Even today, there is still a great deal of confusion about what some people tend to refer to as the Duplicate Content penalty. The reason is quite simply that most people still read old content and misleading rumors which seem to claim that Google delists sites for having duplicate content. That’s not true.
The truth is, according to Google’s own webmaster blog, there is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty. It just doesn’t exist. What does exist (and the reason why duplicate content is still a big issue when purchasing writing content for your website) are certain policies regarding scraping of content or creating multiple sites with the same content.
Here’s a classic example, again, directly from Google’s own policies on the subject: if you purchase an affiliate product, such as an MLM product, you absolutely, positively must not use the exact same squeeze letter as 5,000 other affiliates use.
The affiliate companies won’t tell you that because they want to make it sound like it’s ridiculously easy to rake in the cash so that they can rake in the cash from you. However, Google takes a dim view of affiliate links with little or no original content surrounding them because they know that every guy and his brother has them.
The only way around it is to spend the time and or money to write professional content of your own explaining why the affiliate product you want to sell really is worthwhile. Then, you’ll be light-years ahead of most of your competitors who simply slap up a website after spending $2,700 and wait for their millions to flood through the door.
I wrote about this subject recently, explaining in great detail what scraping content is. Again, if you create a website which is what some in the industry derisively call “MFA” or “Made for Adsense,” in other words, a web site where you scrape content from other people’s RSS feeds and just slap some adsense ads on the site, you will be penalized.
Google isn’t interested in displaying your content after the original material has been placed. You can occasionally do it, if you get permission from the original owners to post their content, but the majority of your site should be devoted to your own, original content which provides real value to customers.
Lots of Sites with the Same Content
Finally, the other way to get an actual penalty for duplicate content, as opposed to doing it accidentally, in which case, you should use canonical links to indicate the original and accepted page is to create multiple URLs with the exact same material.
In other words, if I were to take this same article and republish on a URL called “greatseotips.com” and then republish it on “usefulideasinseo.com” and then in “mythoughtsonseo.com” and all of them are registered to me, that’s something Google doesn’t like.
They don’t want to see dozens of websites with the same material. On the other hand, if your content is getting scraped, they work hard to make sure your content stays as the original link and not someone else’s scraped version.
A Word on Syndication
I’ve been concerned about this myself, since I’ve considered syndicating my RSS feed and still haven’t been able to find clear information on whether it’s a problem or not. However, I did find this excellent article explaining how to syndicate content without the syndicated version getting ranked higher than your own version of the content.
There is no duplicate content penalty for normal webmasters to worry about. There are however duplicate content penalties imposed on the lazy and malicious who deliberately try to game the system.