Against my advice, we've started buying blog content from a syndicator. The content is not unique, and searching for quoted phrases shows this content in use on a few dozen other blogs. My initial hope was that I'd be able to edit this material enough to make it unique before posting it, but there's too much of it and I just don't have the time. Realistically, the choice is between running the posts as they are, with very few edits, or not using the material at all. So, two questions:
Will using this content help us? It's unquestionably high-quality material that's informative, useful, and relevant to our line of business and prospective clients. We already have very good SEO, so it's hard for me to judge how helpful the syndicated posts are in bringing people to the site through a wider range of search queries. Obviously I wouldn't want to see our site show up in a list of results showing identical content (not to mention the dreaded "we have omitted some entries very similar..."), but that's hard to gauge too.
Will using this content hurt us? The last thing I want is for Google's algorithm to perceive us as a content farm or a low-quality site. We run original posts as well as the syndicated ones, and I do still try to do some editing on the syndicated posts when I have time. I've put a lot of work into ethical, white-hat SEO over the past couple of years, and as a result we're consistently among the most highly-ranked sites in our local area for our (very competitive) line of business. I'd do anything to avoid incurring a Panda penalty that undoes all that hard work.