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Is Duplicate Content an SEO Myth?

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Any marketer you speak to about duplicate content is concerned about a “duplicate content penalty” but they are probably not very experienced with SEO. Google has specific guidelines on duplicate content and just because something appears several times online does not mean that the world is going to end. Although Google does not want duplicate content, they are not going to delete your website because of it.



Do you believe that having content on your site that is not original can affect your rankings? There is not concrete evidence that non-original content hurts the rank of a website. If there are a few copies of some content, that is not an issue. If there are hundreds or thousands of copies, that can pose a serious problem and furthermore, if all of that content appears at the same time, it is likely to attract negative attention from Google.

Many sites will repost articles that were published somewhere else previously. This content is not something that they expect to help their site rank, but it is not going to negatively affect the credibility of their domain.

Many people believe that scrapers hurt their website. More popular sites are scraped multiple times daily, but this does not mean they should be worried. Scrapers are not assisting you nor are they harming you. Some obscure blog in another country that scrapes your website’s content is simply not even relevant to Google. The fact is that most scrapers take all of the content, word for word and do not bother to change it up to make it original. They do not even bother to remove the links in the content which is linked to other pages on the original site. Your site may even enjoy some residual traffic from this copy job. If for some strange reason the content on a scraper site outranks yours, you need to report it to Google.

Scraped content is not the same as copyright infringement. There are times when a website will copy all of your content and maybe even your whole website and then claim that they created it. This is blatant plagiarism because they are taking your work and trying to pass it off as their own. Scrapers, on the other hand, do not do this. If someone signs their name to your work that is copyright infringement, and it is illegal.

If you find that your content has been completely copied and someone else is taking credit for it, you should be thinking about getting a lawyer, not getting in touch with the search engines.

Does republishing your own guest post on your site hurt your site?

If you do a lot of guest blogging and have a following on your own website, it is not very likely that you audience is going to see your guest posts that you posted on another website. You may be tempted to republish these guest posts on your own website. You should post content on your site that is completely original, not because you are going to be penalized by Google, but because you want to add value.

If you do create guest posts on other websites, sometimes the larger sites will encourage you to publish that post on your website after a few weeks. Some of those sites want you to add some HTML tags to your post. If you are ever republishing an article that has already been published elsewhere then you should use a canonical tag which shows search engines where the original version of the content is located.

You can write an opposing style article to the content that is posted. For example, you can write about “how to save money” as a guest post and then write “how to enjoy your money” on your own website which may have much of the same content but written in a different manner.

Googlebots visit sites all over the internet every day. If a copied version of a website is found, those bots can tell where they saw the original content, days, weeks, months or years before. Many people overreact to the duplicate content situation and some even panic but there is no need for that. Googlebot crawls your site, analyses what it sees and then moves on to the next site. You do not get penalized or blacklisted because of your content. You are not going to be penalized if your site has a few pages of unoriginal text. There is a massive amount of duplicate content on the internet and Google is fully aware. They have been working since 1997 to separate the originals from the copies.

So, what happens if your site is ranking high and then someone steals your content or copies your site? If your site is copied word for word, the copycat site may enjoy a high rank for a day, a week or a month, but once Google discovers the copy their rank will quickly drop. This is not a penalty; it is simply a correction to the natural order of the websites and how they should be indexed. The next time you feel concerned about duplicate content, remember, if the content is yours then you should not worry. If you are the one copying, remember that you should re-write that content to make it unique and usable.

Google is not out to punish duplicate content, but if there are thousands of sites with the same content, they are not going to rank and will not be rewarded for not bringing something new to the table. Google wants to keep the internet fresh and interesting and you can help with that by writing unique and original content that is readable and shareable by your audience.

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