Why is Duplicate Content Bad?

It is common knowledge that Google hates duplicate content.  Why is this?  What harm could having your content on several different sites really do to your search engine ranking?

duplicate content Well, it could wipe one of your website’s pages off the Google map.  The problem that Google runs into is that they cannot determine which page is best, so they are forced to guess.  Many people fall into this trap while trying to promote their website.  Instead of creating new content to display on different sites, they copy and paste to save time.  This can only hurt them in the long run.

What is Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content is defined by Google as large blocks of content on different URLs.  This can occur on differing sites, or even the same one.  Duplicate content can be a copy of the other site’s content, or just contain really similar wording.  This means that you can’t just change a few words and get away with it.

Many times people will copy a site’s content while providing a link back to the site to give them credit.  This is meant to be flattering, but in reality it can hurt the site’s ranking.

What isn’t Duplicate Content?

If you really think that an article on another blog is really worth promoting, it is ok to snip out a little bit of the text and provide a link to that article.  A small amount of content is generally ignored by Google, and the blog that you are linking to will appreciate the attention.  It’s just when you get into pasting large chunks of the article that you could get into trouble with Google.

Removing Content from Another Site

If you do happen to find your content on another site, and are afraid that it will hurt your ranking, there are ways to get it removed.  Sometimes people put duplicate content up to help drive traffic to your site without realizing the potential issues.  Before you jump the gun and notify to Google police, try contacting the webmaster and politely ask them to remove it.  State your reasons and you should not receive any gruff from the webmaster.  They don’t want duplicate content on their site either.

If they are unresponsive, it is possible that they stole your content.  In this case you should report them to Google and let them deal with the consequences.  Just make sure that you are doing the right thing before you report a site, because you could severely hurt the website’s ranking.  If it was an honest mistake, let them correct it on their own.

Duplicate Content on Your Own Site

Sometimes you may have duplicate content on your own site.  This will not effect your search rankings much, but you may end up with the wrong page being shown in Google.  To prevent this, you should use robots.txt to block pages that you don’t want listed.  This will tell the bots to skip over that page.

Search ranking can be manipulated in many ways and Google is always on the lookout for offenders.  If you think you may have duplicate content hurting your site it would be wise to eliminate it.  Google does not exist to make friends.  They want to provide the best service to the end user and that means giving them different options for their searches.  Duplicate content will prevent this.

Here is a explanatory video about duplicate content from the Google Webmasters team

This article was written by Chris Ruminski who operates 2makemoneyontheweb.com.  His site is dedicated to finding the best ways to make money online without falling into a scam. Image credits to Timoni, shared under CC license. You can also share your SEO tips and submit a guest post today.

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.