I recently got the following email from one of our inbound marketing clients:
"I had another organization call us and wanted to use some of our blogs. Could we let them use some of them if they gave us credit or linked back to our site? And how would that affect our SEO? What is your opinion on this?"
Since this issue affects businesses and nonprofits across the board, I thought I'd share my answers to these questions here, including:
- Who should be allowed to republish your content
- How to prevent damage to your search ranking
- How to make sure a republishing partnership benefits you
First, it's a great sign when others in your field like your content enough to want to use it! Republishing can contribute to your sustainable marketing strategy, and it should be one of your goals to receive offers / requests to republish your content in quality venues.
Most republishing offers are the opposite of what's going to help your business — people looking to have you republish their content and drive traffic to their site. If you're getting genuine offers that promote your content, you're doing something right.
That said, the first thing you need to when receiving a request to republish your content is to evaluate whether it is a "quality venue" by asking yourself these questions:
Is The Republisher A Non-Competitor?
It's a pretty obvious point, but having your content on your competitor's website only helps them compete with you. In the case of our client, the organization asking to republish their content offered the same type of services, but in a geographic territory that our client didn't serve, so they were not a competitor.
A good republishing partnership from a competition standpoint could be with an organization or business that is:
- In a different field or sector than you, but one that your ideal personas are likely to be engaged in
- In the same field or sector as you, but providing a different set of services, products, or programs
- Serving a geographic territory that you've made an active and specific decision not to serve
If they're not a competitor, having an organization republish your content could be a great opportunity to get additional exposure among people who match your ideal buyer / supporter personas. Along with their own personas, they could be attracting yours as visitors to their website — and sending that traffic to you via links in your republished content.
If they're doing what you do, and competing for your audience, they're most likely not going to be asking to republish your content, and if they do, they most likely won't agree to your terms (see below, What the Republisher Needs To Do).
Are You Being Compensated?
You should be, even if that compensation is non-monetary. You invested in creating the content. If your compensation is intended to be you getting traffic to your site, that will happen if the other content on their site (not your blogs) attracts visitors who would be a good audience for you. This all assumes canonical URLs are going to be used by the republisher — see below. If they are not proposing to use canonical URLs, your answer should be no.
If, based on answers to the above questions, this republishing partnership is a good fit, there are some key actions that the republisher needs to take to protect your SEO rankings, ownership of the content, investment in your content strategy, and interest in the partnership. These should be agreed to in writing before anything is republished.
What The Republisher Needs To Do
And let me re-emphasize that these things need to be agreed to in writing:
- Use a canonical tag. A canonical tag is HTML markup that points back to the original URL (on your blog). This tells search engines that the new post is a republished version of your blog. Google created this markup to resolve duplicate content issues. It also keeps the site that is republishing your content from competing for SEO with the blog on your website. If the republishing site is a high search-authority site and is used to republishing content, they probably add this tag as part of their process by default. If they're new to republishing, they can check the documentation for how to add a canonical URL in their content management system. But you need to confirm — in writing — that they are going to do this before agreeing to move forward.
- Keep your byline on the post. Be 100% clear with the republisher that the blog posts will list you as the author. Being a ghost-writer doesn't build the thought leadership of your organization, and if your ideal personas read your content attributed to different authors in multiple places, they may assume all of your content is syndicated, which detracts from your investment in your content marketing strategy.
- Publish a link to the original content on your website. You might also require that there be links to your site on your bio and / or in a call-to-action.
- Have you approve each piece of content they're going to use, including any changes they want to suggest. This ensures that you're putting your best foot forward in all digital venues. Often it makes perfect sense to modify a headline or tweak the text for a slightly different audience — you just need to approve those changes or make them yourself. Approval also ensures that your republishing partner isn't using anything from your site that's outdated. If you make updates, you can apply them to your site as well!
Republishing is a great way to get more mileage out of the content you've worked so hard to create. When it's done right, it can lead to productive partnerships with others in your field or sector, and help make your marketing more sustainable!