Duplicate Content Issues

by Ashley Stafford on October 24, 2011

Sploggers, copycats, scrapers, knock-offs, mimeos, ringers… no matter what you call them, they are out there duplicating your content. Almost every website has to deal with them or even their own onsite issues, so we wanted to give some ways to make sure you can keep ranking for your own material.

How Search Engines Determine the ‘Real’ Content

When search engines see two duplicate pages on a site, they mainly look at three different things:

  • URL metrics: this is determined by PageRank, link diversity, how many and who are pointing their information back to that page on your site.
  • Domain metrics: which domain is more ‘authoritative’ by more sources across multiple sites.  High-quality backlinks are a great way to ‘show’ the major search engines value and trust.
  • Link attributions: single links back to your site by the websites that are copying your information may not provide much help, but when there’s many links sending that attribution back to your site, it can be extremely helpful. These links shouldn’t just go back to your homepage though, they need to go to the exact URL with the same content.

How Much Is Not ‘Damaging’

The aggravating issue surrounding this heated debate is that there is no single, solitary answer. The reason for this is simple. The major search engines are constantly changing their algorithms, so if there was a finite number today, it’ll probably change tomorrow. The method to follow is to make sure you are creating your content uniquely. By just changing the small ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘what’ and ‘whys’, you are still running the risk of getting penalized. If you are worried about duplicate content, find a way to leverage your uniqueness in a scalable way.

One way to get this is by user generated content. Ratings, reviews, voting — all of that information is unique to you, so use it to your advantage. Take for example an Amazon.com page. A lot of the content is taken directly from the manufacturer, but Amazon’s unique content comes from all of their reviews and comments thus helping them stay ranked for information that has been duplicated.

Another way is to have some sort of in-house editing department. If you are not equipped (or lucky enough to have in-house writers) you can hire an intern to let loose on your duplicate content. For each page written, they receive compensation based on the amount done. It is important to note that there are inexpensive ways to get the job done.

Explanation of Being ‘Filtered Out’ By Duplicate Content

There are some gray areas with the filtering of content, but what it basically means is that a certain page has been penalized and has no chance of ranking. The other aspect that a page loses is all of the link juice. Essentially, it looks like you are linking from a 404 page. All of the links going to that page as well as out are considered useless.

The most important aspect of what you put out there (even if it’s unique) is to make sure it’s valuable. If you’ve gotten past the duplicate content issues, offer information that is informative to people and try to ensure that it’s quality content. We all unfortunately have to deal with duplicate content issues, whether they are self-inflicted or not. The best way to deal with them if offer up unique, quality content—that is ultimately the only way to keep yourself out of the sandbox and in the index.


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