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Syndicated Content and How To Fix it For Search

[Author's Addendum, 2024]

This post was originally written over four years ago. Things have changed, including Google's algorithms and the use of Artificial Intelligence to craft articles, which has a downside.

The core of this article is sound; it was never enough to just change some words around in someone else's article and call it yours. At the very least, you should give a different viewpoint, alternatives to the original subject matter, update data or provide additional/different proof points to validate the article.

The one new point is the use of AI to help write your article. All AI can do is regurgitate what's already out there. It won't come up with new concepts or arguments. It may include things you didn't think of that may improve the quality of your article for captive readers, but it won't help you in search. Both Google (because they authored an AI tool, they know if they "wrote" it) and readers (even if subconsciously) know if you used AI, and they don't value it like original articles. See the test results from NP Digital, where AI content clearly does not perform as well as content generated by humans:


[Original Article] How to Fix Syndicated Content for Search

Search Marketers know that having a blog is important to bring searchers to your site. But it’s tough to do. It takes time. What do you write about? How do you create content that people are searching for?

The answer for many small businesses is to sign on with a web marketing company that specializes in your vertical, and along with a website you may get syndicated blog posts on a regular basis. Which can be good for conversions, but doesn’t help you for search. Why?

You’re getting the same content that hundreds of other websites have, word-for-word. It’s not unique or first, so Google likely won't push it up very high in search results. They'll index it, but you'll be in a search toss-up with competitors with only the local search component (proximity, or the distance between you and the person searching) to separate you. It can be good information for viewers already on your website, but it likely won’t bring in fresh, new traffic.

The Solution - Change It!

Hopefully your blog source came up with a good content idea. Verify that they provide you with permissions to make content changes (not all do). Then:

  • Give it a different title and add your own voice and opinion. Make some significant wording changes. You don’t have to agree with their post; ideally you can just use the original post as inspiration, and present another perspective or even disagree. Changing to your opinion or take on a subject will prevent someone accusing you of "content spinning". If your post can be a response to the original idea, reference the original article with a link. That way you have a chance of responding to searches for their original article as well as your response.
  • Change the flow of the article by adding, removing and moving thoughts around to reflect how you think it would make better sense to YOUR clients. Try not to remove key terms. If you know your best-performing keywords and can weave them in, it will help increase traffic in that subject.
  • Assuming the post has something to do with a service or product you offer, add text links to those pages in your website from words or phrases in the article. That prevents “orphaned content”.
  • Localize the post to improve your performance in local search like we do by including your town in the post (for us, Frisco, TX) in the text. Cite an example of a local customer who used your product or your team to solve their problem. If you can’t mention names, be sure that you include the city, the type of business and other details that would help the search engines know where you are.
  • If you can change or add a photo to the post, do it. Take a shot of a local business, or the customer, and make sure that when you add it to your image library, you give it an alt tag and description.
  • Don't use AI to write or rewrite your article! If you want to use it to get ideas, fine. But it's not going to think up anything new, and it won't use your voice or viewpoint. Most of the time AI tends to add useless verbiage and all it can do is copy what's out there.

Voila, you have a unique blog post that will have a better chance of pulling in viewers, and it took less effort than writing something from scratch. Give us a shout with questions!

Bill tracks news and changes in SEO as it affects site design and content development. Follow this blog if you're a business or agency owner that needs basic info to help with your own projects!