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Danger of Duplicate Content?

After my “Should you worry about SEO” post yesterday a reader asked about Googles Duplicate Content penalty. He was worried about cross-posting his articles and also spammers ripping off his content. I know this is a problem many bloggers, especially freelance writers, are concerned about.

Another concern was the effect on his PageRank. Let’s clear that one up first. Don’t worry about pagerank. The only time PageRank matters is when selling links, etc. Look further than the green on a toolbar, it only has financial value because other people perceive it has value. One or two duplicated articles will not impact PR by too much.

So PageRank might not be a worry duplicate content could still drag down your ranking in the search results. Usually if Google finds two identical pages it will only display the first and most authoritative page to be indexed. This is why it is rare for all but a couple of those article syndication sites to rank higher than the authors own site.

What usually happens is the first page to be indexed is the one on the site Google prefers anyway, or perhaps the one that gets the best links. All the others will be ignored or put into supplemental results to avoid filling the search results with the same content.

To avoid this you need to not post identical content yourself if you can help it. If you want to distribute articles for republication or syndication provide modified content for this purpose. The more different you can make it the better.

As far as all the spammy aggregation sites, don’t sweat it. They only get poor quality links so don’t tend to out-rank the original. There are solutions to even this, such as DMCA notices.

Just another reason to create unique, original, valuable content!

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Comments

  1. Chris,

    If I were a content ‘publisher’ or ‘aggregator’ and I wanted to aggregate stories from different authors but still allow them to maintain their own blog – could that stifle either one of the pieces of content?

    In other words, Doug writes about Ajax. I have an Ajax blog that pulls from 100 different blogs that speak to Ajax but it only pulls in articles tagged for “Ajax”… would one of the sites be penalized?

    Thanks,
    Doug

  2. Chris,

    If I were a content ‘publisher’ or ‘aggregator’ and I wanted to aggregate stories from different authors but still allow them to maintain their own blog – could that stifle either one of the pieces of content?

    In other words, Doug writes about Ajax. I have an Ajax blog that pulls from 100 different blogs that speak to Ajax but it only pulls in articles tagged for “Ajax”… would one of the sites be penalized?

    Thanks,
    Doug

  3. Chris,

    1) web pages need a certain threshold of PageRank pointing to them before they are indexed in Google – plus PageRank is an easy reflection of a page’s link popularity, which in turn

    So it’s not unimportant. But you’re right, as far as duplicate content is concerned, PageRank is definitely not an issue.

    2) Usually with SEs the first instance of a page is considered the original. Copies may still be ranked higher though, but not because the first page got a dupe content penalty, but because the second page was more authoritative.

    Duplicate content does not automatically translate into a penalty. Below a certain threshold (for a web page as well as for a site), dupe content isn’t something to ‘worry’ about.

    If your whole site (or a significant portion) of it is being scrapped, keep in mind that usually these sites themselves have very poor quality links. So if you’re doing things right (flagship content and all that), you don’t have anything to worry about.

    In short, cross-posting is too small a thing to be a problem, and if you do your SEO / blog marketing right you have nothing to worry about with spammers either.

  4. Chris,

    1) web pages need a certain threshold of PageRank pointing to them before they are indexed in Google – plus PageRank is an easy reflection of a page’s link popularity, which in turn

    So it’s not unimportant. But you’re right, as far as duplicate content is concerned, PageRank is definitely not an issue.

    2) Usually with SEs the first instance of a page is considered the original. Copies may still be ranked higher though, but not because the first page got a dupe content penalty, but because the second page was more authoritative.

    Duplicate content does not automatically translate into a penalty. Below a certain threshold (for a web page as well as for a site), dupe content isn’t something to ‘worry’ about.

    If your whole site (or a significant portion) of it is being scrapped, keep in mind that usually these sites themselves have very poor quality links. So if you’re doing things right (flagship content and all that), you don’t have anything to worry about.

    In short, cross-posting is too small a thing to be a problem, and if you do your SEO / blog marketing right you have nothing to worry about with spammers either.

  5. Chris I am interested in your thoughts on why blog posts are not always listed in Google.

    I checked my links for my blog and I don’t have duplicate posts yet most of the posts are not coming up in the search engines – I’ve over 500 pages of content on my blog.

