Is Google really punishing you for duplicate content?

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It’s a myth that has circulated the internet for years, but Google does not punish for duplicate content. Instead, Google rewards unique content and content that adds value to internet users. But Google can penalize low-quality or deceptive content when content is used for an irresponsible purpose or with malicious intent. Duplicate content, however, is often not manipulative and is commonplace on the internet. So, what does Google do when it comes to duplicate content? 

What is duplicate content?

According to Google, duplicate content refers to substantive blocks of content shared on the same website or to different websites that either completely matches other content or is similar to other content. This content is not deceptive or designed to be malicious. Essentially, duplicate content is content that appears on the internet in more than one place. That one place is defined as a location with a unique website address or URL. If the same content appears at more than one URL, it is considered duplicate content. 

While Google does not punish you for having duplicate content on your website, it can still sometimes impact search engine rankings, just as any unique content would. When there are multiple pieces of similar content on the internet and Google finds that similar content in more than one location, it can be difficult for search engines to decide which version of that similar content is more relevant and therefore, which should be ranked higher. All content that is shared on the internet competes for higher search engine rankings in the same way. The more relevant the content is, the higher it will rank.

So, what is Google actually looking for in content? 

Google’s main focus is to deliver the highest quality search results to internet users. This means it has to sift through content that is closely related and uses the same keywords users have searched for to determine which is the most relevant result to display first. Google is also on the lookout for deceptive practices. Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results (Google, 2020). 

Duplicate content can look deceptive to Google if your website begins to appear like a spam site. To avoid that, it’s important to make sure your brand credibility is protected by only sharing duplicate content that is relevant to your business. Many big websites, especially in the news and media industry, share duplicate content and continue to rank highly in search engines. This is because the duplicate content they share adds value to their website, rather than distract from their main message or purpose. 

How Google ranks duplicate content

Google will still rank your duplicate content, as long as it includes the appropriate keywords. The higher the quality of the content, the higher it is likely to rank. The general rule of thumb for digital marketers has always been to make the content more unique in order to rank higher than the similar or same content on another website. One of the ways to do this would be to use geographic modifiers to specify the location of your business in the content. When it comes to duplicate content, Google will rank the website that has the higher authority highest. This authority is determined by the other content on that website and the brands’ credibility or reputation. So keeping the duplicate content within your brand’s message and purpose is vital. 

Won’t Google rank my website lower for duplicate content? 

Google is looking for reputable websites to rank highly. Duplicate content isn’t going to affect you in that area as long as you’re meeting your SEO requirements. If you share content that your audience is looking for and the content is high quality, written well and considered valuable by those who visit your website, you’re going to begin ranking higher. Google wants to reward you for rich, relevant, informative and helpful content that your potential clients will want to see.

How to improve your rankings with duplicate content

While Google won’t punish your duplicate content, it wants to reward unique content with added value. You won’t be punished for downloading an article from Partica and uploading it straight to your website or social media pages, but you should always edit it to suit your website and unique needs anyway. Doing this will make the content more unique, as well as benefit your brand awareness, reliability and credibility by suiting your unique audience and your tone of voice. Your audience is already used to the way you speak so make sure you’re editing the content to maintain consistency. It’s also beneficial to include links to other pages on your website within the duplicate content to help keep readers on your website for longer. You can read more on how to edit an article to make it your own here. 

Remember, a huge percentage of the internet is made up of duplicate content. Google knows this. Their bots are visiting websites every day, making note of where content first appeared and when it’s appearing now. All you need to know is that Google won’t punish you if they find that content on your website too. They simply move on. So, instead of worrying about whether Google approves of your duplicate content or not, focus your energy on sharing relevant and informative content to your potential clients. 

EJ Filone

EJ Filone

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