Duplicate Content Myth for SEO: Will Google Give Me a Duplicate Content Penalty?

This post is meant to be helpful for those with an intermediate level understanding of SEO. If you have a basic understanding of how Google and other search engines rank pages and are aware of some basic SEO best practices but aren’t yet an SEO expert, we think you’ll find this post useful. You can also find DIYSEO posts classified by level of expertise on the following pages:

One common question people who start to read about SEO often has is “what constitutes duplicate content?”

Duplicate content is a phrase that many people mis-use as it relates to SEO. Let’s start by dispelling the duplicate content myth.

The Duplicate Content Myth: You Won’t Get a Duplicate Content “Penalty”

Many Webmasters and small business owners think their sites will receive some sort of punishment from Google for having blocks of content or entire pages that are identical. This  isn’t the case: if you have created an otherwise above-board site Google won’t issue any sort of over-arching penalty for having duplicate content. Furthermore, having large blocks of content that are identical on multiple pages (or even every page) isn’t an issue at all and is actually quite normal. Think of elements like a site’s navigation – nearly every site has elements like these that are duplicated across many pages, and those sites rank quite well (and of course it would be impossible for Google to penalize for this).

One area to be wary of is in creating entire pages that are identical to each other. In other words, if you have two Web pages that don’t have any unique elements this is an example of “duplicate content” that, while it won’t induce any sort of penalty, can be somewhat detrimental to your site’s SEO. This is problematic for two main reasons:

  • It confuses Google - Google doesn’t know which of two identical pages to return for a search query. When someone searches for “Chicago plumbing” if you have two identical pages that talk about Chicago plumbing in the same way, Google will have trouble determining which version of that page to return.
  • It dilutes your “link equity” or “link juice” – Similarly if you have two identical pages that you link to on your site, you’re “splitting” the amount of “link juice” each page gets. Instead of having one page about Chicago plumbing that gets all of the juice, you have two getting 50%. The problem is these pages will be competing with other sites who are giving a single page of their link equity, and only one of your pages can actually show in the results, so you’re basically cutting your chances of having a page on your site rank for Chicago plumbing in half.

So the moral of the story is that your site won’t be penalized for having duplicate blocks of content or even duplicate pages, but having duplicate pages can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings.

In a future post we’ll show a very quick and relatively simple way to see if you have duplicate content on your small local business site. For a nice visual on the topic of duplicate content you can check out the image below created by SEO Moz:

Duplicate content penalties in Google are a myth: find out why.

Duplicate content in 2011

What does duplicate content mean for SEO?

Categories: SEO Questions

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Rudnick/615701716 Jim Rudnick

    Nice posting here DIY folks….not new by any means but a great reminder for all….dup penaltys exist and trying to find a way to manipulate via dup pages is NOT the way to go, eh!

    Sure hope that this page will end up soon in the top serps for “duplicate pages” so that when newbies to SEO search, they’ll find it quickly and read and learn…
    :-)

    Jim

    • http://www.diyseo.com DIYSEO Team

      Hi Jim,

      Absolutely it’s definitely a common concern for people learning about SEO, so glad it’s useful!

      Thanks for the comment!

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