In the past, I enjoyed republishing content to sites like Business 2 Community and Yahoo Small Advisor. I also experimented with reposting on platforms like Linkedin. Typically (as expected) my content would rank quickly upon publishing on my own site. Then, the much higher DA sites would republish shortly thereafter. As you might expect, Google would start ranking those domains above mine. But, in a few weeks, Google would suppress those big domains and my post would remain the victor for years and years to come (without the use of cross-domain canonical tags). Why? Because it’s the canonical article. It makes sense. Google can figure that out. I wrote about this experience in 2013.
I was fine with this situation. I enjoyed the traffic and visibility I would get from these other sites. It’s simply smart marketing. But lately I’ve been noticing an inconsistent change.
Unfortunately, I’m finding Google isn’t performing as expected in most cases these days. For me, it’s been less than half.
Working As Expected
A search for my March 2013 post title (and the topic of my above link) turns up this SERP. This is what I was expecting (and yes, it’s an incognito search):
Working As Expected – Kinda
Here’s an example where the post I wrote originated on Linkedin. In this case, Linkedin.com is the canonical domain. After a few months I copied this post to my site. Now it has certainly indexed from my site, but surprisingly, Google doesn’t think it’s worth showing at all. That’s right – no rankings for my own title whatsoever. Granted there’s no canonical tag from Linkedin, and the attribution link is nofollow. However, my name is on both posts, but Google just isn’t making the connection that I’m the author, and Greenlane is my home domain. I suspect I’m just getting filtered out as duplicate content.
Not Working As Expected
Now this is where it really stinks. In this case, I wrote a post that did fairly well for me traffic-wise. It originated on Greenlane, got a reference in a popular MOZ post, and has earned 40 links (though Majestic tells me most the links aren’t great quality). Yet, Greenlane doesn’t rank for its own title at all. But Business 2 Community does. I also experimented with reposting this on Linkedin many months after its original indexation, and now that domain is ranking second.
I wasn’t expecting this.
More important to rankings, natural search traffic to this blog post dropped 90% since publishing on Linkedin 2 months ago.
A Slight Change In Direction?
Maybe I gave Google too much credit in my original thoughts. In 2010, Google was hot with fresher results through the Caffeine indexing system. Eventually the tuning made those fresher results more relevant – thus, canonical URLs started to get their due. Today, maybe this isn’t the case. We have a few clients who follow the same republishing approach we do, and I’m seeing worse-than-expected results as well.
Maybe this is the byproduct of some other algorithm changes? Maybe it’s a conscious change back to higher PageRank? Maybe it’s a temporary trend, but I’ve changed my thinking on this now.
Do I still want to republish on these other sites? Not if I want to err on the side of caution with my SEO; so perhaps I’ll rewrite/respin/reapproach this content for republishing. I don’t mean spinning in terms of term uniqueness, but in terms of creating a truly new article. Just as some presenters do the same presentation with a different approach or perspective, or how some friends tell a funny story with a different state of mind each time, I think weighing the gains and losses against the time of a rewrite makes sense.
Bad dog, Google. I expected more from you.
By the way, the question of “should I republish my content on other sites” is apparently a pretty common question. Here’s some further reading I found while writing this article: