Back in the good old days, cartographers (map makers) used to leave little inaccuracies in their maps as a sort of ‘watermark’ so if they ever saw another map that used the same little mistake, they would know that they had been plagiarised and would have a reasonable case against the other person. Nowadays, it’s really no different. We all want to keep our original content original, but with websites set up to purposely steal content and a general abundance of web content, that’s not as easy as making Madagascar twice as big on your map. This problem is what we call ‘duplicate content’ and it effects content creators all around the web. In this blog, you’ll see a few of the problems associated with duplicate content as well as some solutions to help your business against duplicate content.
One post to rule them all:
Have you ever gone to go out with a few mates and just before you head out it turns out that you and two of your friends are wearing the same shirt? It’s a funny coincidence, and we may have a laugh about it, but chances are you’ll be getting changed. Well, it turns out the Google algorithm gets just as embarrassed as the rest of us when it comes to duplicate content. If it spots content that’s anywhere from a word-to-word copy to even just similar, it’ll prioritise one of these sources and usually only rank that one in a relevant ranking position, meaning the other sites will be pushed back and remain unseen.
If your content has been copied by a scraper site, which is a website that copies and pastes articles found online similarly to a phishing site to gain rankings and ad revenue, and then that site ranks well above you, well you can start to see the issue. Of course, Google has a function that allows you to appeal against a scraper’s ranking and get back on top, but what do you do when both pages are yours? The likelihood is that you’ve orchestrated a situation wherein by only one of these pages will rank well, whilst the others suffer. If you’re looking for a way around this, there’s really only one option- write original content.
Link equity – sharing isn’t caring:
There’s a little thing regarding links that heavily affects you search engine rankings, and it’s called link equity. Imagine a room full of random people, and someone says, “Anyone called Nick Thomas gets the cookie” which is great if you have that name, but the issue lies in the fact that it’s a massive room, and there are four other people who are also called Nick Thomas, and you have to split the cookie between yourselves equally. That is fundamentally link equity, however, instead of it being chance that there are other people with the same name, you’ve created additional web pages that use the same link address and live content, so Google makes you share the value of that link (like the cookie), which means the more you reuse/duplicate/copy content, the less valued your original content becomes. To truly get your whole cookie in terms of receiving full link equity, be unique and create original and relevant material for one site. Also, if you use Google Analytics to track your web pages, try to avoid creating loads of separate live versions of the same page through too many URL parameters and campaign tags, as this can influence your link equity negatively too.
Negative perception for negligent marketing:
The final, and most important, reason for avoiding duplicate content isn’t even regarding the algorithm or the technicalities of a link address, it’s about the way your site and brand is perceived. Imagine you’re trying to show a potential customer one of your blogs, but it ends up that they’ve seen very similar content, it can certainly make you seem unoriginal and could disrupt a potential sale for you and your business with you not even knowing. You’ll receive a poor brand image that will negatively affect your own online reputation. Give consumers a reason to work with you and they may consider it but give them a reason to ignore your business and you best believe they will without a second thought.
In summary, if you’re considering of reusing some content, copying some material from another website or issuing the same blogs across your clientele, then remember all of the above and, quite simply, don’t.
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