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Should You Publish Content on a Company Blog or Medium.com?

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If you are (like so many content marketers) trying to allocate scarce resources and choose your channels wisely, you may have had this question come up: Should we publish on our own company blog or on Medium?

The short answer is that you don’t have to choose one or the other.

There are multiple ways to use Medium as part of a content marketing strategy.

In this post, we’ll explore several considerations that will help determine the best approach for your unique needs.

What Is Medium?

Medium is a publishing platform estimated to receive over 200 million visits per month.

Screenshot of estimated monthly traffic to Medium.com

The content you publish on Medium has the opportunity to tap into that monthly traffic and grow an audience.

Publishing content on Medium enables you to leverage Medium’s reach in order to build email newsletter subscribers and traffic to the company site.

The value of building an email subscriber base is in building a relationship with potential customers and alerting them to new content.

Publishing new content on Medium can help a company achieve multiple goals like:

  • Sales.
  • Email subscriber growth.
  • Building brand awareness.
  • Increasing traffic.

A content strategy that incorporates Medium.com is not limited to new content.

Publishers can “repurpose” older content by publishing it on Medium.

Content Repurposing Strategy on Medium.com

Repurposing content is doing more with the content you’ve already invested in creating.

Repurposing content could mean turning a blog post into a video, podcast, or infographic.

It might even mean updating and republishing the content on a site like Medium.

This method of republishing content on a third-party site is called syndicating content.

It’s not a crazy new tactic; in fact, newspaper brands have been doing it for decades.

How to Syndicate Content to Medium

The advantage of syndicating older content on a site like Medium is that the content is already created. By syndicating older content, the publisher receives the benefit of helping to give the content fresh attention.

Some content that has already been published tends to fade into the background as time goes on.

Yes, it can still rank — but sometimes it starts to slip.

By repurposing the content and syndicating it on Medium, publishers can give that content another flash of attention.

This can result in links and popularity which can help those older pages improve their performance in search.

Additionally, publishers don’t need to wait until content is old to syndicate it to Medium.

Content can be syndicated straight to Medium soon after it is published on the original site.

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Whatever the age of the content you intend to syndicate, what matters most is its quality and that it is up-to-date.

Can You Use the Medium WordPress Syndication Plugin?

Medium used to publish a Medium WordPress plugin that connected to an API that helped WordPress publishers syndicate their content.

Unfortunately, that plugin has been disabled since August 19, 2019.

Screenshot of Medium.com WordPress plugin page

The Medium WordPress plugin had been languishing in a broken state for at least a year prior to their taking it down, so it really wasn’t a great option before, either.

A reply from Medium to their WordPress support page stated:

“Unfortunately, we are unable to support the WordPress plug-in any further.

As this is an open-source tool, we suggest you file a ticket for the community to review and fix.”

How to Import Content to Medium for Syndication

Medium now encourages publishers to use their import tool.

These are Medium’s instructions for importing articles for publication on Medium.com:

  • “On your homepage, click on your profile picture and click Stories.
  • Click Import a story in the top-right corner.
  • Paste the URL of the story you’d like to import into the field and click Import.
  • Click See your story.
  • Edit your post and click Publish to publish it on your profile.”

Will Syndicating Content on Medium Hurt Your Site?

No, syndicating content to Medium.com will not hurt your website’s rankings.

If you import an article using Medium’s import tool, Medium will automatically add a canonical URL that tells all search engines the URL of the original publisher of the article.

According to Medium:

“Imported stories will automatically apply a canonical URL referencing the original source material.”

Therefore, all links that are generated to your syndicated article on Medium are attributed by Google to the original publisher.

That’s the purpose of a canonical meta tag.

Publishing Content on a Company Blog

There are many valid reasons to exclusively publish content on a company blog.

The most obvious benefit is that users come to think of the company blog as a valued resource.

That, in turn, translates into reader growth, reader recommendations to their friends and colleagues, and to links.

Links and reader popularity may help the company blog to rank in search.

Become a Destination with Exclusive Content

Many marketers think in terms of relying on search traffic.

But there’s another approach that focuses on making a website a destination in itself.

Sites that focus on becoming a destination can have good rankings as a result, because all of those returning visitors tend to generate signals of popularity that Google can pick up on.

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Google’s John Mueller remarked on how a site can distinguish itself so that Google notices:

“You really need to make sure that what you’re providing is unique and compelling and high quality so that our systems and users in general will say, I want to go to this particular website because they offer me something that is unique on the web and I don’t just want to go to any random other website.”

How & Why to Promote Company Blog Content

Part of the process of building popularity in search and with people is to let others know that the company blog content exists.

There is no “build it and they will come” option.

The process of building links can be difficult.

Yet it can be made less difficult.

I won’t go into a full-blown content and link promotion strategy but there are four basic approaches for building links and audience to a site, increasing the site’s popularity with people online:

  • Identify the content topics that other sites tend to link to and build that kind of content.
  • Be ready to rapidly generate content on trending topics.
  • Identify sites that link out to sites similar to yours and let them know you exist.
  • Build relationships with sites where your audience/potential customers tend to congregate and build awareness there through all available opportunities, regardless if there is a link involved. The point is to build awareness with an audience.

Links are important for helping to build an audience to a company blog, as Google’s John Mueller recently stated:

“Links are really important for use to find content initially. So it’s like if nobody links to your website ever then we’re going to have a hard time recognizing that it even exists.”

Dig into Link Building for SEO: A Complete Guide to learn more.

Benefits of Exclusive Content

There are no shortcuts to building popularity with an audience.

There is only a focused strategy to appeal to an audience, the lack thereof being a reason some company blogs end up less successful than they can be.

For example, one common reason company blogs fail to build an audience is a focus on building “comprehensive” content that beats out the competition on scale and quantity.

Being comprehensive is a good thing, but it’s not always what users want.

Some topics deserve an in-depth approach.

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Some topics benefit from being broken up into multiple subtopics because that’s how users approach learning about it.

Rather than trying to impress a search engine with the authority, quality, and comprehensiveness of the content, publishers find success by focusing on their readers.

Once a company learns how to focus its blog content on readers and what their audience really wants to learn, do and become, that’s when traffic will increase and the site can become a destination that doesn’t need to rely on readers being directed from other sites.

Content Strategy Benefits & Trade-offs

There are benefits and trade-offs to a strategy that incorporates publishing on Medium or that focuses on a company blog.

Old content may benefit from publication on Medium because it relights the fire of popularity and renews attention on the old content in a new audience.

New content on a new blog can benefit from syndication on Medium as part of a strategy of making the presence of a new blog known to the wider world.

Finally, publishing content that is exclusive to Medium can benefit a corporate or commercial site that doesn’t really have the necessity or desire for a blog on their site.

In a way, the question of whether to publish on Medium (exclusively or syndicated) or to publish exclusively on a company blog is a question of context and the circumstances of the particular company.

If the company doesn’t have room on their site to accommodate a blog (because they aren’t a “content site” for example) then that will certainly make the choice to publish on Medium more obvious.

On the other hand, if the goal is to establish a site as a destination, sporadically publishing on Medium can be a way to attract attention to the site as part of an awareness-building campaign.

Or, perhaps a company may choose to not publish on Medium at all because it is a general type of site and there may be better rewards on focusing exclusively on promoting the site specifically within the given niche.

Whichever approach is taken, remember to build that strategy on the idea of writing to the needs and wants of readers.

Many signals of popularity, such as searches for a domain or links, are derived from impressing people — not search engines.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, December 2020

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

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Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

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Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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Survey says: Amazon, Google more trusted with your personal data than Apple is

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survey-says:-amazon,-google-more-trusted-with-your-personal-data-than-apple-is-–-phonearena
 

MacRumors reveals that more people feel better with their personal data in the hands of Amazon and Google than Apple’s. Companies that the public really doesn’t trust when it comes to their personal data include Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

The survey asked over 1,000 internet users in the U.S. how much they trusted certain companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon to handle their user data and browsing activity responsibly.

Amazon and Google are considered by survey respondents to be more trustworthy than Apple

Those surveyed were asked whether they trusted these firms with their personal data “a great deal,” “a good amount,” “not much,” or “not at all.” Respondents could also answer that they had no opinion about a particular company. 18% of those polled said that they trust Apple “a great deal” which topped the 14% received by Google and Amazon.

