On Duplicate Content and Not Acting Silly

Duplicate content is one of the Internet frills that Google has been fighting for quite a while now. A lot of people who want to turn some quick profits in the web resort to direct copying or rewriting of other people’s original content without proper attribution. This is not only illegal; it also clutters up the web and deprives legitimate authors of the opportunities that should have come along with their hard work.

I saw an interesting thread recently over at the Google Webmaster Help Forum. There was one webmaster who whined to Google that he was banned from the SERPs due to excessive on-page optimization. A lot of people including one Google rep pointed out that it isn’t exactly the on-page over-optimization that got the man’s site sandboxed – it’s duplicate content that was his undoing.

The discussion could have stopped there but the webmaster tried to defend his side by saying it’s other websites who are copying from him and not the other way around. The Google rep did some investigation and issued a professional but nonetheless scathing rebuttal. Here’s the gist of it:

 

Google Rep:

One thing that is very important to our algorithms is unique and compelling content. In general, it makes little sense for us to crawl and index content that is copied, rewritten, automatically translated or otherwise automatically processed — we assume that our users would much rather want to find the original source. With that in mind, I would strongly recommend removing all such content — should you have any — and making sure that all of your content is of the highest quality possible, and really unique and compelling, in short: something that users will want to refer friends to.

Should you find and remove content like that, I would recommend submitting a reconsideration request after cleaning everything up, detailing the changes that you have made.

 

Webmaster:

Please also understand the fact that people are copying me. Just like my last post New Zealand vs South Africa it is totally unique, read it as its worth reading as I write my own reviews and you can see last night I submited this post and it is already copied to two or more sites. You can check all my reviews, they are totally unique but it seems they are no longer, on web I can not stop people copying me. And if I would be well indexed this would surely copied by many.


Google Rep:

It would seem strange to me that the Times of India would be copying and correcting the mistakes in your posts… Looking through a sample of your posts, I don’t see a problem with other sites copying your content, but I do see posts on your site that are just rewritten from other sources. While I understand that you can’t make up news, it’s really important to us that your site provides unique and compelling content of its own, even if you are referring to other sources. One way to do this could be to properly quote and link to the original source, while making sure that your commentary makes up the majority of the content on those pages. Rewriting other sources without attribution or unique additional value is not something that our algorithms appreciate.

So what have we learned from this? Simple: If you’re going to reference other sources of content on the web, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. This is one of those rare cased where Google actually TELLS you what to do – they say “One way to do this could be to properly quote and link to the original source, while making sure that your commentary makes up the majority of the content on those pages.”

Wow. An actual ACTIONABLE take-away from Google. Shocking.

Bottom line; don’t try to compensate for laziness in building a content library using underhanded tactics. The Big g will sniff out what you’re doing sooner or later and nail you – HARD.

Until then,

 

Andy

Source thread: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=2afa3ae7a3f5ef4c&hl=en

  • http://www.themysteriousmarketer.com/ Allen Walker

    And that’s what we probably learn in school as well. :) Lol.

    Very insightful and a good reminder to us all…

    Cheers,
    Allen

  • walter daniels

    While I admit that Google is probably a little too “close-mouthed,” I think I know the reason. It all boils down to honesty and openness, i.e. what we should have learned in school. :-)
    I believe that Google thinks tbey shouldn’t have to take their time, teaching us what we should already know. Actually, I’m not sure they can “get down in the weeds” with us, very easily. Their experts are used to figuring out how to make the algorithms better, and doing a fine job of it. The problem is that being that high up, makes it difficult to explain the basic ideas.

    Especially, when they should be self obvious to most of us. Too many see the openness, and think “how can I do the most, with the least effort.” So, they cheat, just as they probably did in school. Those of us that were honest in school, will win out in the end, but it does take time.

  • http://www.joycegrace.ca Joyce

    Super cool to read. I wonder though, where does that put article spinners? In the dumpster? Some SEO artists live by them.

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