How Does Duplicate Content Affect Websites

February 21, 2017 |   4 minute read


How Does Duplicate Content Affect Websites

Duplicate Content is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) term that refers to similar or identical content appearing in more than one place (URL) on the internet.
This can range in nature from the debatable practices of filling a site up with cheap or free content just for the sake of filling it up – with no attempt to give the content any value – to the common and approved practice of re-posting articles from other blogs, curating “best of” lists from around the internet, and quoting articles found on other sites. In between those ranges is sheer human laziness: for example, re-posting a hotel site’s description on a tourist site without adding a review or opinion.

We wrote this article so that our economic developer and tourism clients, who may want to showcase content written by or about their local businesses, could post content in a way that will not be  penalized.

Many bloggers, as well as Google itself, provide information and instructions on how to deal with it, much of it very technical information aimed at webmasters. Here is the specific information that content writers in your economic development and tourism department should know about duplicate content.

Pay Attention To Your Website Setup & Content Even If There’s No Penalty For Duplicate Content

The good news? Google won’t penalize those websites that contain the exact same text as another. But it’s important you understand why so you don’t misuse it and so you know what to put in an RFP for hiring a best-fit web developer. At a minimum, be aware that your developer should follow best SEO website building practices.
Most internet users don’t practice the deliberate, malicious kind of duplicate content (manipulating search engine results). Google recognizes that content marketers can’t avoid creating the non-malicious kind. For instance:

  • A tourism website inevitably uses text from the websites of tour operators.
  • A blog writer wants to quote the exact words of an expert, which they found on another website.

How Does Google Treat Your Site Rank When It Contains Some Exact Text?

The only time this kind of duplicate content becomes a problem is if Google suspects it is “thin” or “spun” content. Thin content happens when content is duplicated with little or no added value. “Spun content” is similar in nature: any content that has been rephrased to try to make it look unique. But Google wants the best possible experience for users, and so their search engine crawlers find and alert them of such sites.
Among conscientious bloggers and content marketers, syndication is a common and approved practice...but duplicate content issues are easily dealt with by taking some technical steps with your website and by ensuring your site has good content. The instruction from Google is to make sure that most of the material on your website is original and valuable. Google encourages site owners to write their own material whenever they can, calling on their own expertise to bring something new and authoritative to a discussion. Google also recommends having new things to say about syndicated material – in other words, to stand out from the rest and create a site that readers really enjoy.
Of course, nobody has to tell good content marketers twice that human expertise and creativity are the answer. Google recognizes what content marketers know anyway: good, original content is the key to drawing audiences in and building a relationship with clients.

Want to find out more about how to attract and keep clients?

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Here are some informative articles by Google on the subject of quality content on websites: