The truth about SEO & duplicate content

We were taught early on as children that taking something and calling it “ours” is wrong, as adults we should know better.  Somehow some seem to have forgotten what is wrong and what is right and duplicate content is just plain wrong.

At least, Matt Cutts remembers that for sure and constantly reminds site owners and SEO’s of how important unique content is.

So what is duplicate content? And why do people do it if it’s wrong?  Duplicate content is content that can appear in multiple sites all over the World Wide Web.  Even if not exactly the same as the original, it will be so similar that there’s no substantial difference.

To some site owners they use duplicate content to save money and time.  Some do it out of sheer laziness, greed and unprofessionalism.  However, duplicate content can commonly be found in ecommerce sites because of product descriptions and specifications and also distributed press releases – that is a whole different matter and discussion.

Negative effects of duplicate content

As a website owner or blogger, you may save money by duplicating someone else’s content, or hiring someone cheap who responds by stealing content and passes it off as their own.  To be fair, you may not be aware of this, but the point is, if you hire a professional to do it you won’t have to worry about duplicate content even though it will initially cost you a little more.  This cost-cutting may in the end be the cause of your business to go bust.

People should be aware that search engines are smart and are getting smarter every day.  Search engines have been programmed to look for identical content all over the net.  They will crawl across your site like ants searching though the content and once they’ve identified duplicate material, you will automatically be punished for this by:

–        Very low search ranks.

–        Little or no traffic at all.

–        Consequent revenue losses.

Perhaps the most important loss would be your reputation on the internet with your customers, followers or audience.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Like all offenders, yes you can actually be punished by the law.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act forbids anyone to steal or use content from other websites.  And contrary to popular belief, copyright infringement cases do not only happen to the rich and famous, it can also happen to website owners – no matter how small your business is.  And yes, you might just receive a polite but stern email requesting you to remove the duplicate content you stole, or you may receive a very official letter from a lawyer informing you that you are about to be dragged into court for a very expensive lawsuit.  Is stealing really worth it?

How to check for Uniqueness

Online plagiarism tools like are one of a number of means to ensure that your content is original and not duplicated.  A lot of these online checkers are free, but to achieve premium results, you may have to subscribe to them via a small fee.  Think of these plagiarism tools as your shield to safeguard you against online thieves.  It is important to do these online checks at least once a month – that way you will know that you and your content is safe and fresh.

Pros of having unique content

Every self-respecting website owner should aspire for unique content.  It’s always great to be original, to be known as the trendsetter, not a copier or plagiarist.  By posting and publishing unique content you will gain respect among your readers and visitors to your site will grow in numbers – your profit will also flourish.  Not only that, search engines will reward you for this by elevating you in their search ranks – every website owner’s dreams.

Achieving unique and new content isn’t difficult.  It may seem costly at first, but it is definitely pays dividends in a long term run. Consider high quality content as an investment into your future site success.


About the Author ~ James Wright

James Wright is a graduate of Swarthmore College, where he was the one who developed web interface of college’s paperwork cloud storage. Have a strong interest in developing all kind of Internet marketing and SEO tools. Currently working as a content manager and user behavior analytic at plagiarism checker on a freelance basis.


Photo thanks to Whiz Kris

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4 replies
  1. Kimmo Linkama says:

    So you write a blog post. You share a link via Twitter. But you might post it verbatim on Google+ or Facebook or a LinkedIn group to reach your readers you know are not following your blog. And then you get punished? Not good.

  2. Claire Hawes says:

    This blog has proved extremely timely.

    Time pushed – I have just drafted a blog using content from a client’s company’s web site – making very slight amends throughout and topping and tailing it.

    Using the PlagTracker tool I have found that my blog contains 30% plagiarised content. Not surprisingly the website it was taken from was the client’s own.

    Does this repurposing of your own content, with a very slight edit, from your your own website count as duplication?


  3. James Wright says:

    Kimmo, actually I think that Google is managing social sharing ‘duplicates’ properly or at least trying to, because sharing information or part of it is a basic rule of any social hub.

  4. Margriet says:

    I think James is right. As I understand it, Google understands that sharing content via social media, is part of the nature of the internet. Only when it is clear that the duplicate is meant to manipulate search engines, Google will intervene. How Google can detect this though?


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