As a blogger, I’m continually facing the question of whether I should syndicate my content and how actively I should attempt to get it syndicated. There are a lot of potential aggregators out there. They have a lot of different practices. My goals are to increase visibility and ultimately to build an active readership who will comment and participate in a discussion. It’s really part of trying to Amplify Your Blogging.
Ardath Albee’s recent post Using Content for Inbound Marketing: Mine or Yours? talks to various pros and cons for syndication. It raises a lot of very interesting questions about whether bloggers should syndicate. Briefly, she lists the following:
- Exposure and Awareness
- Reputation by Association
- Increased Inbound Traffic
- Lost Traffic
- No Updates
- Dispersed Conversations
- Lost Links
- Ranking in search engines
I think that Ardath was being fairly diplomatic about the topic. My personal belief is that choices made by aggregators have a big impact on whether it makes sense for you to syndicate your content. Let’s examine that a bit.
Types of Aggregators and Syndication Choices
Essentially there are three kinds of aggregators.
- Editor-Driven: A human editor selects articles / posts for publication.
- Crowd-Driven: The selection of articles / posts is handled by a crowd of people as is done in social news sites such as Sphinn, Digg, Reddit, etc.
- Computer-Driven: The process is handled by an algorithm as happens in Google News.
Aggregators make the following syndication choices:
- Full vs. Snippets – Does the aggregator make a full copy of the source article or only show a snippet?
- Full Link – Does the aggregator include a link (not a nofollow link) back to the original source?
- Title Used as Anchor Text – Does the aggregator use the original title as the anchor text in the link? Some aggregators provide a link but use the anchor text of “Read Full Article” or “Original Post” – this hurts the original source from an SEO perspective.
- Link to Publication/Blog – Does the aggregator also include a link to the blog or publication?
- Commenting on Original Source – Does the aggregator create a competing place for comments or do they push to have comments back on the original source?
Aggregators certainly make different choices about these things. Some aggregators, especially those that are editor-driven make choices that are less favorable to bloggers. For example, Social Media Today (SMT) makes full copies of human selected articles. These include a link to the original post, often with the anchor text as something like “original post”. Because of this, some bloggers find that their original posts get beat out in Google search results by the equivalent post on SMT. SMT also has commenting on their site. Because editor-driven aggregators generally require greater effort they often attempt to keep traffic on their site in order to increase page views and grow subscribers.
Paper.li and Browse My Stuff are both computer and crowd-driven aggregators and have made choices that are more favorable to bloggers. They only show snippets. They provide full links back to the site.
If you go back and look at the cons associated with syndication on Ardath’s post, they are not associated with aggregators like Paper.li and BrowseMyStuff.