Your top 5 FAQs about duplicate content answered

Questions about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are usually near the top of the list when our customers talk to us about what they want from their website, and with good reason. SEO is important. One of the many aspects of website design and content management that can effect SEO is duplicate content, but there is still some confusion about what that really means. Here are the answers to our five most common questions regarding duplicate content.

1.    Duplicate, similar, same – what’s the difference?

Duplicate content refers to big blocks of content that is exactly the same as something else – either within the same domain or on another domain. Even if it’s not an exact match, Google defines duplicate content as being exactly the same or “appreciably similar”. But don’t panic, the search engines understand that most of the time, this duplicate content is not malicious in intent or deliberately deceptive.

2.    Will our website be penalised if it contains duplicate content?

Maybe. The key thing to remember is that the search engines bots are looking for large blocks of the same/very similar content, across multiple pages of your website.

The other trigger is timing. If you’re launching a site and you haven’t populated all the pages but have used the same large chunks of placeholder text across multiple pages, or taken text from another website ‘temporarily’ – and you publish all the pages of the same content at the same time, there is a high risk that the duplicate content alarm bells at Google will start ringing and you could be penalised in the page ranking.

The context and page location can also play a role. Blog posts are often really similar – there are hot topics and news items that are all based on the same sorts of topics. Don’t worry – the Google bots know this. The duplicate content that raises red flags is when large blocks of homepage, about us or case study content is duplicated.

3.    What about boilerplate text at the bottom of the page?

This can be a problem if you’re using a large volume of the same text on every page. If your boilerplate simply contains some contact information, social channel links and privacy policy details, it’s unlikely to be problem.

A good tip is to use links to pages that contain further information, rather than reproducing it across pages on your website.

4.    Which CMS is best for simple content management?

The type of CMS (Content Management System) you use is rarely the problem. The real issue is understanding how your CMS works. Just as important as good website design is having a digital strategy that is going to keep your website up-to-date and for that you need a CMS you can use easily and regularly. Updating your website with fresh content is one of the best ways to increase your website’s SEO. Choose an CMS that’s easy to use and understand how it publishes your content to different areas of the site.

5.    What can I do about people plagiarising my content?

There’s a big difference between content ‘scrapers’ and plagiarism – which is a crime. Content ‘scraping’ is done by a scraper program that extracts content from websites and publishes it on another website. Content scrapers actually don’t make a big difference to your website’s page rankings.

It’s extremely rare that a page containing scraped content will outrank the genuine, original website because search engine algorithms take into consideration factors such as site quality. Many of the websites using content scrapers are not good quality websites and rank poorly for a whole range of reasons.

Plagiarism – where someone has taken your original content and passed it off as their own – is illegal. Digital content is protected by copyright laws in much the same way as traditional media and you can use the same methods for addressing it. Here are some options:

  • Get a copyright lawyer involved
  • Send a ‘cease and desist’ letter. This will at the very least alert the offender to the fact they’ve been busted and most of the time – they will remove the offending content
  • Use social media and business review tools to ‘out’ them. It might seem extreme, but it’s an option worth thinking about
  • Find the website host and notify them that a website they are hosting is in breach of copyright law. They are legally obliged to remove the offending content
  •  Tell Google. This is the digital equivalent of sending someone to the school principal’s office. There are serious consequences. No-one wants to be on the Google blacklist

Need help with your online content or website SEO? iFactory provides digital strategy and digital marketing services that deliver results as well as fresh, relevant content for your website. Contact us today on + 61 7 3844 0577 to discuss a digital strategy that can take your business to the next level.

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