Viewed as spam by the search engines, duplicate content is defined as content that already exists on another webpage. This content must be considered in “substantive blocks” or be “appreciably similar” according to Adam Lasnik of Google. This content is either extracted from another source or webpage or replicated in an effort to increase the chances of getting listed or to help get multiple listings within a search engine’s index. To guard against duplicate content, the search engines have implemented a filter which prevents sites with this offense from being ranked well. If you have fallen prey to duplicate content, your site will be flagged. Google, in particular, will filter out all but the “oldest” page and it may also affect your Google Page Rank.
If you have legitimate reasons for utilizing what would be considered duplicate content, such as “print friendly” pages or pdf’s, simply use an exclusion tag to avoid becoming the victim of the filter. Although Google claims they do not flag for printable versions, you may want to use the no robots tag just to be sure. Regardless, they will choose only one version of the page to list, eliminating the possibility of multiple listings. You will not be flagged for foreign language versions and the utilization of quotes will also not trigger the flag.
If you are redeveloping your website, use these tips to make sure you are not crossing any duplicate content lines:
• Make sure that any old pages are properly 301 redirected to the new page. Especially make sure to redirect if you are using the content from one of your old pages.
• Utilize robots.txt files to block the search engines from spidering any pages that you don’t want them to.
Keep it simple! Duplicate content can be complex if we make it complex … if we’re sharing articles, sharing or buying content, or using database driven content, rules apply.
Despite the good intentions of most website owners, there are some that will not hesitate in borrowing your personal content.
How can you protect yourself from content thieves?
Be your own content police. Occasionally monitor your own text to see if it has been duplicated. To do this, copy a few sentences of your content and paste it into the search function in Google. It will be easy to see the results if someone has “borrowed” your words. Also, check out http://www.copyscape.com – a website plagiarism site
Be aware of your surroundings. Recently, a client of mine discovered that someone had stolen his content and submitted it to an online article site. He discovered this because this very article was holding a top position for one of his keyword phrases. He clicked on the link and saw his own content staring back at him … with somebody else taking credit for it. To remedy this situation, we contacted the article editor and proved to him that this content had been stolen from our client and within a week or so, the article had been removed.
Don’t fret too much about content thieves – they are only hurting themselves. But if you are a victim, you can report the offender to Google.
Remember, there are no shortcuts when it comes to optimization and writing for the search engines. Take the time to be unique and it will benefit you in the long run.
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