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In our business, everyone recites the familiar refrain that duplicate content should be avoided at all costs. The argument is that duplicate content can harm a website’s search engine rankings, which is true to a degree, but there is a common misconception that Google will de-list websites found to have duplicate content. This just isn’t true.

Google does not punish website owners for publishing syndicated content or for syndicating content to others.

When it comes to duplicating your own content within your own site, there can be negative effects, but syndicating your content may simply result in losing your position to another website, which is not the end of the world.

Here are some of the ways that Google deals with duplicate content:

Republishing articles that have been syndicated by other websites:

When you take syndicated articles and publish them on your website, Google will see two closely matching pages on two separate domain names. One of the two articles may become more relevant in search results than the other, depending on the search term used to find the page and what surrounds the article on the site.

Google will decide, based on a wide variety of factors, which article is the most relevant one. In most cases, Google will show the original, unless your copy is more relevant to the searcher’s needs.

Having articles republished by other websites:

Google will ultimately make the call about which page to show.

The thing is Google will not punish you for syndicating your content because that would destroy the notion of writing press releases. Press releases are written for the sole purpose of being republished, either in part or in full.

Having multiple copies of content on the same site:

Sometimes a website will have multiple URLs for the same content. If Google indexes both pages, Google will most likely show the more relevant page.

Duplicate Content and SEO

The negativity related to duplicate content stems from the fact that it may result in Google failing to crawl every page of a website. There is a chance that if there is an inordinate amount of duplication on your site, Google may deem crawling it a waste of time, and your rank could suffer.

The other concern among marketing experts is that other sites running your syndicated content may rank higher than for those articles if they have a stronger domain authority.

The best way to keep everything in check is to ensure that all of your pages have enough differentiated text to avoid accidental duplicated content.

The only time that duplicate content can really have a measurable negative effect on a website’s success, is when a business creates ten websites, using ten domain names, featuring the same content across the board.

Google will soon tag the sites as spam. It is better to put real effort into optimizing one domain properly, instead of trying to gain authority from ten.

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