What is duplicate content?
In the words of Google, “Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”
How widespread is duplicated content?
On-site duplication is common, especially in some WordPress blogs, called ‘splogs’, which ‘scrape’ content from other sites and re-publish it without permission or credit.
Why should you avoid it?
There are two main reasons why it’s best to avoid putting duplicated content on your website; stuff you’ve nicked, copied and pasted from somewhere else.
- You’re a human looking for information online. The last thing you want is pages of identical search results, all of which contain the same content. You want to see different points of view, alternative angles, levels of detail, approaches, reviews, opinions, findings and research.
- You’re a search engine. It’s your job to present the best possible search experience to people. You don’t appreciate duplicate content because it makes your life difficult; how do you deliver great search results when everyone’s saying the same thing? And how can you remain fair when so many site owners are trying to manipulate the search results?
There’s more. Copying someone else’s content is lazy website content writing; sub-standard marketing. It hints that you don’t really care about your audience, that they don’t deserve the best. And it’s sometimes illegal.
Google says, “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action unless… the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.” While they don’t have a specific penalty for duplicate content per se it can, in their words, “still hurt your website rankings” simply because it’s ‘spammy, which they do penalise.
What’s being done about it?
Google and other search engines are doing their best to configure their algorithms to identify and devalue spammy duplicated content in the search results. If the system works the way it should, it’ll become more and more difficult to get away with using duplicating content to manipulate the search results.
How do you know if someone has stolen your content?
What can you do if someone copies your content?
If you discover your content has been published illegally somewhere else without your permission or without crediting you as its creator, you can send a polite email to the site owner first.
If they don’t respond, you can send a DMCA notice – a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice. When the host or advertising partner (for example Google AdWords) gets a valid DMCA notification, they will take the offending content down.
Here’s a link to Google’s DMCA Policy.
Get a freelance copywriter on the case
Good web copywriting involves creating information that’s unique, not copied. Web copy that sells takes into account search engine and human needs, the best of both worlds. Find someone who’s familiar with SEO copywriting best practices, with the imagination and knowledge needed to do a proper job.
(Cartoon by Kate)