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The Final Word on Duplicate Content

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Not a month goes by that someone does not ask me about duplicate content and its affect on your rankings in Google, and your social media planning. At lunch a few weeks ago a colleague complained that he is also constantly asked the same question. I thought I’d put together a collection of posts from Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Web Spam team, and the Google blog on what Google really things about duplicate content, and how they handle it.

Summary:

  1. There’s no such thing as a “duplicate content penalty”.
  2. White hat sites have little to worry about, Google is pretty smart.
  3. If you repeat a lot of content on your own site, you “may not” get crawled as much, but no penalty.
  4. If you syndicate your content to other places like blogs, other sites etc, just be sure to point back to the original post.
  5. If other people are copying your content you probably don’t have to worry, determining the original source of the content is something Google is good at.
  6. For e-Commerce sites, reduce your duplicate content using site architecture.
  7. For mobile sites set up a separate sub-domain to handle the content, then submit it to Google’s Google-bot mobile.

You can see the references below that I’m drawing these 6 points from, along with links to the source.

Conclusion: Don’t let fear of duplicate content affect content or social media strategy

There is no reason most companies should worry about duplicate content. In fact it is recommended that you put your content where the users are who would consume it. Counting on just the folks who show up on your site, is leaving too many potential readers/customers on the table. So create quality content and put together your content & social media plans today with confidence that by following some simple guidelines, duplicate content is not an issue.

Read references below

General info from Matt Cutts on duplicate content

…typically a whitehat site doesn’t neet to worry about 1-3 versions of an article on their own site. My advice would be 1) to avoid over-syndicating the articles that you write, and 2) if you do syndicate content, make sure that you include a link to the original content. That will help ensure that the original content has more PageRank, which will aid in picking the best documents in our index.

Source: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/duplicate-content-question/ From 2008

…In other words, duplicate content on the same URL can result in Google not crawling as many pages from your site. According to Matt, you have a certain “crawl budget” – and allotment of pages they are willing to crawl within your domain.  Having the same content on multiple pages of your website means Google will likely crawl less pages of your site. From 2010

From the Google Bog

Let’s put this to bed once and for all, folks: There’s no such thing as a “duplicate content penalty.” At least, not in the way most people mean when they say that.

There are some penalties that are related to the idea of having the same content as another site—for example, if you’re scraping content from other sites and republishing it, or if you republish content without adding any additional value. These tactics are clearly outlined (and discouraged) in our Webmaster Guidelines: From 2008

What about when someone else copies my content?

Are you worried about a duplicate content penalty because someone else copied your content? Here is what Google has to say about duplicate content caused by your content being on someone else’s site.

We realize that this is not the fault of the affected webmaster, which in turn means that identical content showing up on several sites in itself is not inherently regarded as a violation of our webmaster guidelines. This simply leads to further processes with the intent of determining the original source of the content—something Google is quite good at, as in most cases the original content can be correctly identified, resulting in no negative effects for the site that originated the content. You can of course confront sites that steal your content you can use a DMCA notice

Source: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/06/duplicate-content-due-to-scrapers.html

On eCommerce sites with duplicate content

Matt says the canonical tag is one answer.  “There are a couple of things to remember here. If you can reduce your duplicate content using site architecture, that’s preferable. The pages you combine don’t have to be complete duplicates, but they really should be conceptual duplicates of the same product, or things that are closely related. People can now do cross-domain rel=canonical, which we announced last December.”

Source: http://www.marketingwords.com/blog/?p=769

What do I do about my mobile site being duplicate content? (From 2011)

There is a great discussion and video on this site that talks about how to keep your mobile site from showing up as duplicate content. Basically the idea is to put your mobile site under a separate subdomain like m.mysite.com. You would then submit this site to googlebot-mobile by creating a Mobile Sitemap.

Source: http://followmattcutts.com/2011/01/18/your-mobile-site-does-not-have-to-be-duplicate-content/

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