Why It’s OK to Syndicate with Your Competitors

Create inbound links by partnering with others in your online publishing circle

The old-school mentality that competitors should be kept at a distance is exactly that – an old school mentality. In 2010 many of our clients and lots of other online publishers have been very successful driving website traffic by making friends with would-be competitors.

Let’s face it. A company is a competitor when you believe that you’re targeting the same audience. The audience might read both of your publications, or they might read just one. When two competitors come together to syndicate online content, you’re reaching the folks who otherwise chose your competitor over you.

On Monday, longtime rivals Google and the Associated Press reached an agreement where Google will syndicate content from AP. According to the article on Yahoo:

“The multiyear agreement announced Monday has two key components: an undisclosed payment for the rights to AP’s content, and a data-sharing arrangement aimed at helping the news cooperative make more money across the Internet.”

Also according to the article, “as part of that process, AP renewed its licensing agreement with Yahoo Inc. earlier this year and is trying to strike a new deal with Microsoft Corp.” If you check out the beta FastFlip program that Google has already established with 90+ other publishers, you can see that they really are trying to cater to the needs publishers.

Back to the point though. AP & Google wouldn’t traditionally be considered competitors because we’re talking search engine vs. content. Google wants to give everything away and AP wants to get paid for it. Still, if these two can strike a deal after a long feud, is it so hard to shake hands with people in your industry?

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Here are a few examples of publishers who may traditionally be competitors and are working through it, to the benefit of both publishers.

Mequoda & SIPA – Sure, we might look like competitors from the outside, but get us in a room together and it’s a warm embrace. We both see what one another can bring to the table and we partner on events, promotions and even blog posts.

Yahoo! and Men’s Health – Yahoo needs content to satisfy their advertisers and Men’s Health needs inbound links to their website. So what do they do? Face-of-the-brand David Zinczenko writes articles for Yahoo Health which link back to different articles on the Men’s Health site.

I suppose we can’t really divulge the relationships we’ve nurtured between clients and colleagues who are in similar industries and have traded, but let’s just say this:

If you are in a distinct niche, and your competitor has experience in a portion that you don’t necessarily touch upon (and vice versa), it’s very much OK to trade content. When discussing a content trade agreement, make sure that these elements are included in the agreement:

  • Links to articles on your own site – you might discuss a content to link density.
  • Bio within the articles that points back to your website.
  • Ability to link to free lead-generating products on your website.

Of course you can’t make your articles ads. You won’t be adding value to their website and their readers will instantly be turned off by you if they see that you’re a sales pitch. The instant your competitor/new friend starts getting emails from their readers about the quality of your content, the deal will be off.

So what you can start doing today to get your competitors on board? First, analyze your competition and find where you can help them, and then where they can help you. Next, pick up the phone. Send emails. Hop to it!


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