[ This is a guest post by Tom Dwyer. Tom Dwyer is former senior interactive marketing executive where he brought cutting edge online solutions to Fortune 500 companies and small business owners all over the country. Tom now spends his time consulting and strategizing with businesses and organizations on how to be heard in today’s crowded interactive world. Learn more from Tom at www.talkingwithtommyd.com. ]
The short answer is yes, if the purpose of the content is to manipulate the search results. It is never a good idea to try and fool the search engines because even if you manage to get one past them eventually it will catch up with you.
The Official Word on Duplicate Content
According to Google’s site they define duplicate content as – “…substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. … Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”
So why do search engines even care about duplicate content anyways?
Google and other search engines want to avoid including similar pages in their search results because it would compromise their user’s experience. If you think about this for a moment it is actually a good policy on the search engine’s part. Nothing is more frustrating than conducting a search; only to find several different sites that all have the exact same article. Precisely what the search engines are trying to avoid.
How to Avoid a Duplicate Content Penalty
Based on Google’s own words you can clearly see that they try to consider the intent of the content before deciding to impose a penalty. They have the ability to determine if the content they are attempting to index is trying to boost a sites search value by having multiple versions around the web. If they deem it as doing so they will penalize the site by either giving it a low ranking or worse de-indexing the site altogether.
It is very easy to avoid the potential penalty by simply writing your own content. If writing is not your thing then hire a professional writer to ghost write you content for you. You have to remember that your true ultimate goal here is to provide valuable information that your visitor is searching for. By consistently writing compelling and unique content for your audience the likelihood of incurring a duplicate content penalty is practically zero.
Publishing Your Own Content
So let’s say you write an incredible article and you want to submit it to article directories – will that count as duplicate content? The answer is yes but not like you think. You’re not going to incur a penalty with Google for having your article out there on several different article sites but the link value you receive from any links in the article will be diluted.
What you should do to insure that the search engines consider the article you wrote and is hosted on your site as the “official” version is to make certain that you post it on your site first. Once you content is on your site wait to confirm that the search engines have indexed the page before you submit it to any article directories or anywhere else. Any other site that hosts your article later will be considered “duplicate”.
One thing to note, this does not mean that your page will rank before any of the other sites that have your content. There are many factors that go into the ranking of web pages beyond whether it is duplicate or not such as back linking to the page.
Duplicate content is real and can affect your online marketing efforts, but if you are seriously trying to market yourself or your business it is unavoidable. Take the simple measures described above and you will be in a better position to avoid being penalized by the search engines.