Most entrepreneurs would love to have a secret sauce for growing their audience. For many, content marketing is a great, but slow, way to attract new customers.
It takes a lot of time to write a high-quality blog post. If you simply post it to your blog, you may be missing out on some tremendous opportunities for growth by re-publishing that same content on other networks like LinkedIn and Medium.
The question is, does this copy/paste trick onto other sites hurt your SEO rankings? Though it only takes a couple extra minutes per post, will this strategy lead to growth or penalties?
I recently received an email from someone asking those very questions:
“Hi, Ryan. I’ve finally gotten around to digging into your book. I’m currently on the chapter about personal branding. In it, you mentioned that you will post the exact same article you posted on your blog to LinkedIn, but with a tweak to the title and with a couple week window. Am I reading and understanding that right?…Does that cause SEO problems?”
I’ve been using this tactic for the past year on a variety of articles, and in this post I will share with you the numbers that I’ve encountered using this strategy, and whether or not I still suggest doing this (Hint: It is working nicely, but with one caveat).
Good News: It’s Probably Not Duplicate Content
For some time now Google has been omitting similar search results to those listed earlier on the page, to prevent sites that simply scrape and re-publish content from stealing the thunder from those who deserve it.
With updates to Google’s algorithm, they’ve penalized sites for excessive “duplicate content”, and nearly blown some sites from ever appearing in search engine results again.
So how is this different? Well, Matt Cutts (head of the webspam team at Google), has stated:
“I wouldn’t stress about it unless the content that you have duplicated is spammy or keyword stuffing.” -Matt Cutts
While cross-posting your content is likely not to get you penalized, you do run the risk of having the site you cross-post on receiving a higher search engine ranking than you. For example, Neil Patel from QuickSprout shares that reposting some of his content on Entrepreneur.com had reduced the traffic to his site because they had more authority in Google’s ranking algorithms.
In my own experience, reposting specifically on LinkedIn and Medium has not affected my search engine rankings. For example, a Google search for the terms “Startup PR Strategy” will produce a top result for an article I wrote entitled “PR Strategy for Startups”, while a copy/pasted version onto LinkedIn entitled “Your Startup Needs a PR Strategy” is listed 6 results later (but still on the first page).
Remember, the actual article is identical in both results. The only difference is the title and the site it was published on, one on ryanbattles.com, and one on linkedin.com.
Good News: Your Site Will Probably Rank Highest
In the previous example, there is the possibility that my own site ranked higher because the title “PR Strategy for Startups” was a closer match to the keyword phrase that I searched for, which was “Startup PR Strategy”.
How do the rankings play out when all things are created equal in the searching?
To answer this question I found an obscure sentence in the middle of that post and searched for it with quotations around it. Certainly, only my article would be an exact match, but who would rank first?
The results were that the exact same article ranked highest on my site, while still showing results from Medium coming next, followed by LinkedIn.
If Google was counting this as duplicate content, it would have omitted one or two of these results. So for now, it is seeming like a safe strategy.
At this point you may be wondering, “What are the benefits of even doing this?”
Good News: You Could Get a Lot More Eyes on Your Content
The benefit to re-posting your content on other sites is simple: more people are likely to see it.
One of the less successful posts that I’ve posted on my blog was an article on Scheduling Your Day with Natural Energy Patterns. Granted, at the time I published it my list was much smaller than it is now, and perhaps I didn’t do all I could to promote it. However, as of the time of this writing, the post itself has garnished only 224 views.
What is interesting, however, is that I posted the exact same article (with a slightly different headline) on LinkedIn, and it is currently up to 2,087 views. That’s almost 10x the exposure just by reposting the same article on another platform.
Now, this is only one example, and most times it is not the case to see such a difference between view counts. However, it is almost as if reposting content doubles your opportunity to spread your content to reach new eyes.
Good News: You Can Rank for More Long-Tail Keyword Combos
An effective exercise whenever you are writing a blog post is to brainstorm at least a dozen potential headlines for that content before choosing one. The first article title that comes to mind is rarely going to be the most engaging or interesting.
Reposting your content on various platforms gives you the ability to utilize some of these other keyword combinations to rank for different searches terms.
For example, one of the posts on my blog is titled “Finding Your Customer’s Pain Points”. When you search for “Customer Pain Points”, that article ranks fairly well. However, what about a slightly different version, “Nailing Your Audience’s Pain Points”? That’s the headline that I went with for reposting on Medium and LinkedIn, and those articles currently rank at the top of Google for that particular long-tail combo.
In fact, I then took the post on Medium and shared it on Reddit, which is the third Google result, and it was also mentioned by someone on Bootstrappers.io. The net result is the top four results on Google all pointing to the same piece of content in one way or another.
