Whether you’re using Medium, LinkedIn, or your own blog, there’s no shortage of places to publish your thought pieces. But with so much choice it’s natural to ask: “Which platform should I publish my content on?

The usual answer is to post wherever your audience lives. That’s not much help if you’re just starting out, or if you want to experiment with that new blogging technology you’ve heard so much about. What if you’re active on multiple social media platforms? Is it acceptable to spam the same article across all of them?

Fi Shailes is a digital manager and owner of Digital Drum. She knows a thing or two about content so I asked her for some advice.

You can treat each platform as a separate channel through which you can communicate with your readers. If you’ve got followers on multiple platforms, there’s no reason you can’t share a single article on both. Publish on whatever platforms you want.

There is one rule though: you must pick a single authoritative source for your content.

You need a single location that acts as your main hub. There’s a number of reasons for that and I’ve written before about why I think it should be your personal site and not some third-party host.

The best reason is SEO.

If you publish the same post on more than one site, search engines will rank each page separately, which means they’ll be competing with each other for ranking positions. If you’re putting your personal blog up against Medium or Facebook, you’re unlikely to outrank them.

By using the technique outlined below you can actually make the SEO of the major platforms work for you. Before we get into the mechanics of linking back to your personal site, let’s take a look at how an expert does it.

Bill Gates - multi-channel publishing master

Bill Gates writes a lot of pieces on his personal site, www.gatesnotes.com. And I mean a lot. Sometimes he posts multiple times a day. With all that content you better believe he’s figured out how to promote it effectively.

He recently wrote an article on 5 amazing books he read in 2017. Here’s the tweet.

And the Facebook post.

You’ve probably noticed some similarities. The big one is that it doesn’t matter which platform he’s posting on he’s always driving traffic back to his personal blog.

His “amazing books” article also appeared fully-reproduced on LinkedIn Pulse. If you scroll to the bottom you’ll see a backlink to gatesnotes.com.

Now, the intent with this backlink isn’t the same as the one on Twitter or Facebook because it isn’t primarily being used to get readers to head over to gatesnotes.com. Since the entire article is posted on LinkedIn, it’s a good bet that viewers have already read the whole thing by the time they get to this link.

Instead, these kinds of links are for the benefit of search engines. They tell search engines where the authoritative article lives.

This is how you can use the SEO reputation of major publishing platforms to boost your own site’s rankings — with high-quality backlinks and by denoting your site as the primary content source.

Use the rel=canonical tag to point to your original post

The way to get search engines to understand this primary-secondary relationship for duplicate content is with the rel HTML attribute. It tells a web browser about the relationship between the current page and a linked page. Search engines use it to better understand links.

Google provides a rather helpful article on using rel=canonical to indicate the preferred URL which explains how to insert a <link> element into the <head> section of your page, e.g. including,

<link rel="canonical" href="https://mypersonalsite.com/orig-source" />

tells search engines that https://mypersonalsite.com/orig-source is the canonical location of your post.

How Medium uses rel=canonical

Medium has some articles for dealing with using the rel tag for duplicate content.

It even has some tools for automatically importing posts from elsewhere and adding in the correct rel=canonical values, so you don’t need to manually insert them.

They go as far as suggesting that authors should be pointing at their personal blogs and using the SEO reputation of medium.com to their advantage.

However, bloggers can use this strong SEO to their benefit. By using Medium’s official import tools, you can reap the benefits of high discoverability on Medium while still crediting all authority towards your own blog using Medium’s canonical URLs.

How LinkedIn uses rel=canonical

While doing research for this post I discovered that it’s actually not possible to include a rel=canonical attribute in your LinkedIn posts.

There are multiple posts that suggest that the search engines are smart enough to figure out that your site is the canonical one if you re-publish your articles on LinkedIn.

Joost de Valk, the creator of Yoast, answered this question directly in one of the Ask Yoast videos on duplicating content on LinkedIn Pulse.

To be honest, if you post your own blog post first, make sure that it’s indexed in Google and then post it on Pulse with a link underneath the posting: “This post originally appeared on…” linking back to your blog post. If you do this, you should be okay.

It’s not rel=canonical, but Google is smart enough to understand most of that and work its way through, so you should be okay.

I think LinkedIn is a special case. I wouldn’t trust search engines to figure this out automatically for every syndication site. In general, you should be looking to tag your duplicated content with rel=canonical.

Post everywhere

Publishing platforms are always hungry for content and there a greater benefits to posting your work than just getting eyeballs to read your words.

By publishing your articles on multiple platforms you can reach (or build) your audience wherever they are. Including rel=canonical tags, manually or automatically, to link to your personal blog (you do publish your content there first, right?) ensures that you get the maximum SEO benefits while keeping control of your content.

With so many upsides, why wouldn’t you publish everywhere you can?