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Duplicate Web Content Penalty Myth Exploded
By : Joel Walsh
Clarification: there is a real duplicate content penalty for content that is
duplicated with minor or no variation across the pages of a single site.
There is also a "mirror" penalty for a site that is more or less
substantially duplicating another single site. What I'm talking about here
is the reprint of pages of content individually, rather than in a mass, on
Another clarification: "penalty" is a loaded concept in SEO. "Penalty" means
that search engines will punish a website for violations of the engine's
terms of service. The punishment can mean making it less likely that the
site will appear in search results. Punishment can also mean removal from
the search engine's index of web pages ("de-indexing" or "delisting").
How have I exploded the "duplicate content penalty" myth?
* PageRank. Many thousands of high-PageRank sites reprint content and
provide content for reprint. The most obvious case is the news wires such as
Reuters (PR 8) and the Associated Press (PR 9) that reprint to sites such as
* The proliferation of content reprint sites. There are now hundreds of
websites devoted to reprint content because it's a cheap, easy magnet for
web traffic, especially search engine traffic.
* Experience. I've seen significant search engine traffic both from
distributing content to be reprinted and from reprinting content on the
How I Doubled Search Engine Traffic with Reprint Content
When I first started distributing content for my main site, I was stunned by
the highly targeted traffic I got from visitors clicking on the link at the
end of the article. Search engine traffic also slowly increased both from
the links and from having content on the site.
But I was even more stunned with the search engine traffic I got when I
started putting reprint articles on the site in September. I had written
quite a number of reprint articles for clients and accumulated a few
webmaster "fans" who looked out for my articles to reprint them. I wanted to
make it easier for them to find all the reprint articles I had written.
I didn't want to draw too much attention to these articles, which had
nothing to do with the main subject of the site, web content. So I secluded
the articles in one section of the site.
The articles got a surprising amount of search engine traffic. The traffic
was overwhelmingly from Google, and for long multiple-word search strings
that just happened to be in the article word for word.
Why was I surprised with all the search engine traffic?
1. The articles had so little link popularity. The link popularity to the
articles came primarily from a single link to the "reprint content" page
from the homepage, which linked to category pages, which linked to the
articles themselves--three clicks from the homepage. The sitemap was
enormous, well over 100 links, so its PageRank contribution was minimal.
Since these articles were on the site such a short time I strongly doubt
they got any links from other sites.
2. The articles had so much competition. These articles had been reprinted
far more widely than the average reprint article, which is lucky if it makes
it into a few dedicated reprint sites. As part of my service I had done most
of the legwork of reprinting my clients' articles for them. In fact, I
guarantee at least 100 reprints on Google-indexed web pages either for each
article or group of articles. So that's up to 100 web pages, sometimes more,
that were competing with my web page to appear in search engine results for
the search string.
Why Do Reprint Articles Get Search Engine Traffic?
You would think Google would just pick one web page with the article as the
authoritative edition and send all the traffic to it.
But that's not how Google works. All the search engines look at factors
beyond just the content on the web page. They look at links. Google, at
least, claims to look at 100 factors total. Many of these must relate to the
content on the page, but not all of them.
The whole experience has given me great insight into what factors Google
uses in addition to what we would consider the page itself, and the relative
importance of each.
* Web page titles (the one in the html title tag) are extremely important as
tie-breakers between two otherwise equally matched pages. Most reprinters
waste the html title, using the article title as the web page title. Set
yourself apart by creating unique five-to-ten-word web page titles that
include target keywords.
* Content tweaks. You can also introduce the article with a unique,
keyword-laden editor's note, and finish the article off with some
* Intra-site link popularity and anchor text (that is, for links to the
article page from other web pages on the site) are also important. If you
can't link to the page from the homepage, keep it as close to the homepage
as possible and weed out extraneous links (try putting all your site
policies on a single page).
Reprint articles, like the search engine traffic they bring, cost nothing.
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Forget the "duplicate content
penalty." Get in on content reprints and share the search engine wealth.
About the Author :
Joel Walsh (http://www.joelwalsh.com)
owns UpMarket Content which has Joel's articles available for reprint, and
also lets you order the complete website promotion content package of
content and distribution services:
Joel Walsh is the head writer for UpMarket, website content and internet
marketing services provider: