Medium has long been considered a leader in community-driven content management systems (CMS). Bloggers and publishers first flocked to the platform for its community-focus and minimal-design approach and now businesses have followed suit with the hope that they can leverage the blogger community to grow their brand exposure. Unfortunately, using this platform to fulfill your blogging needs has certain drawbacks in the form of SEO and terms of service that don't make the platform as appealing as businesses would think.
One of the biggest drawbacks of using Medium for business purposes is its lack of support for link building SEO efforts. Any outbound links by default carry “rel=nofollow” attributes, which poses two problems, the first being that all of your hard work is contributing to Medium’s authority score, not your own domain, and two, link building efforts are not possible. As a result, your content will only be as valuable as the traffic that is driven to your website by clicking on outbound links. I'm not saying that this limitation is ineffective in helping gain organic reach, but it severely limits the shelf life of your content and provides no help in growing your domain's SEO efforts.
Some may think that a good way to circumvent this SEO limitation is to duplicate the content on your own domain, but I highly advise you against doing this. Google’s search engine guidelines strongly oppose duplicate content and penalizes pages that are found to be duplicates. The way that original content is differentiated from replicated content comes down to which content was published first and who has the higher domain authority. As a result, this criteria will almost always favor a website like Medium due to its 84 domain authority (Moz measurement). A ranking of this stature indicates that it is one of the most trusted websites on the internet by Google’s criteria. Your website’s content will never win so it is not worth the effort of battling for keyword rankings.
Beyond the issues with the platforms SEO capabilities is its terms of service. I don’t believe that the team at Medium ever plans to do anything nefarious with your content, but their terms of service states that they are free to use your content in any manner that they would like (Medium Terms of Service).
By posting content to Medium, you give us a nonexclusive license to publish it on Medium Services, including anything reasonably related to publishing it (like storing, displaying, reformatting, and distributing it)... We may also use your content to promote Medium, including its products and content.
I rarely see abusive power from terms of service like the one above, but it still opens up doors for the platform to use your content at their will. This is something important to remember when considering your business's intellectual property. As your company scales larger and legal teams becomes more involved in business operations this might be a liability and will cause a significant amount of resources to transition the content off of the platform.
Medium isn’t the only CMS that operates in this manner, so you shouldn’t be quick to call them evil, but it should make you more cautious before you integrate a 3rd party service into your business. Make sure you read through the terms of service and determine if the reward of using the platform will be worth the potential risk. From my personal experience I believe that If you plan on having an aggressive content strategy to grow your business's organic reach, then it is important to have a blog on your own domain or use a CMS that will allow you to pass link juice back to your domain to help drive rankings. If your goal is to harness Medium’s user base to spread brand awareness, then it is worth creating a publication on the platform and populating it with content that is either brand-related or discussion based. Just remember that if you fit the criteria of the latter group that you are making two sacrifices up front that might cause issues when you start to scale.