However, 39% said that they trust Amazon  by “a good amount” with Google picking up 34% of the votes in that same category. Only 26% of those answering said that they trust Apple by “a good amount.” The first two responses, “a great deal” and “a good amount,” are considered positive replies for a company. “Not much” and “not at all” are considered negative responses.

By adding up the scores in the positive categories,

Apple tallied a score of 44% (18% said it trusted Apple with its personal data “a great deal” while 26% said it trusted Apple “a good amount”). But that placed the tech giant third after Amazon’s 53% and Google’s 48%. After Apple, Microsoft finished fourth with 43%, YouTube (which is owned by Google) was fifth with 35%, and Facebook was sixth at 20%.

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Rounding out the remainder of the nine firms in the survey, Instagram placed seventh with a positive score of 19%, WhatsApp was eighth with a score of 15%, and TikTok was last at 12%.

Looking at the scoring for the two negative responses (“not much,” or “not at all”), Facebook had a combined negative score of 72% making it the least trusted company in the survey. TikTok was next at 63% with Instagram following at 60%. WhatsApp and YouTube were both in the middle of the pact at 53% followed next by Google and Microsoft at 47% and 42% respectively. Apple and Amazon each had the lowest combined negative scores at 40% each.

74% of those surveyed called targeted online ads invasive

The survey also found that a whopping 82% of respondents found targeted online ads annoying and 74% called them invasive. Just 27% found such ads helpful. This response doesn’t exactly track the 62% of iOS users who have used Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to opt-out of being tracked while browsing websites and using apps. The tracking allows third-party firms to send users targeted ads online which is something that they cannot do to users who have opted out.

The 38% of iOS users who decided not to opt out of being tracked might have done so because they find it convenient to receive targeted ads about a certain product that they looked up online. But is ATT actually doing anything?

Marketing strategy consultant Eric Seufert said last summer, “Anyone opting out of tracking right now is basically having the same level of data collected as they were before. Apple hasn’t actually deterred the behavior that they have called out as being so reprehensible, so they are kind of complicit in it happening.”

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The Financial Times says that iPhone users are being lumped together by certain behaviors instead of unique ID numbers in order to send targeted ads. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says that the company is working to rebuild its ad infrastructure “using more aggregate or anonymized data.”

Aggregated data is a collection of individual data that is used to create high-level data. Anonymized data is data that removes any information that can be used to identify the people in a group.

When consumers were asked how often do they think that their phones or other tech devices are listening in to them in ways that they didn’t agree to, 72% answered “very often” or “somewhat often.” 28% responded by saying “rarely” or “never.”

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Google’s John Mueller on Brand Mentions via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s John Mueller was asked if “brand mentions” helped with SEO and rankings. John Mueller explained, in detail, how brand mentions are not anything used at Google.

What’s A Brand Mention?

A brand mention is when one website mentions another website. There is an idea in the SEO community that when a website mentions another website’s domain name or URL that Google will see this and count it the same as a link.

Brand Mentions are also known as an implied link. Much was written about this ten years ago after a Google patent that mentions “implied links” surfaced.

There has never been a solid review of why the idea of “brand mentions” has nothing to do with this patent, but I’ll provide a shortened version later in this article.

John Mueller Discussing Brand Mentions

John Mueller Brand Mentions

John Mueller Brand Mentions

Do Brand Mentions Help With Rankings?

The person asking the question wanted to know about brand mentions for the purpose of ranking. The person asking the question has good reason to ask it because the idea of “brand mentions” has never been definitively reviewed.

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The person asked the question:

“Do brand mentions without a link help with SEO rankings?”

Google Does Not Use Brand Mentions

Google’s John Mueller answered that Google does not use the “brand mentions” for any link related purpose.

Mueller explained:

“From my point of view, I don’t think we use those at all for things like PageRank or understanding the link graph of a website.

And just a plain mention is sometimes kind of tricky to figure out anyway.”

That part about it being tricky is interesting.

He didn’t elaborate on why it’s tricky until later in the video where he says it’s hard to understand the subjective context of a website mentioning another website.

Brand Mentions Are Useful For Building Awareness

Mueller next says that brand mentions may be useful for helping to get the word out about a site, which is about building popularity.

