When it comes to raising your online profile, the old ‘if you build it, they will come’ approach is unlikely to yield spectacular results.
While creating compelling content is important, it’s not enough to increase your reach — after all, people can’t read something if they don’t know it’s there.
So how do you boost the number of people reading your posts?
1. To fear or not to fear? The duplication issue
Duplication is a risk when reposting. As sites like LinkedIn and Medium are almost certainly higher ranking in search results than your own website, cross-posting your content could result in unwittingly pushing your own site down in position. It’s important to understand the risks.
Research shows that 92% of search clicks go to the first page and about a third (33%) to the very first result, so even going down one spot can have negative consequences for your site traffic. Another potential worry is Google penalising or flagging websites for having duplicate content.
Google’s official line on the issue is as follows. “In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we'll make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved… The ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.”
As scary as that might sound, according to Moz SEO expert Rand Fiskin, those who repost their content on LinkedIn and Medium should have nothing to fear, however:
“I think [you’d be flagged by Google] only if you had lots (maybe dozens if your site is tiny, probably more like hundreds or thousands) of pieces of content where Google thought the Medium.com version was the original and yours was the duplicate.’’
The general consensus is that unless you’re posting vast amounts of identical, spammy content on additional sites, you’re unlikely to face any penalties. Although the words ‘duplicate content’ are relatively new buzzwords, Google has been monitoring and identifying this issue since its inception. Mistakes are very rare, and flags aren’t raised without good reason. As Matt Cutts (head of the webspam team at Google) puts it: “I wouldn’t stress about [reposting] unless the content you have duplicated is spammy or keyword stuffing.”
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So there you have it. Duplicate content is not in itself grounds for penalising action, unless Google believes its intent is to manipulate search results. What happens then? ‘In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we'll make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.’
Top tip: Put your mind at ease and follow Hubspot’s advice of re-posting around 1 in 5 articles to avoid encountering issues with duplicate content.
2. The original and the best: use a canonical
To limit the chances of your republished post outranking your own site in searches, use a canonical URL.
This is a clever and easy to use piece of code that lets Google and other search engines know which website should be credited for the content, and prevents the syndicated post from being indexed. If you use Medium’s importing tool, this accreditation is done automatically.
Top tip: Don’t be tempted to copy and paste on Medium. Their importing tool (link above) is user-friendly and ensures your website is credited for the original post.
3. Timing is everything: the lure of automatic reposting (and why you shouldn’t do it)
Although it might be tempting to instantly republish the amazing article you just posted on your site, resist.
It takes an average of seven days for an article to be indexed by Google. By publishing both posts at the same time, you run the risk of muddying the waters and making it difficult for Google to establish which version should be indexed.
However much you want to share your fresh content, exercising patience will make it much more likely that your site is indexed as the original source.
4. Anybody out there? Syndicating content will almost certainly widen your reach
With its professional demeanour and 500 million users worldwide, it’s easy to see why LinkedIn is an ideal platform for syndicating content.
As a site for all types of professionals, it’s perfectly positioned for B2B brand content. However, if your content is solely targeted at consumers, you’d be better off considering Medium, Facebook or Twitter.
When you post content on LinkedIn, your article is shared instantly with your connections and appears in their news feeds. Depending on your network, this reach could be massive compared to what you could achieve by just posting on your own site. In addition to your real time post, both LinkedIn and Medium send out weekly updates, highlighting new content, which is likely to further increase the chance of your post being read.
On Medium you have the added benefit of the Twitter connection (Medium was created by Twitter’s Evan Williams), which means any followers you have on Twitter are automatically your followers on Medium. This integration can do wonders for your reach, provided you have a strong Twitter network.
When it comes to getting eyes on your content, there’s no disputing the extra visibility that republishing to LinkedIn and Medium can give you. If you’re looking to raise your brand profile, it works — and it can also drive traffic to your website.
According to a study by Econsultancy, 64% of visits from a social media platform to a corporate website came from LinkedIn — and that’s not the only impressive statistic. Hubspot tracked conversions from LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and found that LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate of 2.74%, an astonishing 277% higher than Twitter (0.69%), and Facebook (0.77%).
Top tip: According to a study by LinkedIn, content that’s customised is the most effective. Use LinkedIn’s ‘Targeted Updates’ option to tailor who sees your post based on job function, geography, industry, company size or seniority.
5. Consider conversion
Reposting content can therefore be highly effective at driving traffic to your site.
This is only half the battle, however. To convert, your own website must offer three things.
