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Updated on July 24, 2013
Duplicate Content
Duplicate Content

Duplicate Content

Duplicate Content Penalty – Discover duplicate content SEO and how to avoid the duplicate content penalty from Google. See case studies, definitions & videos.


Duplicate content refers to website content that is duplicated on another website or to content that is duplicated within a website.

The most serious problems for webmasters occur when content is duplicated on another URL.

Why ate my website?
Why ate my website?

Duplicate Content Penalty

Google Ate My Website

I had a new client contact me a few months ago who was livid that the homepage of his website had been de-indexed from the Google Search Engine. He challenged me to find out why.

I imagined that this would be a really time-consuming task applying Google SEO, but agreed to help identify the cause. Turns out, it only took about an hour.

I began by checking the backlinks to his homepage and what I discovered was one of the most unusual instances of duplicate content that I had ever seen! I found over a dozen sites with his identical homepage content – right down to the layout – and all of these sites were linking to his de-indexed homepage.

A little more investigation, looking into the ownership of all these websites, revealed that the same guy owned them all. That same guy was my client. In short, the guy was spamming his own website!

The duplicate content penalty was applied because his exact homepage was found all over the World Wide Web.

Duplicate Content on Multiple Sites

Duplicate Content on Many Websites
Duplicate Content on Many Websites

Content Marketing That Works

Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing
Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing
Go read the rave reviews on this new book about website content and click to look inside.

Duplicate Content and Affiliate Marketers

The photo shows screen shots of just three of my client's websites.

This scenario of cookie-cutter websites is found all over the affiliate marketing sphere. Novices will take the exact copy of an affiliate-solicitation page and throw it up on a website. Big mistake. New affiliate marketers learn the hard way that entirely new content must be written and that NOTHING from the product owner's webpage should be used.

The affiliate-marketer-wannabe soon learns what it takes to write 1,000 words of new content! And it can't be just any content – it has to be sales copy. That's going to cost at least $250 for quality work. If the copy doesn't persuade the website visitor to buy, there will be no income for the affiliate marketer.

In addition, new graphics and photos must be purchased and a new design for the page must be created. Affiliate marketers must make a greater, upfront investment than they needed in the past.

Creating unique product descriptions also applies to websites which feature products from,, and the like.

The first thing an SEO consultant needs to do is duplicate content SEO.

The Google Panda Algorithm
The Google Panda Algorithm

Duplicate Content SEO

Google Duplicate Content and Product Descriptions

E-commerce sites that contain multiple product listings are experiencing the same duplicate content issues. With Google algorithm changes rolled out in 2011 under the moniker Google Panda, many of the top name sites experienced a severe drop in search engine traffic.

Sites with tens of thousands of product descriptions have accrued massive expenses for content rewriting. But there is no other choice if they want search engine traffic from Google for free. At least content writing is a one-time expense as opposed to pay-for-click advertising costs.

Duplicate content SEO is nothing more than looking for duplicates the way Googlebot does.

Duplicate Content SEO Video

Google Duplicate Content Penalty

The take-away from the video above is, again, hire an expert. Don't use automatic software for translations to other languages.

Actually, Google does NOT refer to duplicate content issues as 'penalties.' See the full explanation from Google here.

Content Theft
Content Theft
Free Subscription to Website Magazine
Free Subscription to Website Magazine

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Check for Duplicate Content

Unfortunately, website content is vulnerable to content theft and anything that you post online is susceptible. Your plagiarized content can end up on multiple websites without your knowledge.

To its credit, on October 31, 2011, Google created a message feature for site owners in its Webmaster Tools. Google is now sending messages to webmasters if a duplicate content website is receiving priority in the search results.

Google employee Pierre Far advises webmasters:

"If you believe that another site is duplicating your content in violation of copyright law, you may contact the site's host to request removal. In addition, you can request that Google remove the infringing page from our search results by filing a request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act."

This announcement was the first time Google had offered to de-index a site upon a valid request. And it works! I personally file dozens of these DMCA Take Down requests every month.

If your plagiarized content is being displayed on a website that uses the Google AdSense program to display Google advertising, be sure to report the site to AdSense. Google will drop publishers from the AdSense program for uploading plagiarized content.

You can file your complaints using the Google online form.

Find out more about duplicate content SEO from a Google engineer in the video below.

Google and Duplicate Content Penalties

Content Writer Uniform

Duplicate Content Within a Site

Webpages that are duplicated within a site are minor infractions of Google's Webmasters Guidelines, but should be dealt with. Fortunately, the solutions are easy. Everything that you need to do and complete instructions are found on Google's own webpage. (I would post all of that content right here except that would be, well, duplicate content.)

I could try to paraphrase it or rewrite it in different words. Guess what, Google considers that to be duplicate content, too. And since I have no further insight to add or new/interesting idea, I'll take a pass.

That's just what Google is hoping I will do. Nixing duplicate content is part of the Google continual effort to present the best answers for search queries.

Read the official Google advice about duplicate content.

SEO Tutorial
SEO Tutorial

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The photo of 'Content Theft' is courtesy of Chan Pipat. Unless otherwise stated, all other images are via שועל ספר; used with permission.


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