19 May 11 10:40 pm
Is Duplicate Content Really A Problem?
So I got to thinking about my SEO efforts the other day, and all the fuss about duplicate content, and it made me wonder - is duplicate content really such a problem? I'm not sure if this is a question that has an answer, or if I'm just trying to start a bit of a debate, but here are my thoughts.
Unless I misunderstood all the stories, it seems that Google's recent Panda update is all about getting rid of crappy content - or at least, paying less attention to sites that look as though they contain crappy content. If you took one well-written article, spun it well, and submitted it to a 10/50/100 sites and directories, it seems pretty fair to assume that this is the type of content that the big G is trying to weed out.
So what does Google want? Great content that readers will actually want to, well, read. So what's wrong with just taking the same article as in the example above, and simply submitting it to the same sites, unchanged (apart from the obvious ones who insist on unique content)? Well, we're told, you'll get hit with Google's duplicate content penalty.
But doesn't Google's duplicate content 'penalty' just mean that the search results will simply show the most relevant or authoritative example of the article you submitted, and omit the other, less important ones from the results? And to do that, doesn't that mean that it would have to know about (or index) the other less important pages containing your 'duplicate article? If these pages have been indexed, but are simply excluded from the search results in order to provide the internet user with a better search experience, wouldn't you still benefit from the links on these 'duplicate' pages?
Sure, you might say that those links won't mean as much because Google just views them as duplicates, but is that really the case?
Say you wrote the best article ever written. Instead of spinning it, creating hundreds of versions that were over 40% uniques and posting them on loads of different directories (which seems to be what so many of us are doing), you only placed it on the best article directory, one that insists on unique content so it can syndicate articles out to the best sites on the web.
Your article gets picked up by some of the top news aggregators on the web, who all post it without alterations (as in the TOS of most directory sites), all linking back to your website. So you've written a great article that authoritative websites want to share with all their readers because it's the best of what the web has to offer, in fact, everything Google says they want from the Internet. And you're going to be penalised for this?
Maybe I'm being too simplistic, and the extreme example above isn't 'real world' enough, but if you write (or pay to have written) excellent articles, and play the game the way Google wants it played, doesn't it seem unreasonable that you might actually be worse off than those who are trying to 'game' the system? Not that everyone thinks that Google is fair, but at the very least, if all your duplicate articles and their backlinks are getting indexed, even if they do get excluded from the SERPs, should we really be bothered?