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DUPLICATE CONTENT PENALTY | DUPLICATE CONTENT SEO

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.

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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.

 
Letting Go of the Words, Second Edition: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies)
Letting Go of the Words, Second Edition: Writing Web Content that Works (Interactive Technologies)

New edition just published. Just click to look inside and read the stellar reviews.

 

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 Amazon.com, eBay.com, 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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Get your free subscription to Website Magazine

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

Related Content

For more information about success online, read these articles.

Read a systematic approach to SEO in this comprehensive, free tutorial:

SEO TUTORIAL & 2013 SEO BEGINNERS GUIDE

Google Panda
Google Panda

How to optimize your website for the Google Panda Algorithm:

GOOGLE PANDA SEO

Google Penguin
Google Penguin

Read about the Google Penguin algorithm and what to do if your site has been penalized:

GOOGLE PENGUIN SEO

Website Content Writer
Website Content Writer

Learn how to write content for your website with search engine optimized copy.

WEBSITE CONTENT WRITING

Press Headline
Press Headline

Learn how to optimize press releases for search engines.

SEO PRESS RELEASE HEADLINES


Map of the World Wide Web
Map of the World Wide Web

Read over 100 quotations about the World Wide Web, including quotes about SEO and quotes from the founders and employees of Google.com:

QUOTES ABOUT THE INTERNET

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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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    • imsef profile image

      Joseph 3 years ago from Makati

      Thanks very much for this post. It's really vital to have our post unique and at the same time, with quality. Sometimes, when a topic is overly discussed about, most people would inevitable rewrite a thought of other articles and this is not nice in terms of giving high quality content.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      I agree. If you don't have something earth-shattering to say about a saturated topic, you should take a pass.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I have a hub that is completely ripped off on a site that does not use AdWords, so Google can't threaten them with anything. I filed a complaint with Google, but nothing was done.

      There's no contact information on the page and the domain owner has blocked his contact info.

      The pirate site has a higher PageRank than my original site.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Post the URL here, using XXX so it is not clickable, and I'll try to help you with getting your content removed.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      What would you do?

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Review the site, find the host, locate advertisers, etc.

    • AmbitiousMarketer profile image

      Mark Johnson 3 years ago from England

      Many webmasters still want to duplicate content whether they want to because its quicker or because they don't realise its detrimental. The interesting thing is if all webmasters knew what's beneficial and what's detrimental and all webmasters would prefer to invest in the long-term, their wouldn't be much room at the top of the ladder of success.

      With the abundance of content we have on the internet, many of us are able to pick up tips and implement the best strategies which, as a result, causes intense competition.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Competition for search engine ranking is fierce, no doubt about it. But it's really hard to explain why there are more content scrapers than ever before because those methods just don't work any more for ranking content.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Duh. The scripts exist and there's almost no effort required to begin scraping. They have absolutely nothing to lose. Getting indexed by Google isn't the only reason to put up a site. You can still be an Adsense publisher even if you provide scraped content.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      You can have someone's AdSense account removed for plagiarizing content. All you have to do is report them.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

      I found that article by Google a week or so ago and was wondering since it was written in 2008 if it is still valid. Also, I just started a blog recently and am moving some articles over from HP and still am not sure about the best way to do this to avoid duplicate content AND article theft! Suggestions please. By the way, I love the way you write and wish I could do as well. No wonder you get so many views!

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Yes, the information in the Google article is still valid. When you move your content, be sure to remove the cache from Google and from Bing. Also it is always a good idea to change the Description Tag, since this was probably used by many sites to link to your old content on HP. Check current keyword traffic when you re-write the description. Good luck on your new blog!

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

      I don't use the description as seen in HP. There is only a brief one for the entire blog that is totally different. I do put in a de index with Google for the articles, but do not know how to do this for Bing or Yahoo. If you can tell me how, I'd appreciate it so much. Thanks. Also, happy holidays.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      To remove content from Bing, go here:

      http:// www.bing.com/webmaster/help/bing-content-removal-tool-cb6c294d

      Yahoo is powered by Bing, so this removes the cache for both. Thank you for the holiday wishes!

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

      Unfortunately, I have also had to file DMCA complaints. Google responded well. Thanks for yet another helpful hub! Voted up and useful.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      I think almost every good writer on HubPages has to file DMCA requests every month. The good thing is that we are able to have the plagiarized content removed. Thanks for your comment, Gail.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      This is a good tutorial for beginners. I definitely voted this up. New online writers don't automatically know that even reusing their own material is still duplicate copy.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Thanks for the vote, Ologsinquito. I agree that new online writers aren't aware of how Google views duplicate content and how it can affect them. Too bad so many have to learn the hard way!

    • Cre8tor profile image

      Daniel Robbins 3 years ago from Ohio

      I'm finding out swiftly just how useful this information is. I'd often blew off this kind of thing thinking "no one would want to copy me"...guess I was wrong. Thank you for contributing so much to my education. Thumbs high!

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Cre8tor: I'm glad this information helped. I'm sorry you've had trouble recently with plagiarists. They are the scourge of the Internet.

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 2 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

      I have learnt a lot of things here. Thanks for sharing. There are several questions in my mind, but I think it is not the proper place to chat.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Thank you for the feedback, Sanjay. Feel free to ask a question here.

    • hsschulte profile image

      hsschulte 2 years ago

      A good reminder to keep an eye on our content. I enjoyed the story about the client spamming his own website. :chuckle:

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Hi Hsschulte. That guy was unbelievable! He, of course, didn't see the humor.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      ...and of course I shared and voted up because this is so useful!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      So very interesting and informative. And now I finally know what DMCA stands for. Thank you for helping get to be better at being a webmaster.

    • Melinda Longoria profile image

      Melinda Longoria, MSM 2 years ago from Garland, Texas

      I'm always so glad to see Hubpage tutorials from fellow hubbers. We're a part of such a helpful writing community. Thank you for posting this resourceful article.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I have the same issue with My Naughty Grammarian series. I do a "bio" capsule in each and I write it differently each time. I'd love to save myself the trouble.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Hi Iris, I had to remove your other comment because of the link, but here is what it was without the link:

      "This is excellent information. Thank you! I read the Google explanation from the link you included, but it doesn't specifically address what I'm doing. I'd appreciate your input. I just started a recurring series of HP articles and I have a capsule that I was going to include in each one. It explains the goal of the series so that regardless of which article a new readers reads first, they'll understand the point. I've done two of these so far. There is a bit more duplicate copy in another small cell but I can easily fix those. The section that I was hoping to include in all of them is the What the Better Baking Series is All About. Is that a problem?"

      Yes, that's a big problem and will be considered duplicate content. That's too many words to put on several pages. What you can do, however, is put that text into an image and then use the image on each article.

      Thanks for your comment and vote.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Writer Fox, thanks so much for clarifying that for me, and I like your idea of putting the info into an image. I will fix that straight away! Thank you. Thank you!

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      @ Iris: I'm glad that idea helped.

      @ Catherine: Using an image for your bio information is a good solution for you, too, to avoid posting the same content on many Hubs. Thanks for commenting.

      @ Melinda: I'm so pleased to know that you found this information useful and I appreciate your taking the time to leave that comment.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 2 years ago from Planet Earth

      This is very timely, with everything we have going on here at this time. I know many people are working hard to learn how to avoid problems and improve content. Voted up & up, and sharing on HP!

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      if google wants to be the police then it has to be specific in its claim of duplication. Duplication like patents need to determine the date of the first occurrence of who copied from whom.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Hi Marcy: Good to see yo and thanks for the vote and the share!

      Hi Brad: It's not always easy for a search engine to know which is the original copy of a webpage. But, Google does a pretty good job of sorting it out.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 2 years ago from Ohio, USA

      It should be easy for the search engine to know which is the original copy. The date it was indexed by the search engine would be earlier for the original. If the original content is spun by automated software, then republished, we have problems.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Hi Nicomp: Search engines don't always index new content on the day it is uploaded. Spun content, as you say, is definitely a problem.

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