If the primary purpose of distributing content is to gain links, both authors and publishers risk a Google penalty.
Google’s out today with a warning for anyone who is distributing or publishing content through syndication or other large-scale means: Watch your links.
No content marketing primarily for links, warns Google
Google says that it is not against article distribution in general. But if such distribution is done primarily to gain links, then there’s a problem. From the post:
Google does not discourage these types of articles in the cases when they inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company. However, what does violate Google’s guidelines on link schemes is when the main intent is to build links in a large-scale way back to the author’s site …
For websites creating articles made for links, Google takes action on this behavior because it’s bad for the Web as a whole. When link building comes first, the quality of the articles can suffer and create a bad experience for users.
Those pushing such content want links because links — especially from reputable publishers — are one of the top ways that content can rank better on Google.
What are things that may tip Google into viewing a content distribution campaign as perhaps violating its guidelines? Again, from the post:
Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on
Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site
Nofollow prevents individual links from passing along ranking credit. Canonical effectively tells Google not to let any of the links on the page pass credit.