Duplicate Content Problems Only For The Weak




Over the past year there have been many discussions about duplicate content and how it can affect a website. Both on and off site duplication has been discussed in great detail on forums such as WebmasterWorld & SearchEngineWatch. Even MarketingPilgrim has covered duplicate content for blogs.

It’s to the point that some people are almost obsessed with the issue and swear there are penalties associated with it. Google has 52,600 results for “duplicate content penalty” and WebmasterWorld has 6,160 threads discussing the subject.

So what happens when one article is hosted on many different sites? All the articles rank well if you have trusted domains according to Google. It seems illogical based on all the discussions but here’s a recent example I ran across.

At the end of January an article titled “Will ‘unlocked’ cellphones free consumers?” was published on CNet, ZDnet India, ZDnet Asia, and USA Today. Within days, all four versions where ranking in the top 30 results for unlocked cell phones.

There seems to be a disconnect between sites that Google indexes and sites that Google considers authorities. If Google considers your site an authority it seems you can get away with almost anything short of blatant spam (i.e. BMW example). I personally believe duplicate off site content can decrease the overall quality score of most sites thus affecting the overall ranking of these sites unless of course you have the Google golden ticket.

How does one go about getting a golden ticket? You could always try and bribe Matt Cutts. Short of that you need massive amounts of links. This is where I believe social media marketing comes into play. While you still need link ninjas to rank for specific terms, you now need link pirates to go out there and plunder the social media landscape for thousands upon thousands of links.

  • http://www.wolf-howl.com graywolf

    it’s a particular problem with blogs which double and triple things everywhere. That’s why you need to spend some time working with the software limiting how much you display in snippets on the home page, category pages and the like. You can also use no-index, nofollow meta tags in conjuction with robots to try and sculpt and guide the robots path through the site

  • http://www.sitevisibility.co.uk/blog.html kelvin newman

    Yeah I think there’s a distinct difference between duplication on site and off site. And being an authority site helps regardless

  • Ankur

    Pirates > Ninjas

  • http://www.10e20.com Tamar Weinberg

    Nice post, Jeremy. I’m guessing that a few sites just will always be on a Google whitelist.

  • Gordon Magee

    Jeremy,

    Re. Duplicate content, one of the so-called “penalities” for duplicate content isn’t actually a penalty, though functionally it can come out that way. It has to do with how often a site is spidered.

    One SE did research on how often duplicated pages are changed. They found that after 10 weeks, the duplicate content hadn’t changed. So rather than waste indexing bandwith, they choose to spider one of the duplicate sites significantly less often.

    That explains why the multiple sites (noted in your article) with duplicate content could all rank high: the “penalty” for duplicate content often is simply being spidered less often. But if your page remains the most relevant in its vector scores for the query in question, you can remain ranked high indefinitely and without a so-called “penalty.”

    However, if you change your content, and you aren’t spidered at all for a time, because your URL is on the “duplicate” list, it can feel like a penalty because your new content isn’t getting picked up. But it isn’t getting picked up because of a penalty. It is simply a practical decision on the part of the SE’s to not use spidering time on duplicate content.

  • Gordon Magee

    Correction on this sentence:

    “But it isn’t getting picked up because of a penalty. It is simply a practical decision on the part of the SE’s to not use spidering time on duplicate content.”

    It should say:

    But it isn’t NOT getting picked up because of a penalty. It is simply a practical decision on the part of the SE’s to not use spidering time on duplicate content.

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