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We deliver syndicated content to our clients' sites. In our articles, we often link to blogs. We recently received a complaint from a blog that our link to them hurt their Google ranking, likely because of the way we publish our content:

  1. content is duplicated across multiple client sites (it's syndicated, after all)
  2. ~300 instances of the article go live at the same time (published as soon as articles are ready)
  3. articles are typically less than 1,000 characters (to make for shorter, more "snackable" content)
  4. articles contain numerous links to other sources (they are usually fashion articles referencing multiple examples of one trend or another)
  5. we do not publish a canonical version of the articles (as a B2B vendor, we do not have a consumer-facing outlet for our content)

We do not plan to change the first four conditions, as they serve our business needs. However, we are considering creating an article feed on our corporate domain in order to provide a canonical source for each article. What impact would this have on the way Google sees our content?

Our client sites contain authoritative and unique content. However, syndicated may comprise a little over half of client site content. How would this move to create a canonical feed on our domain impact our client sites?

Note!
Each instance of an article on a site is canonical in terms of sharing on Facebook. So, if I share an article from xyz.com, the link would go to xyz.com/articles/title-123. The same article shared from abc.com would go to abc.com/articles/title-123. Whatever we do must not interfere with that schema.

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If 300 or so sites are all publishing the same content it probably is hurting their Google ranking. If it isn't yet, it will at some point. Having the same content available on multiple URLs, especially multiple websites, is exactly what Google doesn't want. They want a canonical source for content so they can ranking it properly and not have redundant data in their search results.

Creating a canonical source for all of this content on your website is a great idea and is a win-win for everybody. Your site becomes the authoritative source of widely republished content. Your clients no longer have duplicate content on their website. Google only has one URL for each article.

  • I just added a note, as a developer pointed out an important detail for our client sites. Please take a look… – Taj Moore Sep 23 '14 at 21:17
  • Changing the link on each article posted linking to a source is not a way to canonicalise content. You must define a rel=canonical tag in the syndicated content pages <head> section referencing a single canonical page. – Max Sep 23 '14 at 23:11

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