How to Safely Republish Content From Your Blog

Republish content using rel:canonical

Are you wondering how to safely republish content from your blog? Content is a big investment, so it makes sense to make use of it on as many platforms as you can.

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Here’s an audio version of this post if you’d prefer to listen to it.

Why Republish Content From Your Blog?

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 content.

Writing a blog post

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

Without rewriting every single piece of content, it can be difficult to decide which content would be best suited to each destination. That’s when you need to republish content.

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

The answer is yes, you can republish 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.

Despite this, it’s not a good idea to duplicate content across multiple sites in an effort to manipulate your rankings. And it’s always good to check your own website to make sure you haven’t duplicated product descriptions or large chunks of blogs.

But if a large site republishes content from a smaller site, there are benefits.

woman using desktop computer

On a basic level, a clever internal link in the right place in the original blog could drive a lot of traffic.

But to achieve safe duplication, you should use rel=canonical if you choose to republish a blog. That way it’s perfectly fine to use it to republish content across multiple domains, including other publishers’ blogs.

What Is Rel=Canonical?

Rel=Canonical is a tag you can add to your content to tell Google where the original source is.

Search engines know that sometimes blog posts do get republished in different places, so the rel=canonical tag helps them to identify the primary piece of content.

Rel=canonical also sidesteps the question of whether duplicate content is ‘bad’. It lets Google, Yahoo! and Bing see multiple URLs as though they are the same URL.

How does this work in practice?

Yahoo! and MSN are well known syndication partners for many large brands. It’s also fairly common for news websites to republish content from agencies or other partners. Penalising content 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 many different domains.

Amazon pickup & returns building

All of that web content exists for a useful purpose and isn’t designed to catch anyone out.

A canonical URL is the solution to all of these problems. It lets you serve the same content on more than one page, or more than one domain, quite safely.

You can use the exact same technique to publish blog posts in 2 or more places. For example, after your web copywriter has supplied a blog, you could publish a post on your own website first, and then publish it on a much bigger network using the rel=canonical method.

How to Safely Republish Content with Rel=Canonical

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=”http://www.example.com/my-blog-post” />

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

There are a few other things you need to know about safely republishing content from your blog:

  • The rel=canonical HTML code must go on every page at the point your content is republished. That means any publishers who use your content must understand rel=canonical and have it in place prior to publication
  • If Google sees duplicate content without rel=canonical, it may penalise the page. That’s why content should be republished with the explicit knowledge of the original publisher and any subsequent publishers. Never pick up content and reuse it without asking.
  • For both of these reasons, you should test the URL in the rel=canonical HTML snippet before publishing the post(s).
  • If you republish content from your blog somewhere else, don’t edit it. 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 in most cases. Make sure that the secondary sources understand this.
  • There can only be one rel=canonical per page. You can’t trick search engines by republishing your content in different places with rel=canonical applied inconsistently. 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.

Republish Content With Confidence

The main reason you probably want to republish content is to get it on a larger site and get more eyeballs on it.

It makes sense.

Content is a huge investment for small businesses. And big blogs draw in huge amounts of visitors, even if they aren’t explicitly looking for what you offer.

Looking at graphs

It also ensures that the larger 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, content 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.

What to Do After Republishing Content

Don’t let your republished content go stale. Every now and then, carry out a content audit to see if it can be improved. If you decide to rewrite the blog post, it’s best to add a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one.

If you do republish the same URL with new content, search engines will probably just ignore the rel=canonical tag. But a 301 redirect is technically the correct way to deal with any content that you decide to move.

Don’t be tempted to mess about with robots.txt when changing your content in an effort to tell Google what to do. It’ll probably do more harm than good.