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Is It A Google Ranking Factor?

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Is It A Google Ranking Factor?


Does syndicated content affect organic search rankings?

In some cases, syndicated content is viewed as spam.

In others, it can outrank the original content.

And yet syndication is a widely accepted practice in journalism and content marketing alike.

But is it a ranking factor in search ranking algorithms?

In this chapter, we’ll determine if syndicated content is a Google ranking factor.

The Claim: Syndicated Content is A Ranking Factor

Content syndication happens in a number of ways.

Individual content authors may choose to syndicate their content in an attempt to reach larger audiences.

For example, a CEO may publish a blog on their company website.

They may then syndicate the same blog post to LinkedIn, Medium, or elsewhere.

This enables them to tap into the audiences of each network and possibly link back to the main company website.

Publications and blogs can also choose to syndicate content.

This happens when a publisher (content creator) agrees to share their content with a partner (the syndicator) – or even multiple partners, with the goal of further expanding the reach of that piece of content and the brand behind its creation.

The syndicated content piece, when it appears on the third-party site, could end up being:

  • Identical (all content is the same except for the URL where it lives).
  • Condensed (e.g., perhaps only the first paragraph or some portion of the article appears).
  • Edited significantly (e.g., it has a different headline, or has had portions edited, removed, or rearranged).

When syndication happens without the creator’s consent, this piracy can result in duplicate content rather than syndicated content.

Let’s call this what it really is: Content theft.

Some websites use software to scrape content from other websites.

These websites may only scrape content about a particular topic to syndicate.

Others may scrape anything that is popular in an attempt to attract search traffic.

The Evidence Against Syndicated Content As A Ranking Factor

Google Search Central has specific quality guidelines for webmasters. In the Advanced SEO section, they specify two scenarios related to syndicated content that constitute webspam:

  • Publishing auto-generated content created by scraping RSS feeds or search results.
  • Publishing scraped content using automated techniques that add no additional value to or modify the original content.

In either scenario, your content is unlikely to rank in search results.

The authors of the original content may also be able to file for copyright infringement.

In 2012, Google Search Central released a video on webspam content violations.

This video reiterates the use of automation and scraping to create syndicated content as spam.

In 2018, John Mueller, Google Search Advocate, talked about how syndicated content had the potential to outrank original content.

This happens when the syndicate site has additional valuable content surrounding the pirated content.

In 2021, in an article published on Google Search Central for developers, Google discussed how to handle duplicate content.

In regards to syndicated content, they suggest the following:

“If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer.

However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.”

Syndicated Content As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

If you are using content syndication to reach new audiences on popular networks with high-quality content, you can boost your visibility in search by ranking on other networks.

But simply syndicating content will not help the rankings of the original content in search results.

Therefore, we’ve classified it as unlikely to be a ranking factor.


Featured Image: Robin Biong/Search Engine Journal





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Biggest Challenges Facing SEO In 2023

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When you’re preparing your strategy for next year, it’s vital to plan for potential upsets and challenges ahead.

This year, SEO practitioners overcame challenges posed by a lack of resources, issues with strategy, and the ability to scale processes.

Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, our State of SEO report finds practitioners anticipate machine learning and AI, Google updates, and the deprecation of third-party cookies to lead the way as the greatest shifts in SEO.

In this article, we’ll summarize key data points from our report, highlight three major challenges in particular, and look at relevant SEO trends that can aid in your strategy development.

Lastly, we’ll discuss the implications advancements in machine learning and AI has on search marketing. Will this new search technology pose a challenge for you and your business? Continue reading to learn what our experts say.

All of the insights here are driven by our first-party survey data in the annual State Of SEO Report.

Summary Of Report Findings

When asked what were the biggest SEO challenges over the last 12 months, respondents stated:

  1. Lack of resources (14.9%).
  2. Strategy issues (12.3%).
  3. Scaling processes (11.9%).
  4. Pandemic-related issues (11.2%).
  5. Alignment with other departments (10.7%).

Budget cuts fell from the number one challenge SEO professionals faced in 2021 to number six this year.

However, the fact that lack of resources and scaling processes were top challenges in 2022 suggests that 2021’s budget cuts had a lasting impact.

Looking ahead to potential threats in 2023, we asked respondents to select up to three “biggest shifts” and industry changes in SEO. Here are their top responses:

  • Machine learning and AI (18.7%).
  • Google updates (18.0%).
  • Third-party cookie deprecation (13.9%).
  • Google zero-click pages (12.9%).
  • Competition for talent (11.5%).

Factors SEO professionals are watching as emergent factors are:

  • Machine learning and AI (11.3%).
  • Core Web Vitals (10.8%).
  • EAT & trusted sources (10.2%).
  • Mobile SEO (9.8%).
  • SERP features (8.3%).

SEO Pros Often Work With Limited Resources

Lack of resources came in as the top challenge faced by SEOs in 2022.

There’s little doubt that the industry is feeling the effects of budget cuts incurred in 2021, though another reason for the limited resources is that many SEOs aren’t working with large teams.

Over 40% of respondents report working with a team of 10 or fewer members, while roughly 5% said they work by themselves.

Adding new team members may prove difficult in the next year or two.

The State Of SEO Report goes into deeper detail about the challenges facing SEO professionals and what they’re worried about next year.

Recent And Continuing Growth May Prove Challenging

Several of the SEO shifts predicted for 2023 and beyond are potential impediments to growth.

Recent and continuing growth may prove challenging without the ability to scale as a team, and competition for talent is expected to be a major cause for concern over the next two years.

Deprecation of third-party cookies makes it difficult for SEO pros and marketers to sustain recent growth, as they’ll be expected to deliver the same or better results with fewer data.

Strategy Is A Concern For Many SEO Pros

SEOs listed strategy issues as one of their greatest challenges over the last 12 months.

Strategy issues may indicate that SEO professionals are struggling to prove their ROI (return on investment).

While over half of SEO practitioners (58.0%) we surveyed reported an increase in the ROI for their work, many struggled to prove ROI, and 29% of SEO professionals reported feeling ambivalent about their ROI.

In our chapter on Winning Strategies And Measuring SEO Success, we discuss how ROI problems are often the result of a disconnect between a brand’s target goals and the data being tracked.

SEO Pros Expect Machine Learning And AI To Have A Big Impact

Topping the list of biggest shifts over the next two years, as anticipated by SEO pros, is machine learning and AI.

Additionally, machine learning and AI were the top responses when SEO pros were asked to rank what they think will be the most important emergent factors in 2023.

To understand better why machine learning and AI are at the top of everyone’s minds, we turned to our in-house experts to get more context.

Shelley Walsh, the SEO content strategist at SEJ, doesn’t see AI and machine learning being able to replace human decision-making any time soon. Further, she doesn’t advise relying too heavily on AI-powered tools for creating content:

“As a disruptor, I can’t yet see AI being able to replace critical decisions and choices where there are several routes to take, and you have to make a choice based on expertise. The tool is only as good as the person driving it. At the moment, there is a flood of tools powered by GPT-3.

These are great for low-end volume content, such as product descriptions, but they widen the divide and elevate well-researched thought leadership quality content. As niches online become saturated by AI-spun content, the quality will be the only way to stand out. Ultimately, overuse will only have a detrimental effect.”

To see all of the first-party survey data and read more insights, download the State Of SEO Report.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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