Four Syndication Technologies for Website Content

You can syndicate content from your website in basically four ways. Two of these methods are good, but two of the methods may not help you with search engines. Use the wrong methods, and it doesn’t matter how widely you distribute your content; there’s a good chance it won’t bring any search-engine benefit. (It could still bring traffic through the links in the articles, though.)

The following list details the four main syndication technologies:

  • Browser-side inclusion: Many syndicators employ browser-side content inclusion through the use of JavaScripts; a JavaScript in a web page pulls the article off the syndicating site. The problem is that the web browser runs the JavaScripts when the page loads.

    Searchbots, however, don’t always run JavaScripts. It’s true that in recent years Googlebot has begun reading JavaScripts, but it’s still not clear how often and how well. There’s a distinct chance that if you use JavaScripts to insert content into your pages, the content may not get indexed, and if so Google will not see the link to your site in the content.

    Although site visitors will see the links (and some may click), you won't get the benefit of the link popularity in the search engines.

  • Hosted content: Some content syndicators, generally those selling content, host the content on their own servers, and the sites using the content link to it. The content appears, to the visitor, to be sitting on a different site, but, in fact, it’s on the hosting-company’s domain.

    The problem with this method is that if you host content for, say, 50 sites, you don’t get the benefit of 50 links in the search engines. Rather, Google sees that you have the same article 50 times and ignores 49 of them.

  • Manual inclusion: This method works well for search engines; they see the content and the links to your site. The people you give the content to essentially copy and paste the content into their sites.

  • Server-side inclusion: You can do server-side inclusions a number of ways, such as by using INCLUDE commands, running PHP or ASP scripts (server-side scripts), or using RSS feeds. The advantage is that the search engines will see your content and the links back to your site. The disadvantage is that the methods are more complicated to use than either manual or browser-side inclusion.

To ensure that search engines see links to your website, don’t use the first or second methods. That leaves the last two, of which the third, manual inclusion, is easiest and by far the most common.

It’s possible to make a JavaScript-style syndication give you at least one link that is readable by the search engines. Typically, syndicators ask users to drop a piece of JavaScript into their pages. Of course, you can ask them to drop a piece of HTML that includes a JavaScript inside, along with a link outside the JavaScript. For instance, rather than use

<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript" src="http://www. 
     ronaldsrodents.com/content/article.js"></SCRIPT>

you can use

<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JavaScript" src="http://www. 
     ronaldsrodents.com/content/article.js"></SCRIPT><P><STRONG>Article 
     provided by <A HREF="http://ronaldsrodents.com>Ronald’s Racing 
     Rodents</A>. Visit us for more great articles on rodent racing.</P>
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