Are There Consequences For Duplicate Content?

on duplicate content

On Duplicate Content

We get the question, “may I duplicate content I believe will be valuable to my audience?” quite often. Our answer is always the same: duplicating someones content is never a good practice. Plagiarism can, in some cases, involve liability for copyright infringement. And while Google isn’t interested in policing it, in certain circumstances plagiarism will get a website tossed from the search indexes.

There is a safe practice for copying someone else: If the content is truly valuable to an audience then excerpt & block quote the piece, then credit the author with a live link to her page or post.  

 

How Google Defines Duplicate Content 

To be specific, let’s go to the source / Google for their definition: “… substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.” They also say, “Most of the time when we see this, it’s unintentional or at least not malicious in origin… In some cases, content is duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or garner more traffic via popular or long-tail queries.”

They go on to add you should not concern yourself with occasional snippets or quotes being identified as duplicate content, but in the event you are removed from the search results you must then review webmaster guidelines in order to define then deal with the situation. Once you’ve corrected the problem based upon those guidelines, and the site is in order, you can submit for reconsideration.  


Google Duplicate Content Practices

Apparently, during spider crawling and then the serving up of search results, Google trusts their algorithms to rank similar pages correctly. The say, “When filters identify an intent to manipulate rankings or to deceive searchers, the appropriate ranking adjustments are made.” *And Google readily admits they’d rather rely on their automated- filters than on making manual rank adjustments. Because they don’t define a threshold for “adjustments” good logic might place the range of adjustment anywhere between a lesser rank to removal. Your logic is as good as ours, but no one’s time, effort, money and / or future business is worth the risk that comes with duplicating content irresponsibly. Simply put, just don’t!

According to SEOMoz.org’s Eric Enge in his post ‘When Duplicate content really hurts’,

“Conventional wisdom among experienced SEOs is that there is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty. There are exceptions to this rule. Search engines implement a filter… there is apparently a duplicate content threshold where Google’s filter will identify and actually penalize a site.” He says, “I write this based upon a combination of hearsay and also some experience we’ve had we could only speculate about.” Enge also warns that Search Engine spiders only visit with so much crawl bandwidth or what he refers to as budget. If you waste those crawls on content that won’t be indexed successfully, you are sacrificing other useful content that could have been indexed.

In a similar instance we saw a business copy all the lead stories from their local newspaper, despite our warnings against such practices. One day they disappeared from the search engine results pages [SERPs] eliminating any potential visibility. And let’s face it, consumers are researching your service for it’s value & accountability. The risk of their disapproval should be a concern.

Duplicate Content Summarized

Regardless of what one can and cannot get away with, demonstrating a trustworthy, knowledgeable presence on the web is what appeals to most people. If the search engines don’t penalize you for cheating, the humans most certainly will!

How Can A Business Deal With A Negative Review?

Reviews Are Not In A Business Owners’ Control

 

Good Reviews are some of the best advertising; however, web- based reviews and even a negative review are NOT IN a business owner’s control! Reviews posted to random search or directory listing websites is a modern day reality. It is content that consumers seek out when they wish to know how other people’s experience has been.

And yes the chance of a negative review scares and frustrates business owners, but there is ALSO BIG opportunity here! A simple plan for ‘reputation management’ that not only pursues good reviews but both protects against and also deals with negative reviews (see the tips below) MUST become ‘standard operating business practice’. Serious marketers NEED a proactive approach to identify, contact and follow through with happy customers for a review. Be thorough: show them (step by step) how to give that review! If so, those annoying listings & citations will become a HUGE competitive advantage even when that negative review occurs! Caution: we said ‘management’ because attempting to automate or simply game reviews is NOT going to fool anyone, certainly not Google’s algorithms.

 


In fact it is crucial to get proactive about asking happy clients & customers for reviews NOT ONLY because

1) a good review is some of the best advertising a business can ever have or 
2) 9 of 10 people won’t get around to giving one unless they are asked, BUT because
3) lots of good reviews will serve as the hedge a business needs for if that bad review ever comes! 

