Content is a big investment for small businesses. The days of paying 50p per article are (thankfully) behind us, and good quality content is enriching the web thanks to an increased spend on good writing. The quest for original content has resulted in fewer plagiarised posts, too, which is good news for the people who are paying for the posts.

Copying contentBut you can only purchase a certain number of pieces per week, and higher quality inevitably means investment. Many of our clients need to post guest blogs to build authority, while also gaining traction by populating their own blog.

Without rewriting every single piece of content, it can be difficult to decide which content would be best suited to each destination.

This leads us to a logical question: is duplicate content an issue with republishing, or can you safely republish that killer blog post more than once?

The answer is yes, you can republish blog content – if you’re careful.

Duplicate Content Myths

First of all, duplicate content is not the biggest Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) sin out there. Messages conflict, but Matt Cutts is on record saying that publishers need not worry too much about duplicate content. Analysts have their own views.

Despite this, it’s not a good idea to duplicate content across multiple sites intentionally, or in an effort to manipulate your rankings.

To achieve safe duplication, you should use rel:canonical. It’s perfectly fine to use it to republish content across multiple domains, including other publishers’ blogs.

Rel:Caconical – the Basics

Search engines recognise that content producers sometimes syndicate content. Yahoo! and MSN are well known syndication partners for many large brands. Penalising syndication would cause unnecessary problems for them. Additionally, it would penalise ecommerce sites like Amazon who re-use the same page content for various products, and on various domains.

A canonical URL is the solution. It lets you serve the same content on more than one page, or more than one domain, quite safely, and it sidesteps the question of whether duplicate content is ‘bad’.

It also lets Google, Yahoo! and Bing see multiple URLs as though they are the same URL.

Rel:canonical has been in use since 2009, yet it’s underused because people don’t understand it. All you need to do is indicate the primary URL for the content with the rel:canonical tag like this:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

This must go on every page, within the <head>, where the content is republished. (Tests indicate that it can go on the original page, pointing to itself, but it doesn’t have to.)

Republishing Tips

  • The rel:canonical HTML code must go on every page where your content is republished. That means subsequent publishers must understand it and have it in place prior to publication
  • If Google sees duplicate content without this <link> element, it may penalise the page, depending on who you believe. Content should be republished with the explicit knowledge of the original publisher and any subsequent publishers
  • Test the URL in the rel:canonical HTML snippet before publishing the post(s)
  • Avoid editing large chunks of the page content when the content is republished. If search engines see two different articles, they will count them as two separate entities, defeating the object of the exercise
  • The primary URL, designated with rel:canonical, is going to be the one listed in search results. Make sure that the secondary sources are OK with this
  • There can only be one rel:canonical per page; multiples will cause them all to be ignored
  • You should not use rel:canonical (or any other ‘trick’) to try to outwit a search engine. Google is ruthless when weeding out manipulative strategies. The content that is being republished should be of a high enough standard that it can be republished in good faith

Republishing With Confidence

Content is a huge investment for small businesses. And big blogs draw in huge amounts of visitors. Creating a link between the two can give your blog a valuable boost and trigger links from third party websites.

The publicity of publishing an article on a large blog can increase your visitor numbers and stir interest in your brand. It also ensures that the recipient blog gets the fresh content they so desperately want, and that helps bring in ad clicks for them over a long period.

But most important of all, blog republishing allows you to generate a bigger audience for the quality content you’ve paid for. That makes the cost of good quality articles an investment that’s well worth making.

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Claire Broadley

Technical writer, blogger, and editor at Red Robot Media
Claire Broadley has been a technical author and web content writer at Red Robot since 2010. She contributes to dozens of websites, focusing on consumer technology, online privacy, digital marketing, and small business topics.
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