Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is defined as content that shows up or appears on more than one website or URL. This is highly frowned upon by search engines and visitors because it brings down the quality of the online experience. Reasons surrounding why duplicate content is an issue for search engines was briefly mentioned in the previous chapter. Now we will get a more in-depth look at exactly why duplicate content has become a problem and how it’s related to SEO.

Duplicate Content and SEO

One common SEO practice is link building. Link building contributes to a website’s page ranking in the search engine results page. In the early days of the search engine, it was easier to get away with publishing duplicate content on various websites, which lead to a build up of webspam. As the search engine evolved, the boundaries of duplicate content started to stretch. Users had to make minor changes to duplicate content such as keyword placement, keyword ratio, basic paragraph structure, adjectives, headers and etc. This eventually became known as the term spinning. SEO businesses quickly caught on and developed spinning programs that spun content into several ways in a matter of seconds. However, search engines were one step ahead and stretched the boundaries of duplicate content yet again.

Nowadays, a user would need to naturally spin the article (completely rewrite it), change the videos and images that were used, change the format for the content for it not to be labeled as a duplicate. Why all the fuss? From the visitor’s experience, constantly running into websites with duplicate content can be a frustrating experience. As mentioned in the previous chapter, duplicate content is an issue for search engine crawlers because it has to determine which content is the original. Search engines would like to avoid listing duplicate content in the search engine results page as much as possible.

Penalties Involved With Duplicate Content

In the fight against webspam, search engines began penalizing websites that were publishing duplicate content under their standards. Some websites were taken off the search engine results page, while others reported a decrease in traffic. However, there’s another aspect of duplicate content. In reference to the Google Algorithms chapter, there was a major update penalizing websites that were “over-optimized.” This led others to believe that duplicate content was not the reason why they were being penalized, but instead it was due to lack of quality and bad back link strategies. This conclusion surfaced due to the fact getting penalized for republishing articles seemed illogical. Articles such as press releases, news updates, scripts, contracts and other specific content were made not to be altered; therefore are suppose to be republished as a direct copy of the original.

Besides the penalties that a website might receive from a search engine, there are other aspects to consider. Duplicate content can hurt a website’s credibility. If a visitor constantly runs into websites with irrelevant and duplicate content, he/she may possibly avoid all content associated with the website thinking its webspam. Dealing With Others Duplicating Your Content

There is the another side of the duplicate content issue wherein people copy content from your website directly and post in on their own or different website. Search engines are unable to distinguish if you were attempting to quickly build links or if someone was stealing your content and reposting it. In this case, the first step would be to contact the scraper directly and request for the post to be taken down. If they ignore, refuse or claim property to your hard earned and written content then the next step would be to contact the web host. If all else fails, you can file a duplicate content report to the search engine for the removal of the targeted content.

Duplicate Content Solutions

Producing content naturally is tedious and can get technical. Most people do not have the time to come up with fresh content on a regular basis. If that’s not the issue, some people may not have the skill to produce attractive content. One solution that solves both problems is to hire a content writer. Constant communication and attention to detail is required to get the best results out of a content writer. The idea is, that as the website owner, you have the vision for the company. The content writer in return will produce content based on the vision and future plans of the website. However, hiring a content writer requires additional monetary resources, therefore it maybe an issue for companies that lack the flexibility in their budget.

Another solution is to invest in a software that spins content articles. This is a quick fix solution and may not get the same natural flow of an article that was conceptualized and written by a human. Using article-spinning programs may increase the possibility of getting various penalties from a search engine.


Search engines have not perfected the way duplicate content is being processed. This is very obvious based on the amount of duplicate content published on different websites still showing up on the search engine results page. When it comes between the search engines and SEO companies, there is no clear standard as what can pass as original content and what is labeled as a duplicate. Until more development has been done to resolve this issue, it would be advisable to avoid any attempts in getting around search engine bots and manually publish high-quality and relevant content.