Does cited content affect organic search rankings?
In some cases, the licensed content is seen as spam.
In other cases, it can outperform the original content.
However, 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 will determine whether licensed content is a ranking factor in Google.
Claim: Shared content is a ranking factor
Content is published in a variety of ways.
Individual content authors may choose to publish their own content in an effort to reach larger audiences.
For example, the CEO might post a blog on the company’s website.
They can then publish the same blog post to LinkedIn, Medium, or elsewhere.
This allows them to tap into each network’s audience and possibly link back to the main company site.
Posts and blogs can also choose to share content.
This occurs when a publisher (content creator) agrees to share their content with a partner (the distributor) – or even multiple partners, with the goal of further expanding the reach of that piece of content and the brand behind its creation.
The portion of the licensed content, when it appears on the third party site, may end up being:
- match (All content is the same except for the URL where it is displayed).
- condensed (For example, maybe only the first paragraph or part of the article appears).
- Heavily edited (eg, it has a different title, or parts of it have been modified, removed, or rearranged).
When sharing occurs without the consent of the creator, this hacking can lead to duplicate content instead of the shared content.
Let’s call this what it really is: content theft.
Some websites use software to scrape content from other websites.
These websites may scrape content relating to a particular topic only for it to be shared.
Others may scrape anything popular in an attempt to drive search traffic.
The evidence against shared content as a ranking factor
Google Search Central has specific quality guidelines for webmasters. In the advanced SEO section, they can Locate Two scenarios related to promoted content that constitutes web spam:
- to publish Auto-generated content generated by RSS scraping Feeds or search results.
- to publish Content stolen using automated techniques that do not add any additional value or modify the original content.
In either scenario, your content is less likely to rank in search results.
The authors of the original content may also be able to sue for copyright infringement.
in a 2012Google Search Central released a video on web spam violations.
This video duplicates the use of automation and copying to generate content quoted as spam.
in a 2018John Mueller, a Google search attorney, spoke about the potential for syndicated content to rank higher than original content.
This happens when the syndicate site contains additional valuable content surrounding the pirated content.
in a 2021In an article posted on Google Search Central for developers, Google discussed how it handles duplicate content.
In terms of quoted content, they suggest the following:
If you aggregate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version that we think is most relevant to users on each given search, which may or may not be the version you prefer.
However, it pays to make sure that every site your content is promoted on includes a link back to your original article. You can also require those who use promoted material to use the noindex tag to prevent search engines from indexing their copy of the content.
Posted content as a ranking factor: Our judgment
If you use content sharing 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 sharing content will not help your original content rank in search results.
Therefore, we have rated it as not likely to be a ranking factor.
Featured image: Robin Biong / Search Engine Journal