    I am wondering if having a comprehensive template for my blog is making Google not see the page content as different even though most of my posts are over 500 words in length and pages much longer.

    Have you experienced this to be the case for your blogs or do you find Google lists all your pages/posts?

  6. Chris I am interested in your thoughts on why blog posts are not always listed in Google.

    I checked my links for my blog and I don’t have duplicate posts yet most of the posts are not coming up in the search engines – I’ve over 500 pages of content on my blog.

    I am wondering if having a comprehensive template for my blog is making Google not see the page content as different even though most of my posts are over 500 words in length and pages much longer.

    Have you experienced this to be the case for your blogs or do you find Google lists all your pages/posts?

  7. Interesting article Chris. I spent a large amount of time last year wondering about the benefits and downfalls of posting my articles on many platforms, even if they were simply excerpts, in order to have more entry points to my site.

    For example, if I would post something on my site, I would also try to post a small excerpt on my LiveJournal and MySpace blogs linking back to my site. After a while, I realized that even though I was getting more traffic, my content, even in small excerpts, was available in more places than necessary. I was running my efforts thin. I then started removing all extra content from all other external sites and now have my site as the only focus point for writing my articles so far.

    I was thinking about the effect of having just a few posts duplicated elsewhere in their entirely also. I participated in some essay competitions recently and had some key articles published twice: once on my site and once on the competition site. I have to look into this further, though after reading your article I guess it should be all right to have just a few articles posted in more than one spot.

    Thanks for clarifying the issue. 🙂

  8. Interesting article Chris. I spent a large amount of time last year wondering about the benefits and downfalls of posting my articles on many platforms, even if they were simply excerpts, in order to have more entry points to my site.

    For example, if I would post something on my site, I would also try to post a small excerpt on my LiveJournal and MySpace blogs linking back to my site. After a while, I realized that even though I was getting more traffic, my content, even in small excerpts, was available in more places than necessary. I was running my efforts thin. I then started removing all extra content from all other external sites and now have my site as the only focus point for writing my articles so far.

    I was thinking about the effect of having just a few posts duplicated elsewhere in their entirely also. I participated in some essay competitions recently and had some key articles published twice: once on my site and once on the competition site. I have to look into this further, though after reading your article I guess it should be all right to have just a few articles posted in more than one spot.

    Thanks for clarifying the issue. 🙂

  9. Thanks all for your comments and questions.

    Bottom line, try as best as you can to have unique content well linked, internally and from other sites.

    If you are aggregating, ask yourself how you are adding value, interest and uniqueness over and above the posts own value. For example, are you driving traffic and visibility that the authors wouldn’t attain any other way? Are there unique comments not made otherwise? Is there a good mix of republished and original content. If you are the wrong side of the 80/20% equation you will probably have to do a lot more promotion to be visible in searches.

    One or two articles duplicated will not create an issue, and could in fact help promote your other content. Think of shared articles as press releases to publicise rather than attract search traffic. The only problem comes with too much dupe content, the threshold probably varies between industries and niches but if the majority of your content can be found elsewhere you have a problem.

    Templates should not cause dupe issues. Make sure all your content is linked, has unique titles and at least first few paragraphs. Consider using the google sitemap service. Try to get more deep links to posts.

    Hope this helps

  10. Thanks all for your comments and questions.

    Bottom line, try as best as you can to have unique content well linked, internally and from other sites.

    If you are aggregating, ask yourself how you are adding value, interest and uniqueness over and above the posts own value. For example, are you driving traffic and visibility that the authors wouldn’t attain any other way? Are there unique comments not made otherwise? Is there a good mix of republished and original content. If you are the wrong side of the 80/20% equation you will probably have to do a lot more promotion to be visible in searches.

    One or two articles duplicated will not create an issue, and could in fact help promote your other content. Think of shared articles as press releases to publicise rather than attract search traffic. The only problem comes with too much dupe content, the threshold probably varies between industries and niches but if the majority of your content can be found elsewhere you have a problem.

    Templates should not cause dupe issues. Make sure all your content is linked, has unique titles and at least first few paragraphs. Consider using the google sitemap service. Try to get more deep links to posts.

    Hope this helps

  11. Thanks for taking the time out! It helps a lot!

  12. Thanks for taking the time out! It helps a lot!