Will Google penalise you for duplicating content?
I was asked this question in my private members group earlier this week, and as a business marketing online, this is a very important topic that I knew I wanted to write about.
A study conducted by Orbit Media Studios suggested that a blog post will take anywhere from one hour to more than six hours to complete. For me, a blog will take around 2 hours from start to publish.
Knowing this tells me that this is a huge investment of time and this does not stop here. I then take this piece of content and share it across my social networks, as well as post it on various other sites including LinkedIn Pulse, Business2Community and Medium.
What is duplicate content?
Duplicated content can be defined as “exact text that has been copied from one page, and pasted to a different page with no changes made”.
The biggest problem around doing this is whether Google will penalise me for duplicating content. With the constant changes in Google’s algorithm, the answer to this question changes based on how Google works.
I reached out to a friend, and an industry expert called Alasdair Inglis. Alasdair is Managing Director of We Are Grow who focus on transforming marketing strategies, and turning them into a profitable plan for a business marketing online. Part of Alasdair’s expertise includes SEO, which is why I reached out to him. An interview was conducted around this topic and I have documented this below.
What are you thoughts around duplicating content?
This is a very complex subject, and technical advice would suggest to not duplicate content, but here is what Google say.
“If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer. ”
Duplicating content in its entirety will end up in a fight to rank which is why posting the exact same piece of content on another website so close to it being published on your website will result in a ranking war, where you may find your website traffic decrease because of this.
Would you say it’s a “no-no” to use the same content on your web pages as you would elsewhere?
In this case, definitely do not duplicate this kind of content. If you are selling a product or service online and have spent the time and effort to rank for keywords around this product or service, duplicating this content will work against you.
Will Google penalise you for duplicating content across the likes of Medium & LinkedIn Pulse?
Technically, yes; however it’s a bit more complicated. By syndicating your content particularly on the likes of LinkedIn Pulse and Medium you are indeed reaching a whole new community of potential customers, but you do need to be aware that because LinkedIn Pulse and Medium are heavy-weight sites, they will likely outrank you, meaning the traffic to your website drops because it is being directed to the post on LinkedIn Pulse and Medium. You do, however, get traffic you would not have gotten from the likes of LinkedIn Pulse and Medium so it is a trade-off.
How would you suggest approaching guest-blogging?
Guest-blogging is a key part of your strategy online, especially when it comes to link building.
You will notice that 90% of guest-blogging websites will ask for exclusive content, and one of the main reasons why they ask for this is so that they don’t have to compete with you over traffic. Basically, they don’t want to be out-ranked and in essence; neither do you.
If there is a penalty, what does this look like for a business?
The real penalty isn’t that Google will rank you lower, its actually that the traffic will be re-directed to the re-purposed piece of content if the website that it sits on is considered more influential than your website.
This is the problem with Google. If you blog enough on your site you will see a rise in traffic and links. You do want to preserve some of that for your own website. The analogy of “don’t run away with someone on the first date” applies here.
What would your suggestion be around avoiding a penalty?
My suggestion would be to actually avoid re-purposing all of your content. Whilst I will say don’t put all your eggs in one basket, you do need to be prepared for a drop of traffic when you do duplicate your content.
Are you able to give my readers a “best practice” for duplicating content?
My advice on a best practice for duplicating content is to stick to the 50/50 rule. If you are going to duplicate your content on the likes of LinkedIn Pulse and Medium, add to the bottom of the article a link back to the original post on your website.
My top four tips would be:
1. Always post the article on your own site first
You want to eliminate the potential of having to compete for traffic, so make sure the article you are thinking of duplicating actually sits on your website first
2. Consider only re-publishing 50% of your content
I say this because the importance of getting website traffic that converts is more important than maybe getting 10-50 views on the post elsewhere. Keep some of your content exclusive to your website, and only duplicate 50% of your blog content.
3. Wait one month until you syndicate
IF you are going to re-publish content elsewhere, give Google time to rank the post on your website before you share it on another website.
4. Keep an eye on your website traffic
Whilst I am saying to re-purpose only 50% of your content, analyse this on a regular basis to see whether you are having a large drop in website traffic, as this may be the reason why. Google, being the wonderful beast that it is, is constantly changing the way it’s ranking algorithm works and you will always want to be on top of this.
This was a great interview with Alasdair, and I hope that his insight into “will Google penalise you for duplicating content” gives you the answer you are looking for; I know it has for me.