By posting in multiple locations, with slightly different headlines, you have more opportunity to draw readers into the same piece of content.
Bad News: Conversion From Other Platforms is Hard
Up until this point, I’ve focused on the benefits of posting on other sites. Now for the “Debbie Downer” moment.
You may rank well, and get a lot more eyes on your content, but then what? Does it guide people towards signing up for your newsletter? Downloading your free PDF? Signing up for a trial?
In my experience, not so much.
Over the past year, I’ve only had 149 sessions on my own site, which were referrals from LinkedIn. Of those, most are likely from articles that I share within my timeline. Also, these are simply visits, likely only a small few even signed up for the newsletter or a free download.
My key takeaway is this: I need to figure out how to better convert readers of articles on LinkedIn and Medium.
Up to this point I’ve largely just told them that “more articles like this can be found on ryanbattles.com”, or provided a link to signup to receive similar articles by email. Perhaps I should put more time into crafting a call to action at the end of the post that encourages a signup to receive a targeted piece of value-added content, like a cheatsheet or list of resources.
Another possibility is to be more intentional with links within the post back to articles on my own site.
Finally, there’s always the old, “Related Posts” listing that links people back to the site to read similar articles.
I’ll be implementing all three of the above in one capacity or another in the coming months, just to see which ones lead to more engagement and growth.
So, if you’re still reading, then perhaps you’re ready to give this a shot. Here are a few suggested tactics for reposting content on sites like LinkedIn and Medium:
1. Put your blog first
Ginny Soskey, from Hubspot, writes:
“See how publishing to LinkedIn could help you meet your marketing goals … but don’t put all of your content eggs in one basket. Building up your own blog will give you more ownership over your success.” - Ginny Soskey, Hubspot
When you put your site first before publishing on other platforms, you will not lose everything if LinkedIn decides to close up their blogging platform, or if Medium ends up shutting down the site.
With your own site, you have more control over the design, the calls to action, and the unique personality that can shine through.
2. Delay about a week before re-posting to other sites.
It is a good idea to post the content first to your blog, and then wait anywhere from 1 to 7 days before publishing the same content on another site. This will give your site some time to be indexed by Google, and will likely be seen as the more authoritative source for that content.
Ryan Hoover, founder of ProductHunt, is an avid blogger. His flow is as follows:
I typically post my essay on my personal domain (ryanhoover.me) and promote the piece on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Quibb. The following day, I cross-post the essay on Medium, Svbtle, sometimes Quora, and most recently, LinkedIn’s Influencer program. -Ryan Hoover, Founder of ProductHunt
Another strategy is to go into the vaults of your content and pull up older, yet evergreen, content and publish them on LinkedIn or Medium. If you chose a different post to promote on LinkedIn and Medium, and also have a new post on your own blog, you will then have three unique shareable pieces of content to promote that week and grow your audience with.
3. For forums sensitive to spam, submit a medium post for better results.
Reddit is a great place to attract new eyes onto your content. However, most subreddits are quick to call you a “spammer” if you are linking to your own site’s content.
I was actually banned from a particular subreddit for posting How Can I Attract More Freelance Clients? to the /freelance subreddit. This post was an article on Harpoon’s website, and while the article was over 1,000 words long outlining some valuable information for freelancers, without even a mention of Harpoon, I was still banned with the following reason:
This post isn’t in keeping with the rules of the subreddit. It is clear that the purpose of this post is to attract freelancers to your freelancing app, Harpoon.
Really? I went back and forth with the moderator, explaining how the content was nothing but informative and helpful to freelancers, but yes, the Harpoon logo was in the header and sidebar. Because of this, it was deemed spammy.
Now here’s the interesting part…
I’ve posted many articles that were republished on Medium, and never once got called a “spammer” from the Reddit community on those articles. In fact, on average I receive more “upvotes” for content published on Medium than my own site.
Why is this?
I think because when you post content on a site like LinkedIn or Medium, there is just a tiny step away from your own personal brand that puts the extra focus on the content instead of the author.
My suggestion? Try both. I think certain communities will respond better to a post on Medium, while others will probably respond better to being on your own site. Every community is different, and what works for one might be a bad idea for another.
A high-quality blog post takes time to write. With 2 million blog posts being written every day, it can be really hard to stand out and grow your audience. By taking the content that you are publishing, and reposting it on sites like LinkedIn and Medium, you can substantially grow the number of eyes that land on your content.
However, it isn’t enough just to copy/paste content onto these sites, you must also think of creative ways to lead those visitors back to your own site to grow your email list.
Done correctly, reposting content can be a dramatic multiplier for audience growth, with little extra work.