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How Earned 1M+ Organic Monthly Visits Through Content Syndication [Case Study]



How Earned 1M+ Organic Monthly Visits Through Content Syndication [Case Study]

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Note: Amanda Milligan collaborated with Stacker’s SEO specialist, Sam Kaye, to create this case study.

When a marketer is asked about the value of content syndication, they’ll typically list two main benefits:

  1. Increased brand awareness, as you’re reaching a wider audience.

  2. Improved engagement, as people can share and comment across multiple versions of the story.

But one benefit of content syndication that marketers frequently overlook is the potential to improve a site’s SEO performance.

While paid syndication (like press release distribution) can’t carry SEO value, developing strong content that’s appealing to publishers and their readers can generate massive amounts of link authority back to a publishing domain, and drive significant organic growth.

But it’s difficult to test and implement a comprehensive syndication strategy, so there aren’t many resources about its SEO impact.

In this case study, we:

  • Outline the processes used by Stacker to syndicate content.

  • Look into organic results on as a result of content syndication efforts.

  • Discuss how content syndication can be used as part of a long-term organic growth strategy.

The content creation and distribution methods used for are the same as those used for Stacker Studio brand partners, making’s organic success an excellent case study for the long-term effectiveness for content syndication strategies.

The evidence of syndication’s impact

Before digging into how syndication works for SEO, let’s begin by proving that content syndication works. has no proactive digital PR or backlinking strategies. Our growth strategy has been utilizing content syndication as a model to reach new audiences and drive valuable domain authority. The result has been Stacker accumulating 20K “dofollowed” referring domains and over one million unique backlinks over the last four years.

Organic traffic growth

Organic traffic: Google Search Console

Over a period of 16 months, saw a significant acceleration in organic growth, increasing by approximately 500% — from fewer than 10K organic entries per day to more than 50K entries per day. (Our site used to be, and you can see the exponential growth on that domain as well before migrating to


Backlinks: Google Search Console

Backlinks that appear on pages including rel=canonical tags are processed and valued by search engines, as evidenced by the 8M+ links created by this method & identified in Search Console. The majority of these links are in-text dofollows from syndicated article pickups with rel=canonical tags. This is an excellent indicator that Google is crawling and valuing these links.

GSC top external links overview for

Backlinks: Moz Pro (domain-wide)

Backlinks created via content syndication are also being picked up by Moz Pro and other third-party reporting tools.

Moz Pro reports a steady growth in the number of referring domains that correlates well with GSC link reporting metrics:

1657238511 409 How Stackercom Earned 1M Organic Monthly Visits Through Content Syndication

Moz: individual links

In addition to tracking account-wide backlinking growth, Moz also picks up individual instances of links created via content syndication, such as these syndicated SFGate pickups.

1657238511 520 How Stackercom Earned 1M Organic Monthly Visits Through Content Syndication

Domain Authority: Moz Pro

This accumulation of link authority over time has allowed Stacker to increase our Moz Pro Domain Authority score from 56 to 59 over the past year:

1657238511 967 How Stackercom Earned 1M Organic Monthly Visits Through Content Syndication

Organic performance: Summary

In 2021 alone, saw a 500% increase in referring domains, a 380% increase in organic traffic, and an improvement in domain authority from 56 to 59 due in large part to our content syndication efforts.

These long-term trends of organic growth, paired with the fact that syndicated links are being picked up by both Google Search Console and Moz Pro, are a clear indication that content syndication is an effective way to drive organic traffic.

How content syndication improves SEO authority

Stacker’s syndication approach provides link authority in two ways: in-text dofollow backlinks and rel=canonical tags.

An in-text backlink acts as a signal of source attribution, telling search engines that a particular piece of data or content has been taken from another source. A canonical tag does the same thing, except that it attributes the entire article, not just a piece of it, back to the original publisher. Both are signals of source attribution, and both indicate that a publisher trusts your content enough to feature and share the article on their website.

When a piece of Stacker content is syndicated (re-published in its original form on another publisher’s site), the syndicated version includes a rel=canonical tag back to the publishers’ hosted version, as well as an in-text dofollow backlink in the content intro:

Example rel=canonical tag from a syndicated piece
Example rel=canonical tag from a syndicated piece
Example of an in-text, dofollow backlink attributing authorship in a syndicated piece
Example of an in-text, dofollow backlink attributing authorship in a syndicated piece

When a Stacker article is rewritten instead of syndicated, (e.g., a publisher creates a locally-focused variant using Stacker source data), we request a backlink citing us as the original provider of the study.