Firstly, a seamless User Experience (UX). Make your site navigation clear, so readers are encouraged to explore and learn more about your offering having landed with you.
Second, deliver the value promised by your content. This could mean offering additional content on the subject area; offering a consultation by phone, or making it easy for readers to make a purchase online.
Finally, build a loop to keep them coming back. Encourage readers who visited your site to join your email newsletter with a promise to continue to send them similar valuable content. For more on newsletter strategies, click here.
6. You talkin’ to me? Know your audience
While they’re both perfect platforms for sharing content, Medium and LinkedIn audiences can differ quite dramatically. Depending on where you’re posting and who you’re speaking to, the tone and language of your content need to be adjusted accordingly. You wouldn’t use the same tone to speak to a young professional as you’d use to address a senior-level executive, so making relevant adjustments (or even rewriting the entire piece) will ensure you don’t alienate any potential readers.
Don’t forget that everything you post represents your brand, so getting the tone right plays a critical role in how your business is perceived.
Top tip: Research who you’re talking to before posting and try creating personas to help guide your tone of voice and style.
7. Less is always more: don’t publish the entire article
When it comes to sharing your content, imagine you’re a burlesque artist (nipple tassels not required). Great content is all about seduction after all, so show them something tantalising and let them come to your website if they want to see the rest...
An effective way to do this is to post the first couple of paragraphs and then add a ‘keep reading’ or ‘continue’ link back to the original post on your website. Of course, if you want to hook them, you need to make sure your opening gambit is irresistible, which moves us swiftly on to...
8. A writer’s work is never done: take what you have and make it better
If you’re about to syndicate content, use the opportunity to make your content as hard-hitting and targeted as possible. Fail to do so, and your content won’t just be ignored — it could actually do damage to your brand image.
Start with your title — this has to be punchy and enticing to catch attention. According to LinkedIn’s guide to engaging followers, posts which ask a question get twice as many interactions compared to those that don’t. Of course, any 15-year-old with a rudimentary grasp of social media knows that questions work, but it has to be the right question: one which people want to know the answer to, like ‘How do I get that copywriting job?’
Another surefire way to steal the limelight is to make a bold or controversial statement. Something like ‘Social media has killed email marketing – long live email marketing’. Everyone loves a maverick, so don’t be afraid to rock the boat.
When it comes to your intro and first couple of paragraphs, make sure they’re impactful. Cut out anything superfluous and keep it concise and entertaining; this will increase the chances of your reader clicking through to read the rest.
If the content you’re posting doesn’t already include one, finishing off your article with a call to action can be an effective way to direct the reader to other posts on your site.
Whether it’s fresh or republished, it helps to think of your content as a bonsai tree - no matter how beautiful it is, it always needs pruning, watering and love. Even when you have a successful piece which drives traffic to your website, in order for it to hold its value it needs to be regularly updated – which should in turn increase the traffic it earns. The Backlinko Skyscraper technique can help you with this.
Top tip: A picture paints a thousand words so using a compelling image can make a real difference to how many people read your post. Avoid stock images and consider using Photoshop to create bespoke visuals.
9. Remember, sharing = losing ownership
When you syndicate content on LinkedIn or Medium, you no longer exclusively own it.
Relinquishing this control isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s worth considering that you will be at the mercy of the platform and the choices they make. If the business decides to change the design of their site or the site closes down (however unlikely that might seem), this could have an impact on your brand and reach. Facebook has aggressively limited the organic reach of posts on company pages, unless the company pays for advertising there, for example.
10. Opportunity knocks: republishing can be a great excuse to repurpose
One of the biggest benefits of syndicating content is the amount of time you save. But if you want to be even more economical, try repurposing your historical content. Instead of just copying and pasting a successful piece, breathe new life into it by refreshing the content beyond its original character.
A simple way to do this is by inverting your original idea: ‘7 things to do…’ becomes ‘7 things to avoid...’.
Not only will repurposing create a fresh article with a different perspective, it also further reduces the chance of encountering issues with duplicate content.
Top tip: Get more mileage out of your historical listicles by developing each point into a stand alone piece, refreshed with updated quotes and stats.
The benefits of syndicating content on LinkedIn and Medium speak for themselves. If you want to get more people reading your content and carve a niche for yourself, it’s definitely a strategy worth employing.
But don’t make it the only string to your bow. To truly engage your audience, take the time to create unique content focussed on them — because although republishing is an effective tool, nothing beats the power of fresh and targeted.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock, by Urupong