The Influence of Syndicated Content on Search Engine Rankings

3 min read

The Influence of Syndicated Content on Search Rankings: Surpassing Originals and Navigating Potential Spam. Is It a Determining Search Ranking Factor? Discover the Answers Within this Article.


Is There an Impact on Organic Search Rankings Due to Syndicated Content?


Syndicated content often raises questions:

  • In certain instances, it’s deemed as spam.
  • Conversely, it can surpass the original content in search results.

Nevertheless, syndication remains a prevalent practice in both journalism and content marketing.

But here’s the question: Does it hold a place as a determining factor in search ranking algorithms?


The Assertion: Syndicated Content as a Ranking Factor


Individual content creators often opt to syndicate their content to reach broader audiences.

For instance, a CEO might publish a blog post on their company’s website and syndicate it to platforms like LinkedIn, Medium, or other outlets. This strategy allows them to tap into the distinct audiences of each platform and potentially create links back to their primary company website.

Furthermore, publications and blogs may also choose to engage in content syndication. This occurs when a content creator (the publisher) consents to share their content with a partner (the syndicator), and sometimes multiple partners, to further extend the reach of a particular piece of content and enhance the brand’s visibility associated with its creation.

When syndicated content is featured on a third-party website, it may manifest in several ways:

  1. Identical Content: The content remains entirely the same, with the sole difference being the URL where it resides.
  2. Condensed Content: Only a portion of the article, like the first paragraph or a specific segment, is displayed.
  3. Significant Edits: The content undergoes substantial modifications, such as different headlines or edits, removals, or rearrangements of parts.

However, syndication without the creator’s authorization transforms from legitimate syndication into piracy, resulting in content duplication.

This practice is unequivocally referred to as “Content Theft.”

Some websites employ software to scrape content from others. These websites may selectively scrape content related to a specific topic for syndication purposes, while others scrape popular content to attract search traffic.


The Contrary Evidence Regarding Syndicated Content’s Impact on Ranking


Within Google Search Central’s set of quality guidelines for web administrators, the Advanced SEO section outlines two specific syndicated content scenarios considered as webspam:

  1. Publishing auto-generated content generated by scraping RSS feeds or search results.
  2. Publishing scraped content through automated techniques that contribute no additional value to or alter the original content.

In either of these situations, the likelihood of your content ranking in search results is low. Moreover, authors of the original content may have grounds to file for copyright infringement.

In 2012, Google Search Central released a video discussing webspam content violations to reinforce this perspective.

This video emphasizes that employing automation and scraping to generate syndicated content is considered spam.

In 2018, a Google Search Advocate, John Mueller, discussed how syndicated content could surpass the original content in search rankings. This can occur when the syndicating website features additional valuable content alongside the replicated material.

In 2021, Google addressed duplicate content management in an article published on Google Search Central for developers. Regarding syndicated content, they provided the following guidance:

“If you syndicate your content on other websites, Google will always display the version we deem most suitable for users in each search, which may or may not align with your preference.

However, it is advisable to ensure that each website where your content is syndicated includes a link to your original article. You can also request those who utilize your syndicated material to implement the noindex tag, preventing search engines from indexing their side of the content.”

In 2023, Google Search Liaison discussed syndicated content, particularly in the context of Google News.


Syndicated Content Can Have an Adverse Impact on Rankings


Syndicating content does not contribute to the improved rankings of the original content within search results. Paradoxically, despite Google’s efforts to prioritize original content over syndicated content, numerous factors might lead the algorithms to elevate syndicated content above the original.

Google employees go so far as to recommend requesting websites that syndicate your content to prohibit Google from indexing it. This is because syndicated content has the potential and tendency to surpass the source in search rankings.

As far back as 2006, Google offered the following advice concerning syndicated content:

“Exercise caution in syndication: If you choose to syndicate your content on other websites, ensure they include a link of the original article on each syndicated piece. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that we will consistently display the (unblocked) version we consider most suitable for users in each search, regardless of whether it aligns with your preference.”

Your rankings should not be adversely impacted when syndicating content according to Google’s recommended best practices.

However, if Google identifies automated scraping and syndication practices, it may be flagged as spam.

Furthermore, if someone syndicates your content but fails to implement the noindex tag, their version could surpass your own search rankings.

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Shilpi Mathur
[email protected]