Important: Google Map or Search Listings are where reviews are the most visible, so be certain there is a fully verified and optimized set of Google My Business listings in place! Sure JudysBook, HomeAdvisor and the like run television advertising and maybe someone somewhere mentioned they use FindLaw, but given a choice for where a person’s one review will be most visible … there simply is no comparison to Google listings. 10- maybe even 25X more visible, it is not even close! 

 

How To Deal With A Bad Review

1. Go Direct!:

Respond privately to the individual before responding publicly, if possible. Apologize and acknowledge a mistake or a misunderstanding. Maybe, there’s an opportunity to make up for it in exchange for taking the negative review down or, better yet, for an updated good review. Online reviews are not set in stone, they can always be updated by the reviewer.

2. A BUSINESS MUST PRESENT A POSITIVE POSITION:

  • Never react, never make excuses in a public response
  • Prepare a response to amicably resolve the situation, but always have others review it before going live
  • Identify yourself as the business owner, explain customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance and that given a chance to speak directly you are certain you can resolve the situation
  • Restate the issue because that person is likely annoyed, they want to know they were heard
  • Do not motivate or engage in a back and forth battle online for the entire world to see. Arguments or trying to explain how events didn’t occur in the fashion reviewed is not going to help! CONSUMERS reading it will lean toward other consumers when they see this. We must understand WE are speaking to the public and the prospective consumer too!
  • Acknowledge a mistake — even if you’re not sure you have made one — apologize and (again) offer to proactively fix the situation.
  • If an agreement can be reached the person will often take the review down, but if not you have still demonstrated goodwill and the way you conduct business for everyone to see!

3. Management Of Consumer Expectations:

Let’s do our very best NEVER to be caught off guard! How? We need to be thorough communicators from the very start. This obvious tip is prevention: a company should carefully manage expectations about what is and what is not being sold. Leave nothing to chance! Some might call it making sure buyers are not set up for confusion or the disappointment that can motivate a bad review in the first place. And folks, drop the ego – we all want support when we buy services and those prospective buyers are no different – so be sure to give them the best you’ve got!

4. Directory Review Policies:

Getting a review removed depends on the listing cos. documented policies and whether or not you can prove they were violated, but its’ worth a careful look. Yelp, for instance, doesn’t support reviews from a competitor. No directory will support false user accounts, so be sure the individual is legitimate or you may be able to have it taken down. And there is usually a way to FLAG a false review in your account dashboard calling the directory out to review it with your reasons for why it should be taken down. 

 

 

About Bad Reviews

The negative side of this coin is you CANNOT control all the listings out there witHazardous Negative Reviews And How To Deal With Themh your company’s information, nor the chance anyone will post a review. If the possibility of getting a negative review makes you hesitant, remember that sooner or later almost every business will get one. There are those rare individuals out there who may NOT be fair. Maybe it’s a less than honest ‘reputation management’ firm using nefarious tactics to scare up new business for its client at the expense of competition. No matter, it’s why all business owners must have a proactive plan ready. Getting reviews MUST be seen as standard business practice!

And by the way, having nothing but glowing comments can make some readers wonder about whether or not your reviews are even legitimate. Your plan for managing that bad review will speak volumes with potential customers (including the unhappy customer) and can have a far greater effect than the bad review itself. We all know some people are impossible to please and consumers get that too. Google listings and other review sites certainly allow you to respond publicly to a negative review so that consumers can see you take customer satisfaction seriously.

Google Does Not Cold Call!

On Google Cold CallsHow many times has “Google” cold- called YOU about your business failing in their index?

If so, we are 99.99% sure that you were NOT talking to a Google representative. Think about that: Google creates a fair / honest World Wide Web index of content is their commitment … and then they cold call you to advise on how to jump over all the competition??

NOPE, you were called by less- than- honest people who hope to trick you into hiring them. Unrequested calls from Google simply DO NOT HAPPEN and anyone claiming otherwise is misrepresenting themselves to you.

