Increase Digital Brand Visibility with Licensed Content

Using someone else’s content may seem counter-intuitive, but it can actually work to your benefit. Licensed content is a great resource for your brand when used appropriately. Keep reading to find out how to use licensed content to build your brand visibility.

Increase Digital Brand Visibility with Licensed Content

If you feel like developing content regular basis is difficult, licensed content can help. This content is usually ready to use and of high quality, making it easy to build your digital brand visibility.

What is Licensed Content?

Licensed content is created by third-parties that brands can legally syndicate from publishers. Brands can publish this content directly on their sites without having to change it. They can also have the option to send it out through email, social media, and other channels.

Why use Licensed Content?

Licensed content is great if you don’t have the resources to create new content every day.

55% of B2B companies have very small content teams (sometimes only one person) writing for their entire organization. This could mean that they might not be able to create high-quality and relevant content regularly.

This makes licensed content a valuable resource.

Websites now have access to hundreds of articles a day, which allows them to establish a regular publishing routine. Plus, the content that they have access to is already edited and copyedited.

SEE ALSO: How to Create a Social Content Strategy for Your Brand

Why Worry about Licensed Content?

Worry about licensed content came from the earlier days of the internet when people tried to play the system and rank higher on their SERPs because they could put different copies of their content on different domains.

People even stole their content from other websites.

Search engines were also confused by the multiple versions of content so they couldn’t tell where the content originated or which page to rank highest. It was a mess.

To stop this madness, Google started to penalize sites with duplicate content. This is something that has continued to this day.

People’s fear of licensed content is because they feel that Google will think the licensed content is a duplicate and hand out penalties as they feel necessary.

SEE ALSO: How To Handle Stolen Content

However, Google can tell the difference between licensed content and duplicate content.

Google created canonical URL tags that allow search engines to recognize which site originally published an article and which site has licensed it.

When you publish licensed content with canonical tags, you will be citing the original author and protecting yourself from possible penalties. This includes a duplicate content penalty.

licensed content

Now that search engines can tell where the content originated from; they will give the original owner the highest ranking. This means that using a lot of licensed content won’t help you to get to the top ten in the search results. You’ll have to create your own content for that.

How does Licensed Content Boost SEO?

Licensed content can play a big role in growing your site’s SEO because SEO relies on numerous data points.

The weight of the hundreds of factors in Google’s algorithm changes on a daily basis. However, content has remained as one of the most important SEO signals. Google has said that content is the #2 SEO factor.

Therefore, engaging, educational, and entertaining content can build your brand’s awareness. This will drive traffic and influence buyer’s decisions which all lead to higher search ranking.

SEE ALSO: 8 Link Building Strategies To Enhance Your Digital Brand

What Practices Should I Follow?

Use your own voice

Search engines will give each piece of digital content the equivalent of a fingerprint to make them unique.

A marketer cannot change licensed content. That is one of the rules that licensed content agreements have. When you publish a licensed article exactly how it originally was published then its fingerprint will remain the same.

There is a way to change the fingerprint of the article without violating the licensed content agreement. To do this, you just need to write an introduction to your article that contains your own opinion on the subject addressed.

Writing one or two sentences won’t create a substantial difference between the same licensed articles, but it will reinforce your brand’s opinion. You get to address whether it’s good or bad, what you like about it or don’t, and even what you would do differently.

This will change the fingerprint of the article and make it yours. Thus, it will help your rankings because Google sees it as a new piece.

Build your authority

Just to reiterate, content is the second-most important factor for SEO on Google, with only links outranking it. So, providing high-quality, informing and engaging content will make Google rank your content higher.

Licensed content can help with that because it can help you build depth of content around key topics. You will be consistently publishing high-quality articles following just a few subjects which will cause Google to recognize you as an authority in those areas.

If you only have time to write one article a week and used licensed content for the other one, then your site will contain more quality content and show search engines that you’re a credible source.

Because links are the number one factor for SEO, increasing internal and external links will increase your viewability. If you link to your own content, then you’re telling Google that you have more articles about your key topics.

This will also tell Google that you’re an authority on your key topics.

Additionally, your links to other outbound sites will show solidarity with your brands and may lead to links back to you from them.

Interestingly, one of the greatest benefits of social sharing is the ability to earn more inbound links. Social sharing introduces your content to a wider audience very quickly, potentially introducing it to key authors and influencers who might read it, and find it compelling enough to link to it in their own future publications. Without a social mode of distribution, it’s hard to get attention for even your best work.


Conversely, distributing licensed content on social media can provide cross-traffic benefits. The agreements between licensed content and marketers allow them to share articles on social media. Social media posts will help SEO because content can be shared by followers, creating cross-traffic benefits.

More people are also willing to share content on social media when it’s coming from a credible source, so that will also help social shares.

Establish regular publishing

Search engines will reward the sites that publish content on a regular basis. A regular basis is up to what is normal for your site. This could be once a day or ten times a day, it all depends on you.

If you need licensed content to publish more, then use it. More content on a regular basis is more of a benefit than only intermittently publishing your own content.

SEE ALSO: 7 Steps to Creating and Executing an Editorial Calendar

What should I worry about when using licensed content?

The biggest thing to look out for is whether or not your whole website has been made using licensed content. This is generally a ‘no no’.

At most you should only be using about 50% licensed content with the other 50% being original content. This will help you to avoid problems with search engines.

Original content will always rank higher than licensed content

The odds are not very good that the licensed content you used will rank higher on your website than it did on its original page.

That being said, there are some cases where you might be able to rank higher with your licensed content. Once such case is if you use content from a large publisher who is capable of churning out dozens of articles a day. These publishers can’t heavily promote each of their pieces. It’s just not possible.

If the original publisher hasn’t given this article any focus and you’re able to promote it right, you could outrank the original site for this particular piece.

licensed content

Creative Commons is a great option if you are looking to get started using licensed content.

Final Thoughts

Licensed content can give your brand the boost it’s been looking for if used correctly. If you’re a small business that can’t create a lot of your own content, licensed content can create continuity and regularity for your brand that you can’t give it on your own.

Remember the 50/50 rule, never allow more than 50% of your content to be licensed content. Be sure to produce enough of your own content not to be bogged down and hidden beneath the original publishers of the content you’re using.

Do you think licensed content can negatively affect your digital brand?

Written by
Juntae DeLane

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