Duplicate Content and the myth of Google penalties

What is duplicate content?

Duplicate content is essentially blocks of the same text published more than once on the web. It’s to be avoided as a practice as it delivers no value to web searchers (or the publisher) but contrary to opinion, it doesn’t result in penalties – not unless Google determines it to be a deliberate attempt to game (con) the search engine or an obvious content ‘scrape’. Scraped content is essentially content copied and pasted from one site to another. Google has ‘scraped’ content and low value-add content on its radar for 2011 as it works towards improving the quality and relevance of search results.

Google ultimately wants to deliver the most relevant (and quickest) search results to searchers and within that, they provide options (SERP listings) that are as unique as possible so it makes sense not to display the same thing twice. Similarly a real estate website shouldn’t display the same listing more than once if a user inputs ‘4 bedroom house’  into a search field. The second listing becomes redundant.

Searchers expect variation, so if you are publishing duplicate content, don’t expect more than one of those pages to display in search results.

While penalties don’t exist, duplicate content can harm your sites performance

There are no direct penalties from Google for duplicate content. However if you are publishing repetitive content – for instance two pages of the same content (whether on your website or in a blog), then Google won’t display both pages in their search results, so there is no value in doing so. It makes more sense to have original and relevant content written to give your site the best chance of generating more traffic.

Google has addressed the issue of duplicate content on many occasions and have confirmed that where they see duplicate content, the URLs are grouped together and the most relevant one is chosen as the page to represent that group of URLs.

To ensure you get the most from your website, publish fresh content regularly. Regular, informative content publication generates repeat traffic as your target market identifies you as an authoritative source of information in your industry, which in turn builds customer loyalty and spreads positive word of mouth about your business.

How to deal with duplicate content

For most internet marketers, duplication of content shouldn’t be an issue at least in terms of penalties. However in order to get the most from your website and blog, you want to ensure your content is varied and relevant, giving your website the best chance of ranking highly for a wider spread of search terms.

Instead of writing content purely for the sake of trying to show search engines you have made an effort to publish fresh content, think about how you can help your website visitor. Is what you are about to publish likely to be new to some or all of your target audience? Will your website visitor be more informed as a result of reading the content?

If you are concerned about your content being scraped, regularly include hyperlinks to different pages of your website. Having link anchor text in your content regularly (without overkill!) will ensure that if content scrapers try to scrape your content, the hyperlink will display your web pages, which hints to Google that you are the original publisher of the content and therefore more entitled to be listed higher on search results.

The rankings of scraped content has been the subject of much debate in recent months as content farms and scrapers have managed to rank above the original publisher of content. Google is addressing this issue but obviously there are going to be teething problems with any new process, especially in an environment as extensive as the internet.

Get more from your online presence with roi.com.au’s professional copywriting service

For many Australian business owners, finding the time to regularly publish new content on blogs and websites is difficult maintain. If you would like to explore how regular content updates can add value to your online presence and create more sales opportunities for your business, call roi.com.au on 1300 650 274 to learn about our professional copywriting service. We put your business first!

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