from you via email, or perhaps they’ve made it partially through the checkout process before abandoning their carts.
Email has the highest conversion rate (66%) compared to other engagement channels like social media. Use email as a way to recapture and build interest with a mix of occasional promotional emails and a lot of high-value content.
Similar to articles and free offers, this boosts credibility and keeps you top of mind. You can slip in calls-to-action to drive them back into your checkout process later on down the road.9. Tell Stories
Most marketers know they should be telling stories, but since the majority of marketers admit to struggling with engaging content, it’s clear that effective storytelling isn’t always happening.
People have been telling stories for thousands of years because they put things into perspective, make emotional connections to ideas, and captivate audiences. Every marketer should be doing this, too.
95% of cognition occurs within the subconscious, emotional part of the brain. Stories activate and engage these areas of the brain to make us feel like we’re experiencing something. That emotional part of the brain also contributes to our decision-making when it comes time to make a purchase.10. Craft Strategic Calls-to-Action
Every piece of content you create should have a purpose. The content should address a problem, answer a question, or provide some measure of value at a specific stage in your sales funnel.
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:
It depends.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.
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.
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