It seems like every day you read a different opinion on Duplicate Content. "Don't do it! Your site will get banned!" some people say. I would always get hammered with criticism when I would chime in and tell them that it's simply not true and that most people don't need to worry about duplicate content penalties. After all, if this was Google's policy, then I could just make a copy of my competitor's site and watch them get kicked out of Google.
Last week the Real Estate Institute of Queensland Australia contacted me asking permission to reprint one of my articles in their print and online magazine. Should I have said no fearing Google may send me in Search Engine "time out" (located on search results page 173)? No way! After all, not even Google could stop me from adding "Internationally Syndicated Columnist" to my resume! Yet I hear people all the time talking about how bad Article Syndication is. I've never understood why people would think Google looks down on articles that are good enough to be syndicated.
Straight From the Horse's Mouth
I take a very boring approach to SEO topics like this. I only recommend information that comes directly from the horse's mouth. So when Matt Cutts, one of Google's top web engineers was asked about Duplicate Content, my ears perked up! His reply was "Honest webmasters often worry about duplicate content when they don't need to"
It's Original! (If You Don't Include the other 132,999)
This is a great exercise. Open up Google and then copy and paste a snippet of home page text from almost any template website such as Advanced Access. Or you can just click this link for the search results. What you will find is 133,000 websites that contain the same content. What can we conclude from this?
- These real estate agents do not understand the important of differentiating themselves from other agents. (But that's another post for another day)
- Google still indexes pages that contain duplicate content
Copy and Paste is not the Answer
Please don't misinterpret this post. I am not saying that you should simply copy articles instead of writing original content. That's not the point at all. In fact, duplicate content just for the sake of duplicating content provides no value to search engines or to web visitors.
Nothing Beats The Original
Here is another practical example. I copy and pasted into Google a sentence from one of my articles on my website. Click here for the results. You will notice that that the exact same article shows up 3 times in Google's search results. (Google is suppressing the last result because it's similar to what's already displayed). Here is a breakdown of the results in the order they appear
- The first result links to my website where the original article appeared
- The second result shows another company that has flat out stolen my article. (Does anyone know a good lawyer?)
- The third result is from a debunk website that we never did finish (wow I really need to remove that site!)
Looking at the order of the results, it looks like Google nailed it. First place goes to the original source. Second place goes to a company so lazy that they have to steal my articles. And third place to a broken website that shouldn't be online.
Kiss My Ranking Goodbye!
If you still insist that Google penalizes sites for duplicate content, then I am about to commit SEO suicide. I will be posting this exact same article to my other blog. If you think I am crazy, it gets worse. In addition to duplicating the content, I am going to tell Google all about it. Here goes…
I personally think this is exactly the way Google would prefer it. I simply syndicated the blog post and disclosed the original location. To me, it would be worse to tried to "game the system" by swapping paragraphs, rewriting portions of the content, and altering the title to make search engines think it's an original document.
A few Disclaimers:
As I stated above, fresh and original content is still king! I do not recommend duplicating your blog post. The only reason why I am duplicating this post is to prove a point. As you have seen from the above example, Google is a very smart search engine and will credit to the original source.
Google still penalizes sites that blatantly duplicates (or mirrors) sites and content with the sole intention of exploiting the search engines. This and other "black hat" practices should NEVER be used to gain rankings.
Some of you may notice that this post has been classified as "Members Only". I am only doing this until Google "crawls" the original blog post. I want to ensure Google knows about the original document first before the search engine sees the duplicated version.
I look forward to your comments.