Website owners may have heard all of the horror stories about ending up in the Google Sandbox or losing position on the Search Engine Results Page (or SERP) as a direct result of duplicate content online. While it may be understandable … or perhaps even preferential to have unique content on a private website, it is not by any means an absolute necessity … even if it is beneficial.
In order to understand this, it is important to look at certain idiosyncrasies with the Google Algorithms and also to look at some other existing sites that put this “theory” to the test.
If someone is going to go to the trouble to build a website, it is preferential to have website content that is unique to that site. When a baker builds their bakery, they want to have their own personal products in the store. When a painter or other artist creates a piece of artwork, it generally has their personal touch.
A website, especially any website that is going to be long-term and informational in nature … more commonly known as an “authority site”, should likewise contain information that is unique to the site.
However, there may arise times and occasions when there is a desire to include a guest post or other information from another site. How though, can it be known whether or not this will result in any loss in ranking on the SERP without any testing on a live site, potentially putting the entire website at risk?
Having content that is duplicated from another site, with the proper permission for publishing, will not in reality cause any major issues or loss of ranking with the search engines or on the SERP. How can this be demonstrated in any convincing fashion?
The mainstream media makes its living through what is commonly known as “Syndication”. Just as a television show is recorded once, and the same television show is broadcast nationally, so press articles are written and “broadcast” to all of the relevant newspapers with whom the author or the Press is contracted.
Thus, articles that appear on the Associated Press website, will also appear, verbatim on numerous websites around the globe.
The page ranking and SERP placement for the mainstream media websites are certainly not suffering any major penalty due to their having content onsite that is posted on tens, hundreds or even thousands of other websites. The same holds true for many television and radio stations and their websites, often hosting the same content, posted again, word for word across numerous websites.
None of these news websites are punished or reduced in ranking due to the posting of content that is on numerous different websites.
Perhaps the reader already has a reputable authority site and has worked very hard over the years to get their site exactly right and to provide their visitors with invaluable information … only to have someone come along and copy virtually everything off of the site completely, and maybe even copy the website itself.
Cases like these are not exceedingly rare, and often continue completely unbeknownst to the original website owner unless and until a customer or visitor makes the website owner aware of the situation. Even in these cases where the original website owner does discover such discrepancies, there is generally a tedious and nightmarish adventure awaiting them merely to get their own content removed from the website of someone else.
Google does not seem to care at all unless led by the hand and guided step by step with proof being required each and every step of the way. If there is any major complaint, it is generally that the website owner has to fight so diligently just to prevent their website content from being stolen … and there appears to be no punishment at all on the SERP placement or indeed, in the search engine algorithms for the copied website.
So where did this internet legend about the penalties of duplicate content arise? What gave them their birth?
There are numerous “Article Farms” and a host of other sites featuring cheap website content, often purchased from firesales or wholesale copy and paste markets. Some of this content is so poorly written as to make it nearly illegible, though such website content generally does raise red flags on the Google SE Algorithms, and will very likely result in penalties for the site.
However, the most common cause for duplicate content penalties is having a single website covered in different variations of the same articles or worse still, the same articles posted over and over with no variation.
If someone is going to go to all of the effort to build and promote an authority site, it is most likely a good idea to have all original content, geared specifically for the desired demographic. This should be relatively obvious to anyone who has ever successfully run a business.
However, if there is the occasional article or even guest poster who happens to post a single article that may or may not appear elsewhere on the internet, getting pinged for duplicate content should not be any real concern.