Google is notoriously reticent about calling a business and when they do, albeit rare, it’s because YOU have scheduled a call to discuss how to use or fix a Google My Business tool. To be specific, when Google does communicate by phone is automated voice or text to provide PINs for account setup, login 2-step verification and/or Google listing verification, etc.

DO NOT BE CONFUSED, Google does NOT cold call and so those calls are NOT from Google!

What Does the ‘Google Crawl’ Mean to a Business?

What is the ‘Google Crawl’?

Spiders, Crawling and Web Pages

For starters, it may help to define what a ‘Google crawl’ is and what Google spiders do. To find and Understanding The Google Crawl | Kinetic Knowledgeorganize information on the World Wide Web, a search engine deploys software often referred to as a spider (or a crawler or a bot). By using these spiders to crawl web pages search engines are able to identify information and keywords. They then consume it all into organized indexes where it is compared and ranked for the most accurate search engine result pages (SERPs) possible. NOTE: we did not mention websites so much as we have ‘web pages’ here. Google applies rank to web pages, NOT just to a website or a website’s home page and that’s important to understand because Google wants to index & compare all web pages. It’s why we MUST prioritize pages, posts and useful content creation, including with an emphasis for the keywords a prospective buyer would search!

Rebuilding The Google Index – The Business Opportunity!

According to Google their spiders crawl the web regularly in order to rebuild their index of web pages and keywords. NOTE: Google says it wants to constantly rebuild their index, meaning that it is always looking for the most timely information and knowledge it can find! This is important because many business owners think they can set up a website and be done with it. Wrong! Search engines demand much more of the content they recommend in search engine result pages (SERPs)! And because search engines are constantly rebuilding, then you want to share the most current information and knowledge in order to remain relevant in their SERPs (search engine result pages). Is mobile- friendliness important? Yes! Do inbound links matter? Some! Does social activity matter? To the degree it drives traffic to a website page! Is Google looking at how often a page is visited and how long those users stay on the page? Yes, and reportedly more and more because it is incrementally better evidence for how valuable the page’s content is to its’ visitor!

In a competitive world for traffic and leads, search engine relevance is NO static exercise! Freshness matters and being timely with relevant content is certainly a competitive signal. Blogging ‘what’s new‘, for instance, often motivates a search engine to crawl the website more often than, for instance, a site that never adds any new content. NOTE: the more often a website is crawled, the more pages, posts and keywords it will see consumed into the search engine indexes.

Deep Spider Crawls and Fresh Spider Crawls 

The search indexes are in constant motion (in fact, they are kinetic) and Google crawls the web at varying depths and on several different schedules. Some are believed to be ‘deep crawls’ and others ‘fresh crawls’. It is believed that there are comprehensive crawls (= the deep crawls), which occur on a per month basis. And then there are intermediate or random crawls (= fresh crawls), which occur more often, but don’t go as deep or index as much. Some folks refer to the constant motion of the indexes as ‘the Google Dance’, but the fact is new information is ALWAYS being indexed. Website owners can raise the chance of being crawled deeper and more often, by adding new content frequently. In other words, blog and update or add new useful content!

Google’s spider is capable of comparing previous per page crawls to the current visit at light speed. If it identifies new content often it will schedule more frequent visits. Think of it like a web presence is being judged on each visit. Why? Because it’s highly inefficient and expensive for Google to crawl a site over and over when nothing changes. NOTE: there is only so much crawl bandwidth and search engines only succeed when they satisfy their search traffic. In order to satisfy searchers they must provide the best user experience possible, which includes the most timely and accurate information possible. NOTE: due to the ‘Google Dance’ and the constant re -evaluation of website pages, there is never a guarantee a page will remain indexed in the same position from one day to the next… and that means your pages will move up or down!

Motivate Google To Help Your Business: Update Your Pages & Blog!

In all, a website and its’ pages will be re- evaluated over and over. Like anything else in life worth having, rank and position is earned. So a website needs to be current, consistent and on- topic! And while certain things can help (i.e. page submissions into Google Search Console), focus the most on great new content that people will appreciate and share! Why? Because Google is looking for the best new content. SO help Google help you, write often and well  🙂

 

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