Republishing Blog Content for LinkedIn Pulse and Medium: What You Need to Know
Let’s begin with a very basic equation that I formulated some time ago to emphasise the importance of content marketing in 2016. It goes like this:
No website = No business
No blog = No website
No social = No blog
The outcome of the equation is quite simple – a broad online presence is crucial to any business’s survival in the Digital Age.
These days, a business without a website isn’t going to be in business for very long. Furthermore, a website without a blog is going to struggle in search engines. And a blog that’s not promoted across social media may as well have not been written in the first place.
This is why content marketing has exploded like it has over the past five or ten years. The first contact that many people have with a business these days will be via a social media post, often containing a link to a blog post published on the business’s website – hence the vitality of regular blog publication bolstered with a winning social media strategy to ensure the content is discovered and consumed.
Beyond the Basics: Extending Reach
As a marketer, you of course know these things already. And, as such, you invest considerable amounts of time into creating the blog content that’s going to facilitate your online discoverability.
How much time? Well, according to research by Orbit Media Studios, which conducted an in-depth survey of more than 1,000 bloggers, it has been discovered that blog posts take anywhere between one hour and six hours to create. The average amount of time a blog post consumes from start to publication is between one and two hours.
As an avid blogger myself (my 1,000th post went live just last week, as it happens (and that figure is already up to 1021), I can confirm that these findings do indeed chime with my own experience. I’d actually say that it usually takes me over the two-hour mark to write a blog (slower than the average blogger – oh well!) – and yes, some topics I’ve covered have taken me in excess of six hours to complete.
This all represents a huge investment in time (not to mention energy) that goes into content creation. And of course, it doesn’t stop as soon as you hit “Publish”. Next comes the promotion, the targeting, the engagement with readers, etc. etc. etc.
With so much effort ploughed into the creation of content, it can be tempting for bloggers and content marketers to simply republish their posts on the likes of LinkedIn Pulse and Medium in the hope of extending reach and, ultimately, value.
It makes sense, of course. We all want to achieve maximum ROI (return on investment) for our efforts.
However, there is a more-than-slight concern bundled in with this tactic – search engine penalties for duplicate content.
Understanding the Pitfalls of Duplicate Content
A very enlightening article – “Everything You Need to Know About Content Duplication” – was published in August by Sticky Content, in which SiteVisibility SEO Manager Daniel Collier was asked to give his view on this rather thorny and somewhat confusing subject:
“Google dislikes duplicate content, as it believes it provides a poor user experience. This was the drive behind its Panda algorithm update, and the subsequent updating of that algorithm to look at duplicate content, thin content, poor-quality content and keyword-stuffed content. While it’s OK for there to be an amount of duplication on a page – for instance, from the main nav, footer and any forced product descriptions for e-commerce websites – Google doesn’t want the majority of the page being duplicate. Plagiarism is frowned upon too, of course, so Google wants to encourage each website to produce its own unique content.”
Let’s be clear. Provided you are the author of a blog post, then there are no legal issues that need be concerned about republishing your post verbatim on LinkedIn Pulse, Medium, or anywhere else. And, furthermore, conducting in this practice will not necessarily land you with a Google Penalty per se (though there is a caveat here, which I’ll explain in a moment). But, what you do have to take into consideration is which posts you want to appear in search engine results: the ones on your site, or the ones you duplicate elsewhere.
How Google Filters Duplicate Content
Google’s Gary Illyes has addressed the issue of duplicate content directly – and you can rest assured that no penalty will be issued.
(The caveat I mentioned above being if you’ve created a website which is simply an aggregation of content that is already available elsewhere and nothing more. Which is to say that if all you’ve got on your website is exactly the same content that you’ve already published on, say, LinkedIn Pulse, then your website will be viewed as having no additional value to users, and will most likely be issued with a Manual Penalty, which will result in your website being de-indexed. This means, essentially, that you won’t be officially penalised for duplicating your own content provided you are providing additional unique content on your website as well.)
