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Protect your SEO when crossposting

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Writing something and waiting for people to find it doesn’t work. After publishing something, we need to make others aware of it. Nobody will know about what we’re doing unless we tell them about it. It sounds obvious, but I had to learn that lesson the hard way.

Very few people hang out on my website. Lots of people hang out on services like dev.to, Hashnode, and Medium. I have started crossposting my blog posts and newsletters to these to spread the word. Posting the same content to many sites is fine when we know what we’re doing. When done carelessly, it can negatively impact our SEO scores.

When search engines find the same content under more than one URL, they consider it duplicate. They don’t usually show duplicates in search results, so they pick one for us. That might not be the version we want them to use.

On top of that, duplicates weaken each other’s rank in the search engines’ algorithms. Search engines give a value to every page. If a page with a high value links to another page, that increases the value of the page behind that link.

When sites link to the different copies, each duplicate gets just part of the entire link juice.

Each duplicate gets its own serving of link juice.
Each duplicate gets its own serving of link juice.

To fix this, the duplicates can all point to one main copy and declare it the canonical version. We can do this with a link-tag placed in the <head> of an HTML document:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://domhabersack.com/should">
<link rel="canonical" href="https://domhabersack.com/should">

All link juice the copies would receive gets passed to the canonical version.

Copies pass their link juice to the canonical version.
Copies pass their link juice to the canonical version.

When crossposting to another service, make sure you’re always pointing back to your own site. It doesn’t matter how many duplicates there are. Their combined link juice now counts towards a single canonical version.

If you blog on any service and don’t have a blog under your own domain yet, set one up today. Make the copies on your own site the canonical versions of all your posts. It does not matter if people don’t link directly to your own blog yet. If they link to any copy, you still get the SEO benefits for your own domain.

If you’re not crossposting yet, go ahead and put your content on these other services as well. As long as you’re setting the canonical URLs, your future self and SEO will thank you.

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