What Is the Duplicate Content Penalty? – To Fear or Not To Fear?
For any website owner duplicate content can potentially be a big problem, but is this something you should be worrying about? Should this be keeping you up at night?
And what is the repercussion of such? Is there a duplicate content penalty that you have to stress about?
The truth is that there is no “duplicate content penalty”, per se, but there is a downside to this type of content and there are definitely reasons why you might want to avoid it. But before we get into all that, let’s first discuss what exactly this is in the fist place…
What Is Duplicate Content?
Dupe content is pretty simple… It is content that has been duplicated, specifically on the Internet. This means that it has been published in one or more places online and Google is able to see this.
Take note that it must be published in one or more places “online”. If you were to take the exact words out of an old encyclopedia and publish them online, you could do so without it being considered “duplicate content” in the way we are talking about it. But of course I wouldn’t suggest it because that would be plagiarism.
Another important aspect of this term is that the content does not have to be the exact same. It only has to be “appreciably similar” according to Google. So if Google sees two pieces of content that are appreciably similar, it is going to see the one piece as being the original and the other as being a duplicate.
Dupe Content on Your Domain vs Other Domains
If you have duplicate content on your own domain, meaning multiple pages on the same website that is yours which have fairly large amounts of appreciably similar content, this is not a big deal.
And… It happens all the time. For example if you run an e-commerce website that sells a lot of similar products in the same niche, then there’s a good chance much of the content provided is going to be a very similar. And there are plenty of other examples I could give for when dupe content is common as well.
But this isn’t too big of a deal. And if you are a website owner who, let’s say has a bunch of similar sales pages, you can always set the similar pages to NOINDEX and NOFOLLOW to tell the Google bot to not even bother looking at them or indexing them.
It’s not going to help SEO but it isn’t going to hurt it either, as I’ll get into in a bit.
Then there’s the problem of dupe content on other domains. Maybe someone else copies your content or maybe you copy someone else’s content, or at least copy it “too much” to make it appreciably similar.
Can either of these circumstances have a negative effect on your website?
They definitely can and we will get to that in a second too.
Blogging In Constant Fear…. One Little Mistake Could PUNISH You
I myself, I’m a blogger. I also have some experience with e-commerce, but mainly I focus on blogging and SEO. And when it comes to SEO this is where knowing about dupe content is most important. I make most of my money via affiliate marketing and bring in traffic via SEO.
I know a lot of bloggers that start out and really fear duplicate content, specifically they fear that their website is going to be punished for content being considered too similar to other websites. They feel that they really aren’t providing any original content because most of the information they are getting comes from research on other websites.
If you are one of these people, I would like to tell you to FEAR NOT.
You can write articles completely based on information found on other articles online, not knowing anything about the topic beforehand, and still rank well without your content being considered dupe content.
Just be smart about it… When doing research only jot down the important information and do not copy and paste large amounts because obviously you want to re-word as much as possible. Sure you can copy and paste a word here or there, or maybe some phrases, but certainly limit doing this.
Dupe Content ‘Can’ Be a MASSIVE Problem, But It’s Not Something to Fear
So let’s get into the impact that this can actually have on your website and why you should NOT fear it, assuming that you are being smart about it and not trying to cheat the system.
Dupe content isn’t actually going to hurt the SEO of your website as you may think. You just won’t be able to rank for the content that is considered dupe content.
If you copy and paste an article from someone else and publish it on your website, is simply is not going to rank because Google is going to see that it is a duplicate and not the original. Similarly, if someone copies and publishes an article from your website, same thing is going to happen and you don’t have to worry about it (most of the time anyhow!, more on this).
It Isn’t Going to Hurt Your Rankings Site-Wide
I know one of the big fears is that it is going to hurt your rankings site-wide, but this is not true. There is no evidence that duplicating some content is going to destroy your site’s overall rankings. The dupe content certainly isn’t going to help you get ranked, but it also isn’t really going to hurt it, other than the fact that you could have spent your time better putting out original content that could have ranked.
No one can avoid duplicate content completely and that is why Google doesn’t really punish websites for it. They know it is inevitable.
This Is Why Some Blogs/News Sites Re-publish Popular Content
There are plenty of big-name blog/news sites out there that re-publish popular content from other sites. They know darn well that it isn’t going to rank but they also know that it isn’t going to hurt.
What If Someone Dupes Your Content & Wins??!!
You may have heard some horror stories about another site copying content and actually beating the original site in the Google rankings.
The crazy thing is that this does indeed happen at times. There are some sites that scrape content and re-publish it as 100% copied, yet they outrank the original.
That said, this is definitely not something to worry about because it is very rare.
But it does happen at times and if it were to happen to you, you need to know what to do. You used to be able to file a “scraper report” with Google, but they do not have this anymore. Now what you’re going to want to do is file a copyright infringement report.
If you do this you should have no problem. Google will be able to see which content was published first and which is the original. Then you will get the rightful ranking that you deserve.
Original Content Is What Gets Ranked
Google is smart and Google wants to provide the best user experience possible.
Could you imagine if they actually punished websites for duplicate content? It would be a catastrophe if they did this and they would be all sorts of really great websites losing good rankings that are helpful to users.
Why would they punish an entire website for one piece of duplicate content? This makes no sense.
There is no punishment… Duplicate content simply does not help you get ranked.
It is original content that gets ranked.
Now let’s say you have an article that is about half duplicate content and half original content. That is fine… It is simply the original content that gets ranked and the duplicate content has no effect, positive or negative when it comes to SEO.
Conclusion: Not So Bad After All
If you are smart and are trying to provide good content, you should have nothing to worry about.
Just don’t try to take advantage of the system and think that you can go around copying and pasting to get good rankings… It is simply going to be a waste of your time.
I hope you found this article helpful and I hope it helps you sleep a little better at night knowing that you probably don’t have anything to worry about.
Looking to start a blog or turn your blog into a powerhouse that makes you money? Check out this program. This is where I got started and where I learned everything I know, which I know make a living off of working online for myself.