What’s the Difference Between Content Syndication and Guest Posting?
April 20, 2023
As a B2B content marketer, you constantly face decisions about where to invest your precious dollars and hours. When it comes to increasing reach and generating leads from your content, there are two usual suspects to consider: content syndication and guest posting.
Content syndication takes your proven, top-performing content and places it strategically in front of a targeted audience across third-party platforms and channels. Guest posting, on the other hand, is when you partner with a third-party publisher to create new content specifically for their site. In doing so, these third-party publishers include a link back to your website, which encourages visitors to click through and explore your page.
Both tactics drive brand awareness and improve reach. But there are a lot of key differences between the two. So, let’s dive a bit deeper to highlight how content syndication works, how guest posting works, and how to decide on which approach is best for you.
Content syndication explained
Content syndication is a tried-and-true lead generation tactic for B2B marketers, and there’s data to back that up. According to Activate Marketing Services, content syndication ranked as the fastest-growing strategy to increase audience reach and expand brand awareness. It’s a proven and proactive approach to get your top-performing content in front of the people who matter most: in-market buyers with purchase intent.
With content syndication, you can look at your existing content to identify articles, eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, and other top-performing assets to determine which ones will generate the most engagement among targeted leads. Then, either through your own in-house efforts (a.k.a. free content syndication) or by working with a content syndication partner (a.k.a. paid content syndication), you can strategically place and promote these pieces across third-party sites and channels, all in the hopes of attracting high-quality, in-market prospects.
Free v. paid content syndication
Now, since there are two possible ways to syndicate content, let’s take a look at these individual methods to better understand the key differences, overall benefits, and potential pitfalls of each approach.
DIY content syndication: the free approach
If you’re just getting started with content syndication or working with a limited budget, you may want to begin your journey in-house, using your own resources to share top-performing content on company-owned channels and other social platforms. Here are a few examples of how you can do it using the free approach:
- Republish articles on Medium
- Post videos on YouTube
- Pin infographics on Pinterest
- Answer questions on Quora
But let’s say you want to expand brand awareness to a more substantial audience, republishing your existing content to well-known, top-authority sites with mass readerships. Well then, that takes a little bit more effort on your end. First, you’ll need to identify the most ideal publications to support this goal, pitch your content to the right sites, and build strong relationships with top-authority publishers. For example, Business Insider offers opportunities for content syndication, but you have to connect with their contributing writer network via email to pitch your idea to get the ball rolling. It’s more of a lift than simply republishing content to other free platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook, but in return, you’ll be able to connect more with relevant audiences and strengthen ties with prominent publishers.
All in all, this DIY approach allows you to experiment with content syndication on a smaller scale and learn what kinds of content perform best among target audiences. Also, it’s a great first step in positioning your brand as a thought leader, boosting organic traffic to your website, and enhancing website authority. Better yet, you can even leverage AI tools like ChatGPT to create content for you, which helps teams that are light on resources.
And one more thing before we move onto paid syndication—even though the free approach is an easy go-to solution for expanding brand awareness to large audiences, you still need to be mindful of best practices, especially if you want to perform well in search engine results. To avoid a search engine penalty for duplicate content, make sure to use canonical tags to indicate that the “master copy” of your syndicated content is available on your website.
Partnering with a content syndication vendor: the paid approach
If you want to ramp up your content syndication program quickly and start driving measurable results in the fastest way possible, then consider working with a trusted content syndication vendor. Paying for professionals to do the legwork for you is simpler, more efficient, and, according to our research, the preferred method of most successful marketing teams.
Typically, there are two ways paid content syndication vendors operate:
- Ones that offer a cost-per-click (CPC) solution (like Outbrain or Taboola)
- Ones that offer a cost-per-lead (CPL) solution (like PureSyndication)
CPC vendors recommend your content to the most receptive audiences across top publisher sites, using algorithmic targeting to drive clicks, traffic, and conversion. CPL vendors, on the other hand, leverage criteria from your ICP, as well as campaign data, like your targeted number of leads and allocated budget, to determine an overall price tag for your syndication efforts.
Strong content syndication partners will also integrate robust data sets to better target in-market leads, including technographic, demographic, and firmographic data, as well as multi-source intent data. All these factors combine to signal whether a prospect is interested in purchasing a solution to solve their existing business challenge. By engaging these potential customers with relevant content at the right time, you can start building trust, drive engagement, and help accelerate conversion.
Considering all these factors, the success of your paid syndication efforts relies solely on the kind of vendor you go with, since choosing the right syndication partner is the quickest way to see quantifiable results.
Guest posting explained
Guest posting, or guest blogging, has a long history in content marketing. While it seems to mirror the idea of content syndication, it’s an entirely different animal all together. However, it still provides tremendous brand visibility and expands audience reach, making it a highly relevant tool for your content marketing bag of tricks.
The guest posting process
Unlike content syndication, guest posting involves the creation of new content for another publisher’s website. So, instead of sharing one of your existing blogs to an outside channel, you write a whole new piece and publish it specifically to your site of choice. This, then, highlights the importance of choosing the right publishing partner to work with.
To guest post successfully, here are a few tips to follow:
Identify the right partner
Content leader Erin Balsa calls this part of the process “identifying friendlies”—finding companies that share a similar audience as your own, but pose no competitive threat. Look for company blogs or industry-specific outlets that cover topics relevant to your own area of expertise. It’s a good opportunity to drive real value with like-minded audiences.
Build a relationship
Once you find the right publication for your guest post, get to know your publishing partner. Initiate a friendly business relationship to build trust and begin pitching ideas.
Set clear expectations
Have a clear understanding of how your content will be used and confirm whether you can link the post back to your own site. Also, find out what kind of promotional plan is in place and see if you can be involved in any way.
Get to know their audience
If your publishing partner is willing to share, look over their buyer personas and get to know their specific business needs and challenges. This way, you can see if your content properly addresses these points.
Create your guest post (collaboratively)
Expect to work with your publishing partner in tandem, especially during the editing phase. If they have guest posting guidelines, review those before getting started. Since it is their website, you’ll need to follow their style guide and preferences accordingly.
Promote and share
If it makes sense for your audience and it’s been approved by your publishing partner, promote and share your guest post on your own social channels.
Guest posting examples
Recently, DemandScience CEO, Peter Cannone, guest authored a piece for RTInsights titled, “How Agility Helps Overcome Sales and Marketing Challenges.” The online publication, which focuses on helping business leaders use data to accelerate enterprise growth, provided an ideal platform for Pete to share original research we conducted on sales and marketing alignment. As a result, we were able to position ourselves and our company as thought leaders in the B2B marketing space. Plus, the article included multiple backlinks to the DemandScience website—another win!
Guest posting benefits & potential pitfalls
When executed properly, guest posting can deliver positive outcomes like:
Increased brand awareness and expanded audience reach
If you choose a publishing partner with a similar audience as your ICP, you can reach new readers with helpful, relevant content and enhance brand awareness among target customers.
Boosted website traffic and improved SEO performance
Thoughtfully placed links with descriptive anchor text to your website can help drive valuable traffic, so be strategic about the links you include. You want to avoid appearing spammy—both to readers and search engines. Hence, make sure to post on legitimate, top-authority sites.
A new flow of leads (eventually)
Guest posting is a long game, and it takes time to build trust and drive engagement among audiences outside your own channels. That said, when you include links to back to your own site, make sure they route visitors to more top-funnel content, like another blog post or a video. You don’t want to immediately inundate readers with mid- or bottom-funnel content if you don’t yet know where they are in their customer journey.
Guest posting can also pose a few challenges, including:
Difficulty in measuring success
As Rand Fishkin writes, guest posting is incredibly hard to measure, since you can’t really track performance metrics for content posted outside your own channels. However, your publishing partner might be willing to share performance data with you, so it can’t hurt to ask.
Use of time, effort, and resources
Guest posting means developing and creating net-new content for another brand’s blog, which takes time and effort. And each new company you partner with will have their own requirements, preferences, and other guidelines to abide by, so a guest post could take considerably more time to create than writing posts for your own blog.
Imprecise audience targeting
With guest posting, it’s only a best guess as to whether your content resonates with the audience of your publishing partner. Since you can’t specifically target audiences aligned with your ICP, it’s tough to gauge if you’re actually connecting with ideal customers.
Content syndication versus guest posting: which is right for you?
Both content syndication and guest posting are worthwhile marketing tactics. And they’re not mutually exclusive—you can do both. But when resources are limited, especially around content creation, you could get a bigger, more reliable return through content syndication.
In our recent content syndication bootcamp webinar, DemandScience Content Manager, Abbi Tanton, puts it best:
“Guest blogging is a wonderful opportunity to publish an original piece of content on a third-party site. But if you post that blog on your own website and then syndicate it to a third party, you not only reach your own audience, but the audiences of all those third-party sites as well. This drastically increases your reach, which is really the strength of content syndication.”
Ready to learn more about bringing your content syndication strategies to life? Watch the full bootcamp webinar for actionable tips on building a mix of DIY and outsourced activities to maximize the reach of your content.
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