Here’s what Illyes says about the question of duplicate content:
“This is kind of a tricky question in the sense that if just pages of your website are duplicated across the web, maybe you have your main website in the marketing website and it’s exactly the same content, you just use one maybe for off-line advertising something like that, then in most situations we all recognize that and just pick one of these URLs to show it in search.
“That’s not something where we demote a website for having this kind of duplication, be it internally on the website or across websites like that. Essentially what we do there is we’ll try to recognize that these pages are equivalent, and fold them together in the search results.
“So it’s not that they’ll rank lower, it’s just that we’ll show one of these because we know these are essentially equivalent and just show one in search. And that’s not something that would trigger a penalty or that would lower the rankings, that’s not a negative signal from Google.”
Essentially, with regards to republishing posts on LinkedIn and Medium, what this means is that if these articles are word-for-word identical as the ones on your blog, Google will recognise this and simply pick one over the other to display in its SERPs.
However, without taking certain actions (see below), you have no control over which posts get displayed. This means that it might be your Medium posts that appear in search results, when it’s really your blog posts (i.e. the ones on your website where all the real action is) that you want to be discovered first and foremost.
How to Avoid Duplicate Content Issues when Syndicating
The whole purpose of syndicating blog content across the web is of course for the purposes of brand building – and indeed, you may well consider this of more importance/value to you than search engine ranking.
However, I would argue that ultimately it is the blog on your website that will be the most important for your business, and, if you agree, then there are some steps that you can take to ensure that your blog posts don’t drop off the radar for being deemed to contain duplicate content.
The Canonical Link
If you want to ensure that your blog posts are being displayed above your syndicated articles, then you can simply use the “canonical link” in your blog posts.
This involves very simply inserting “<link rel=canonical href=“http://YourOriginalBlogPost.com> ” into your posts’ URLs. Now, when you publish your blogs elsewhere on the web, Google will be able to tell that it’s your blog posts that you want displayed, and the canonical tag directs the bots accordingly.
The added benefit of this is that even when external links to your syndicated content are generated, it’s your original and preferred (i.e. “canonical”) post that benefits, as opposed to those on the syndicate site.
It can be little tricky getting to grips with canonical tags and how they work, and so, for further instructions on how to use them (it’s a subject that needs more than a paragraph of explanation, to be fair), I refer you to Yoast and Moz.
Rewrite Your Article
As we have learnt, Google does not penalise for duplicate content. However, if you want multiple versions of your posts to be displayed in SERPs, then you’re going to have to create multiple versions of the content.
This means making at least 50% of the content on each post unique from its brethren (and you can use a plagiarism checker to help you get over the mark on this). This, of course, means more work and more time invested!! So you will have to consider if this will be worth your while
Doing rewrites isn’t easy, so perhaps think about tackling the same article from an opposite perspective. If you’ve written about “The Best Features of Something” for your blog, then write “The Worst Features of It” for LinkedIn.
Publish Teaser Paragraphs on LinkedIn (Not on Medium)
Use LinkedIn to whet the appetite with a (uniquely written) teaser paragraph (or two), and then provide a link to your site where users can access the rest of your article.
You can do the same on Medium, though it’s not something I’d recommend, as it kind of defeats the purpose of the platform. Articles on Medium are made discoverable by users up-voting them – and you won’t achieve many such recommendations for your teaser articles.
You will of course be covering certain topics thoroughly over several blog posts. And so a great solution is to aggregate the links to these posts together in a single LinkedIn or Medium article (or vice versa).
You could call it something like “5 Great Articles on the Different Uses for Scissors”. Provide a short summary, the links to the five posts, and a conclusion.
Create Entirely Unique Content Everywhere
You may of course relish creating more work for yourself. In which case, simply write unique content for your different audiences and never worry about duplication ever again. It’s a tough old game this content marketing malarkey!