Owned syndication vs. earned syndication

In the same way the industry talks about owned and earned media, you can think of two types of syndication as “owned syndication” and “earned syndication.”

Owned syndication involves reposting an article on multiple platforms by you. An example of this would be publishing an article on your blog and then republishing it on Medium, LinkedIn, and other accounts you run. While this might increase the number of people that see your article, the likelihood of driving organic traffic from these strategies reliably or at scale is virtually nil.

Earned syndication involves the approval from another publisher that your content is valuable to their audience, so this type of syndication is harder to achieve. However, in addition to reaching a wider audience than with owned syndication, you get the authority signal of having your content hosted on another publisher’s domain. (Someone decided your content was worth republishing in full, and what’s a greater sign of trust than that?)

Why isn’t everyone doing this?

Because it’s not easy. For the first few years of our existence, Stacker did nothing but build publisher relationships and master the art of newsworthy content. Getting content pickups at scale requires building trust with large news publishers, as well as a large volume of content news publishers find uniquely interesting and relevant. Content syndication is built upon a foundation of content quality, publisher trust, and the technical capability to share content at scale, and these three components can take years to develop.

Stacker journalists are committed to understanding the coverage needs of local news organizations and investing in stories that can drive meaningful value for their audiences. After five years of working with publishing partners, we’ve studied the data on pickups and audience reach to uncover insights into what stories can be most useful.

We landed on some key earned syndication tenets:

Contextualization is key

Any type of publisher you come across will have their core editorial calendar established with key topics they know their audience cares about. They’re not looking for outsiders to contribute to the heart of their publication, so don’t approach it that way. Instead, explore topics they typically cover and perhaps even particular stories they’ve run and ask yourself: What other perspective can I add to this story to contextualize it? Perhaps a historical angle or other comparison

Data always helps

Some publishers don’t have access to data analysts, or if they do, they’re working on a ton of other projects and it’s hard to scale data-focused content. If you’re able to provide stories based on data that’s been distilled and presented with clear insights, many publishers would appreciate that. Additionally, just knowing your content is backed by data rather than opinion makes it easier to vet (and trust).

Help publishers reach their goals

Our direct line of communication with multiple publishers, both local and national, has led to fascinating conversations around their goals. To sum it up, every publisher has unique focus areas when it comes to audience acquisition and engagement. Some are focused on converting users to subscription while others are focused on pageviews or time on site. Explore their site, see how they monetize, and consider how your content can help them meet these goals.

Let’s look at an example story Stacker created.

Feature image for Stacker MLB piece.

This piece uses Major League Baseball data to determine the most successful postseason teams. With data being the basis for the ranking, publishers don’t have to worry about the validity of the order, which is a major advantage in vetting.

This story offers original analysis in a way that can complement the local coverage of news organizations. While a sports beat writer might focus on the area team’s history, current team performance, or other local and newsy aspects of the story—this story offers contextual data analysis that can work for a variety of news organizations to augment their boots-on-the-ground reporting.

All in all, the article earned more than 300 publisher pickups and more than 100,000 story impressions. That’s an incredible amount of payoff for one piece of content, and earned syndication is the vehicle that made it possible.

The syndication takeaway

Like so many other SEO tactics, not all syndication is created equal. Potential clients have often asked me how Stacker is different from services like press release distribution platforms, with which they didn’t see SEO results.

Well, when you have sponsored or nofollow links, it’s never going to be the same as earned syndication. Getting white hat content pickups with consistency is difficult — it requires both top-tier content and the attention of journalists.

So my advice? Consider whether there are high-authority publications in your niche. Study what they publish and ask yourself:

  • Do you already publish content that they’d love?

  • Can you make some tweaks to already existing content to better fit their editorial style?

  • Can you create original research/reports that would interest their audience?

  • Would getting brand awareness with their audience help us improve your brand reach?

If the answer is yes to at least two of these questions, consider content syndication as a strategy.

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists



Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.


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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots



A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)



Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.



To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.

Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

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