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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!