Right after college, I worked at a fast-growing website development company in Phoenix for one year. This particular company churned out websites to people who knew they could make money on the Internet, but weren’t entirely sure how to do that. Many websites were produced – some of them good, some of them not good. While there, I was able to learn a lot about the basics of web ethics. One of the very important concepts I learned: duplicate content bad. Original content good.
This has always been my pet peeve about the Internet, and blogging in particular. There are plenty of people monetizing their blogs for money or perks (free stuff, passes to events) and while they are useful in their own right, and successful in a certain sense I’ve noticed that many of them do not adhere to basic web principles – most specifically duplicate content.
According to Google, (you guys remember them, right? Google): duplicate content is “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that completely match other content or are appreciably similar.” While the intent is almost always to round out blog articles and NOT to plagiarize, the result is often the opposite.
Here’s a “real Internet world” example: Let’s say you’re writing a blog article about birthday cakes and you want to share your favorite recipe for birthday cake. You find the recipe online, link to the recipe like a good little boy, and copy and paste the directions into your text editor. You’re giving credit to the original source so no harm, no foul, right? Wrong. When search engines scan two websites and see they have matching content, they consider the website with the most traffic to be the original source. Everything else is considered duplicate and this KILLS your Google indexing. In some cases, Google won’t even list your website.
But What If The Content Is Already Mine?
This often happens when a company moves a website over from one domain to the next, or moves pages around. If this is the case, you can use a 301 redirect, to redirect users (as well as search engine bots) to the appropriate, original source of information. Google has plenty of information about 301 redirects and how to avoid duplicate content here.
How Do I Avoid Content Of The Duplicate Persuasion?
It’s simple. Really. Always write your copy. If you are writing about a recipe, reword the recipe in your own words. Talk about the steps you took to make the recipe and include pictures of substitutions you made. Always cite your sources. If moving your website to a different domain, use the appropriate 301 redirects. Be a good little blogger and Google won’t get mad at you.
When blogging, the intent is rarely to copy, but that doesn’t make duplicate content excusable. If you are building an online presence and blogging to a distinct audience it is your responsibility to provide original and informative content each and every time. Apply basic web principles to make your readers happy, as well as Google.