Should I worry about duplicate content?

Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism FinderShould I worry about duplicate content? This is a question I am often asked and the answer is “you should be aware of it and the results it may cause.”
If you are trying to get high rankings on Google for a web page you should make sure the content is unique. When Google finds 2 or more pages with the same content it will select the one it thinks is the original and the other copies can end up in Google’s supplemental index. The means that a copy of your content could end up on page one of Google and your web page disappears completely.

Pages in the supplemental index are crawled less and are considered to be trussed less and probably carry less weight regarding their outbound links. Therefore you will not achieve top rankings if your pages are in this index.

You should be particularly careful if you syndicate articles on your blog and I recommend against this. For example if you post an article on your website and then post the same article to a number of article directories or other websites it is possible one of the copies will rank in Google and your page will be pushed into the Supplemental index.

This is why you will find that people will use article spinners to get hundreds of different versions on the same articles. The problem with article spinning software is that I have not come across any that can produce high quality content, most spun articles have grammatical errors. The only way to create quality spun articles is to spin by hand which can take as much time as re-writing the article completely.

This is something you should pay particular attention to if you use PLR articles. Always re-write the article and then check it is unique by checking it on copyscape.com

Also check to see if any of your website pages are in the supplemental index.
There are a few ways to check this by I found the most reliable way is to do the following.

Check the total number of pages indexed on your site, type into Google
site:www.yoursite.com
Check the total number of pages in the Main Index type into Google
site:www.yoursite.com -inallurl:www.yoursite.com
Then subtract the number in the main index from the total number of pages indexed to find out how many of your pages are in the supplemental index.

There are other reasons your pages might be in the supplemental index, duplicate content is just one.

As always, Google loves unique quality content so make sure this is what you are providing on your website or blog.

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Roger Weavers

Roger has been working in the telecomms and IT industry since 1973 working for international companies such as BT and Honeywell. Roger founded Sytec Computers Ltd in 1996 and provided consultancy services to a variety of UK companies. In 2001 Sytec diversified into web design, marketing and hosting and now Roger specialises in SEO.

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10 Comments

  1. Gerald says:

    Hi Roger, I totally agree with you that duplicate content should be avoided. I am also not keen on article spinners. I have used one or two in the past but have never been happy with the quality of the spun articles. I now prefer to write the article from scratch. It may take more time but it is worth it.

    All the best,
    Gerald.

  2. Paul Conway says:

    Hey Roger

    Is the supplemental index aka the sandbox? Personally I have never ever used the same content twice for the reasons you mentioned above.

    Original content is best enough said!
    Paul

  3. Hi Paul,

    The supplemental Index actually exists as you can see by using the searches I mentioned in my post. The sandbox has never been confirmed by Google and is just a theory, or many different theories. Some people believe that new sites are given a penalty for the first 6 months. There is a reverse sandbox theory where new websites are boosted for 6 months. The sandbox is a bit of an old term, we all like to blame slaps by Pandas and Penguins now.
    Cheers
    Roger

  4. Paul Conway says:

    Hey Roger

    Well I am an old boy > so old term will suit ;)

    Cheers
    Paul

  5. I think we are both too old to be playing in the sandbox ;)

  6. Brad Lees says:

    Hi Roger
    Useful information as always. I have never liked spinning content – the spinners just throw up so much garbage. So, how would you recommend getting plenty of ‘similar’ content out there?
    How does a site owner get lots of links that will actually be seen by real people for example?
    Brad

  7. HI Brad,
    great questions :) So much has changed over the past year and even over the past few weeks. I am currently researching and testing link building techniques, but from what I have found out so far is that just about every thing has been devalued. What was good a year ago is now considered spam, blackhat or unnatural. Keyword anchor text, which was always good, now seems not as relevant. The focus is on link diversity but not too many of certain types of links. Many rankings are currently going up and down like yoyos. I think Google are making too many changes too quickly. Maybe they are trying to confuse us SEO professionals. I hope to be publishing my latest findings here soon but I believe that a few high quality links is the way to go and not hundreds of low quality links.

  8. Muhsin says:

    I never messed with duplicate content. It’s just too risky and furthermore I am not that knowledgable
    when it comes to SEO. But thanks for pointing me to copyscape. Now i know where to fo to check
    whether if my contents are duplicated. :)

  9. Rich says:

    Hi Roger,

    In a previous life, which I’m not proud of (I didn’t know any better at the time) I used ‘the best spinner’ to spin articles and found that 99% of it was pure cr*p but I used it anyway [hangs head in shame...]

    In fact this has inspired me to write a blog post about my black hat days!

    Cheers,

    Rich

  10. [...] Existence of Substantive Unique Content on the Page.  Make sure all of your content is unique. Read my post about duplicate content. [...]

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