Canonical Links and SEO Tunnel Vision: More Questions about Licensed Content, Answered

Canonical Links and SEO Tunnel Vision: More Questions about Licensed Content, Answered

by John de Guzman

3 minute read

NewsCred has the only content marketing platform (CMP) that includes a marketplace of licensed content, AKA ready-to-syndicate articles from respected publishers. The first question I usually hear from marketers about using licensed content is, “What about SEO?”

Here’s our POV, validated by years of customer data: licensed content will not hurt your site’s SEO, and it can even help.

Now, let’s dive into why!

How Can Licensed Content Actually Help Overall Site SEO?

Syndicated content has a bad reputation because, well, it kinda earned it. Before the introduction of canonical links, the internet was the wild west with multiple copies of the same article everywhere — some published legally, many not — and search engines like Google had no way to make sense of the madness. Canonical links (a small line of code on your article that looks like “page: rel=canonical”) allow search engines to organize the internet and identify copies of articles vs the original. 

NewsCred has partnerships with thousands of publishers to give our customers access to rights-cleared, properly implemented syndicated content. There is no negative SEO impact when you publish our partner content because we build canonical links into our publication process.

In fact, there is an SEO benefit. While syndicated articles won’t outrank the original publisher content, it may help you gain Domain Authority. While backlink authority would still get passed to the original publisher (due to the rel=canonical tag), syndicated content can still help Google understand what your site is about and help it gain overall authority in the space. The way I look at it, you get to stand on the shoulders of giants like Forbes, CIO, Business Insider, Ad Age, Bloomberg, AP and others in our library. Our licensed content also tends to have very high engagement rates, which may indirectly help your site’s overall rankings.

[For further reading, visit last year’s piece on How Licensed Content Can Help SEO: All Your Questions, Answered.]

Why Should Content Marketers Avoid SEO Tunnel Vision?

SEO is really important to a content marketing program, and we have a lot of recommendations about how to optimize your hub’s SEO from both a content and technical POV. However, don’t put all your eggs in the SEO basket! When marketers dedicate all their content resources to a single traffic source, the program and results are unbalanced. Are you be surprised to hear that a significant number of our NewsCred customers don’t have SEO as the most important channel for engagement and conversions? Channels like social and email can generate traffic just as qualified as organic search, and these channels really benefit from a steady publishing cadence; licensed content is the perfect fuel.

As a general rule, the more you publish, the more traffic you can drive. A recent report by Hubspot included benchmark data across their 13,500 customers, showing that companies publishing more than 16 blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies that published between less than 5 posts per month. If you are relying strictly on original content to power your hub, it’s very hard to get this type of scale for channels like social and newsletters — even large, multi-agency teams with high creation bandwidth get bottlenecks on approvals and reviews.

Licensed content can boost publishing agility and speed, especially for top-of-funnel topics. When it comes to ROI, it can take our customers less than a day to curate and publish licensed content; original content can take longer than that just to pitch. Needless to say, this makes licensed content a very efficient part of your content mix. Ultimately, licensed content can support a content marketing program whether you want to support lead generation, scale a newsletter program, or launch a new hub — and you shouldn’t be afraid it’ll require sacrificing organic traffic to get there.

John de Guzmán ( is the General Manager of NewsCred’s Content Marketplace.