Why Syndicated Content is Bad for Your Business Blog

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.

It’s boring.

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

About Laura Click

Laura Click is founder and CEO of Blue Kite Marketing, a Nashville-based integrated marketing firm. In addition to being the lead blogger on the Blue Kite blog, Laura is a proud Mizzou alum, avid runner and dog lover. You can connect with Laura on Twitter at @lauraclick, on LinkedIn or Google Plus.

  • http://twitter.com/ltcassociates Stephen D. Forman

    Hi Laura,

    Along these same lines, I can’t tell you how many times our business has been approached by syndicated “newsletter” firms, who offer to create and send senior-oriented newsletters to our policyholders on our behalf.

    Sure, it would be a time-saver… but I’d rather send nothing than turn over the keys to a 3rd party to manage content in this way.

    Your points above are well-taken, thanks.

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Wow, really? That’s interesting. I don’t think outsourcing a newsletter or email marketing is altogether bad, but again, you need to work with a marketing PARTNER, not a 3rd-party content mill. Yuck.

    • Bob4587

      Sure, it would be a time-saver… but I’d rather send nothing than turn over the keys to a 3rd party to manage content in this way.You are definitely right, but I have a little other opinion

      plagiarism in seo

  • http://twitter.com/bdorman264 Bill Dorman

    We haven’t used syndicated resources, but we have ‘paid’ for articles and then put our personal touch on them.

    The challenge is, nobody wants to take the lead in writing for our blog. You would think it would be a no-brainer for me being Mr Social, but it’s hard for me to get enthusiastic about it. However, that might be changing as I do think I can put a human, understandable, and somewhat witty take on insurance. It just means I will have to limit my time being immensely popular on my blog……….:).

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Interesting – where are you getting the articles you’ve paid for? Curious to know what’s out there.

      I think your experience is VERY similar to what I’m seeing with my clients and other small businesses. It’s tough to find the resources to do it internally. That’s why most could use some guidance (and a kick in the pants ) to get it done.

      The difference between other businesses and yours is that they don’t have someone in house that ALREADY has a popular blog! So, you’re definitely ahead of the game if you can think about how to channel your efforts toward your business blog. I’m sure you can do it!

      • http://twitter.com/bdorman264 Bill Dorman

        We found somebody through E-Lance I believe and we pay them for X number of articles. They are not insurance people so the articles are somewhat generic and then we put our touch to them and have the authority to take ‘ownership’ of the article.

        We might be headed in the direction where I will be keeper of the LUI blog; I guess I better start paying attention to all the advice out here, huh? At least I will finally have a self-hosted site…….:).

  • http://bigleapcreative.com/ Lisa Gerber

    I read this and my jaw dropped open, then I realized this is a touch position for everyone involved – not only the firm, but the digital agency they work with. The alternative is to pay an agency to write the content, when the really, truly best solution is for them to write it themselves, but then you you have to go through a steep learning curve in order to do it well, and you deal with issues like Bill does below – nobody wants to champion it.

    Either way, I have to agree – purchasing syndicated content is not the answer.

    • http://flybluekite.com Laura Click

      From what I can tell, it appears there are a couple of large, well-established companies in the legal world that have gone into marketing. And, they are doing it a way that lets attorneys “set it and forget it”. It’s a darn shame.

      Being married to a lawyer, I know that attorneys are not wired for marketing. They know they need it, but they don’t want to do it. Sadly, many of these companies know how to capitalize on that and can charge a lot of money to boot.

      You’re right – it is a challenge. Many businesses struggle to find the time to blog. Yet, outsourcing isn’t right either. That’s why partnering with a consultant or firm that can help guide your efforts is the best bet.

      Thanks for stopping by, Lisa! Hope your new endeavor is going well! :)

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