Mueller continued:

“But it can be something that makes people aware of your brand, and from that point of view, could be something where indirectly you might have some kind of an effect from that in that they search for your brand and then …obviously, if they’re searching for your brand then hopefully they find you right away and then they can go to your website.

And if they like what they see there, then again, they can go off and recommend that to other people as well.”

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“Brand Mentions” Are Problematic

Later on at the 58 minute mark another person brings the topic back up and asks how Google could handle spam sites that are mentioning a brand in a negative way.

The person said that one can disavow links but one cannot disavow a “brand mention.”

Mueller agreed and said that’s one of things that makes brand mentions difficult to use for ranking purposes.

John Mueller explained:

“Kind of understanding the almost the subjective context of the mention is really hard.

Is it like a positive mention or a negative mention?

Is it a sarcastic positive mention or a sarcastic negative mention? How can you even tell?

And all of that, together with the fact that there are lots of spammy sites out there and sometimes they just spin content, sometimes they’re malicious with regards to the content that they create…

All of that, I think, makes it really hard to say we can just use that as the same as a link.

…It’s just, I think, too confusing to use as a clear signal.”

Where “Brand Mentions” Come From

The idea of “brand mentions” has bounced around for over ten years.

There were no research papers or patents to support it. “Brand mentions” is literally an idea that someone invented out of thin air.

However the “brand mention” idea took off in 2012 when a patent surfaced that seemed to confirm the idea of brand mentions.

There’s a whole long story to this so I’m just going to condense it.

There’s a patent from 2012 that was misinterpreted in several different ways because most people at the time, myself included, did not read the entire patent from beginning to end.

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The patent itself is about ranking web pages.

The structure of most Google patents consist of introductory paragraphs that discuss what the patent is about and those paragraphs are followed by pages of in-depth description of the details.

The introductory paragraphs that explain what it’s about states:

“Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs… for ranking search results.”

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Pretty much nobody read that beginning part of the patent.

Everyone focused on a single paragraph in the middle of the patent (page 9 out of 16 pages).

In that paragraph there is a mention of something called “implied links.”

The word “implied” is only mentioned four times in the entire patent and all four times are contained within that single paragraph.

So when this patent was discovered, the SEO industry focused on that single paragraph as proof that Google uses brand mentions.

In order to understand what an “implied link” is, you have to scroll all the way back up to the opening paragraphs where the Google patent authors describe something called a “reference query” that is not a link but is nevertheless used for ranking purposes just like a link.

What Is A Reference Query?

A reference query is a search query that contains a reference to a URL or a domain name.

The patent states:

“A reference query for a particular group of resources can be a previously submitted search query that has been categorized as referring to a resource in the particular group of resources.”

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Elsewhere the patent provides a more specific explanation:

“A query can be classified as referring to a particular resource if the query includes a term that is recognized by the system as referring to the particular resource.

…search queries including the term “example.com” can be classified as referring to that home page.”

The summary of the patent, which comes at the beginning of the document, states that it’s about establishing which links to a website are independent and also counting reference queries and with that information creating a “modification factor” which is used to rank web pages.

“…determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of reference queries; determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective group-specific modification factor, wherein the group-specific modification factor for each group is based on the count of independent links and the count of reference queries for the group;”

The entire patent largely rests on those two very important factors, a count of independent inbound links and the count of reference queries. The phrases reference query and reference queries are used 39 times in the patent.

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As noted above, the reference query is used for ranking purposes like a link, but it’s not a link.

The patent states:

“An implied link is a reference to a target resource…”

It’s clear that in this patent, when it mentions the implied link, it’s talking about reference queries, which as explained above simply means when people search using keywords and the domain name of a website.

Idea of Brand Mentions Is False

The whole idea of “brand mentions” became a part of SEO belief systems because of how that patent was misinterpreted.

But now you have the facts and know why “brand mentions” is not real thing.

Plus John Mueller confirmed it.

“Brand mentions” is something completely random that someone in the SEO community invented out of thin air.

Citations

Ranking Search Results Patent

Watch John Mueller discuss “brand mentions” at 44:10 Minute Mark and the brand Mentions second part begins at the 58:12 minute mark

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