Somehow, thousands of marketers have got it in their head that they’ll be penalised severely for having any duplicate content on their site; thrown into the abyss of the lowest ranked pages in Google’s hierarchy. That’s further from the truth than you might imagine.
According to Matt Cutts and a recent study performed by Raven Tools, more than 25% of the web is duplicate content. But this isn’t to say you shouldn’t do anything if you have any duplicate content.
Susan Moska posted on the Google Webmaster blog in 2008 with: “Let’s put this to bed once and for all, folks: There’s no such thing as a “duplicate content penalty”. At least, not in the way most people mean when they say that. You can help your fellow webmasters by not perpetuating the myth of duplicate content penalties!”
It looks like that hasn’t happened at all.
To avoid any ambiguity, let’s define what duplicate content is:
“Duplicate content refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely matches other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin.”
So in summing, duplicate content penalties do not exist – except in severe cases. For example, let’s say a site copies home page text into a press release, which is immediately redistributed 100 times across the web. That would automatically cause Google to blacklist the site. But that was only down to a couple of reason:
Volume: Hundreds of instances of the same text
Timing: All the content appeared at the same time
Happenings like this can naturally, quite easily, be quickly flagged as spam. If, however, the duplicate content does not fulfil the volume and timing criteria, then it’s highly unlikely it will raise Google’s alarm bells. Many sites frequently repost articles (with permission) that first appeared elsewhere. While they don’t expect this content to rank well, they recognise that there’s no harm in republishing an article that won’t hurt the credibility of their domain.
We hope that settles the debate. Focus less on penalty prevention and more on maximising your SEO efforts.