What Is Duplicate Content?

duplicate contentMany marketers question what defines the term “duplicate content”. If you ask 100 internet marketers what the term “duplicate content” means, you’ll probably get 100 different answers. The concept of duplicate content has created a sense of paranoia where some marketers or unseasoned SEOs are not sure what the boundaries are and are constantly concerned if their websites are being penalized for having duplicate content. Moz outlines what is considered duplicate content in the following article:

What is Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content is content that appears on the Internet in more than one place (URL). When there are multiple pieces of identical content on the Internet, it is difficult for search engines to decide which version is more relevant to a given search query. To provide the best search experience, search engines will rarely show multiple duplicate pieces of content and thus, are forced to choose which version is most likely to be the original—or best. 

This section was originally found on the “Moz” website which can be viewed here.

Based on this article, when a search engine has identical options to provide for a search query, it will not show all of those options but it will choose which one of those identical publications is the original one or the most relevant in order for the search engine to display the best results. Keep in mind that Google wants to provide the best user experience, therefore, it will filter out results of content that Google has deemed to be duplicated.

You may have noticed this on some searches where you’ll see the following snippet of text at the end of a truncated search result:

Google duplicate content message

To get a better understanding of what duplicate content is let’s go to the source, Google and take a look at their guidelines. In the following post by Google, they outline what happens when they consider content to be duplicated:

Duplicate Content

Google tries hard to index and show pages with distinct information. This filtering means, for instance, that if your site has a “regular” and “printer” version of each article, and neither of these is blocked with a noindex meta tag, we’ll choose one of them to list. In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.

To read the full post, click here.

Google claims that if it suspects that content is duplicated, it will affect the ranking of a site or it may even be removed from Google’s index which means that the site was penalized. However, going back to our original question, what defines duplicate content? In some cases, the best way to define what duplicate content is by discussing what it isn’t. In the following article titled, “3 Myths About Duplicate Content“, by Kissmetrics, they provide some useful information on some duplicate content myths that are floating around:

3 Myths About Duplicate Content

The words “duplicate content penalty” strike fear in the hearts of marketers. People with no SEO experience use this phrase all the time. Most have never read Google’s guidelines on duplicate content. They just somehow assume that if something appears twice online, asteroids and locusts must be close behind.

This article is long overdue. Let’s bust some duplicate content myths.

Googlebot visits most sites every day. If it finds a copied version of something a week later on another site, it knows where the original appeared. Googlebot doesn’t get angry and penalize. It moves on. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

A huge percentage of the internet is duplicate content. Google knows this. They’ve been separating originals from copies since 1997, long before the phrase “duplicate content” became a buzzword in 2005.

The above article is quite interesting and might even remove some fear in those marketers who extremely concerned about dealing with duplicate content issues. Some SEOs just simply define the phrase “duplicate content” as plagiarism, a concept that most people have been hearing since grade school English.

Here is an informative video that discusses duplicate content issues:

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