While working on a competitive analysis for a law firm client, I came across an alarming trend – many of the competitor’s blogs had strikingly similar content that riffed on local news stories.
When exploring this a little bit further, it seemed that many of the firm’s competitors used syndicated content from the same industry marketing company to fuel their blogging efforts. In other words, these firms are receiving content from the marketing company to publish on their blogs.
The marketing company is smart enough not to duplicate the content for each firm in the same location. However, the formula is nearly identical for each post:
- Paraphrase a recent study or news article;
- Overtly link to keywords throughout your site;
- Cite the source of the information (that way, you’re not plagiarizing); and
- Make a sales pitch at the end citing how your firm handles these issues.
So, what’s the problem with this approach?
It’s not unique.
Part of the magic of blogging is that it can help position you as an expert in your field, which can help you gain the attention of customers and even the media.
But, to do that, you need to showcase your knowledge and expertise by offering advice, taking a stand or providing a thoughtful analysis on an issue.
Syndicating content from a third party does not help you do that. Instead, you become a content mill that churns out blasé posts day after day. How does this help you differentiate yourself in the marketplace?
You lose your personality.
Blogging can really help companies peel off the veneer and showcase the people and personality behind the brand. This is an important way to develop relationships with readers and prospects. After all, people like to do business with those they know, like and trust.
When you hand your content off to a third party, you lose the opportunity for you and your team to write in a way that captures the style of your team members. Although some expert writers can help you maintain your brand voice, most syndication services do not offer the customization to help you make your blog your own.
Much of the content I read on these syndicated sites was downright dull. It lacked any life, spark or imagination.
Yes, I realize I’m talking about law firm blogs and the subject matter isn’t all that fun. However, there are ways to make the content interesting and engaging. Including relevant images, weaving in video blogs or even writing in plain language would make these blogs far more attractive to readers.
With syndicated content, it’s more about creating link juice for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes than creating thoughtful content worth reading.
So why are companies doing this?
It’s easy. And, in some cases, it works.
Companies are realizing that blogging and content marketing is extremely effective – especially when it comes to SEO.
But, many companies don’t want to invest the time and energy it takes to do the work themselves. Handing off blog content to a third party is an easy way to check the blogging box and keep your company competitive.
Hiring help to create your blog content isn’t always bad. It can work well if you have a marketing partner who works with you to help you create content that helps differentiate yourself and stays true to your company’s vision and voice.
The problem is when companies hand over the keys and wipe their hands of the blogging effort. It’s rare that this is a recipe for success.
What do you think about syndication services? Have you used one? Would you ever consider it?
Image credit: Frank Peters