Many webmasters talk about the duplicate content penalty, but few understand it’s impact on SEO. This article will shed some needed light on this topic.
What is the Duplicate Content Penalty?
Duplicate content is exactly what it sounds like. Copying content from one page and republishing it somewhere else. The duplicate content penalty is Google’s way of preventing website owners from “gaming the system” by refusing to display multiple versions of the same article in it’s search results.
Understanding Google’s SEO Practices
Google wants to deliver value to people who use it’s search engine. For this topic, that means showing a diverse selection of results when you perform a search. No one would want to see the top 10 search results filled with exact copies of the same article. Google knows this and eliminates showing exact copies as well as extremely similar pages.
Google knows you want to see a good selection of pages that are relevant to your search and different enough from each other to be unique. This prevents webmasters from copying an entire site and reproducing all the content on other domains. Yes, believe it or not webmasters would try to game the system to get more traffic. Who knew?
How Does Google Decide Which Article to Show?
There’s some debate about this, but it usually comes down to two factors. Who does Google believe is the authority for this content, and who is the original poster of this content. If you’re the first person to publish content on your website and then other people copy your content and link back to your page, Google tends to figure out that you are the authority.
Is Duplicate Content Bad?
Duplicate content isn’t always bad. It’s ok to periodically copy an article and republish it. Just be sure to give credit to the content owner and follow their guidelines for republishing. Google knows that if someone puts up good content other people will reference that article and copy it for their own websites.
Why People are confused about the Duplicate Content Penalty
Google doesn’t want to offer 10 versions of the same article in it’s search results, so it will only show what it thinks is the original article or the source article. This is why you don’t want to have a lot of duplicate content on your website. Those duplicated articles will never rank in Google.
This is the most important thing to understand. Duplicate content doesn’t affect an entire site. It only affects that page.
The only exception to this is if Google perceives that you are not offering anything new. Google doesn’t like spamy or thin content with no real substance. Webmasters that endlessly copy content may have their sites penalized in other ways.
It doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally copy a good article and put it on your site. It just means you don’t want to have a site that filled with lots of duplicate content.
I wouldn’t personally worry very much about this much as it’s normal to occasionally republish excellent content that can add a lot of value for your readers. Just don’t expect that one page to rank in Google’s search.
Suggestion: If you are going to republish an article on your site, it’s better to write your own original thoughts/synopsis and then link to the article you wanted to share. That way your pages are all completely unique in Google’s eyes. But again, occasionally republishing an article on your site is not a bad thing… it just wont rank in Google.
Article Marketing & SEO
What if you are publishing your articles on other websites? If you are publishing an article to create links back to your website then it doesn’t matter if it’s duplicate content. Do you care if both EzineArticles and GoArticles both rank in Google for your content? Not usually. If you’re publishing articles to get backlinks, then you probably don’t care. It’s the links that count.
Article Marketing for Traffic
If you are marketing articles for traffic then you probably DO care if you are publishing articles to article directories and blogs that are exact duplicates… because Google will usually only rank the first page that it finds because it will think that page is the authority. I’m not suggesting this is good, but that’s why article marketers often use Content Spinners to create different versions of the same article automatically.
Do you have an opinion on the Seo Duplicate Content Penalty? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.