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Duplicate Website Content - A way to harm your Rankings

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Please note: This article was first published in January 2007. Since that time, Google has taken new measures to deal with duplicate website content. Click here to find out more.

One of the issues IceGiant’s team frequently needs to address with new clients, is that of excessive duplicate web site content.

While to a fair proportion of web designers in the past, any old content was good enough to ‘bulk up’ a site’s page count, this approach is now landing an increasing number of webmasters and online business owners in hot water with the major search engines.

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So what exactly is classified as Duplicate Web Site Content?

Put quite simply, duplicate content is text which is replicated in its entirety or in part elsewhere on the Internet or even within the same web site.

The trouble is that this whole topic contains many grey areas which have been known to cause confusion and be open to misinterpretation. Reading through the following points should give you a fair idea of which practices are likely to be penalised by search engines and which you may safely employ without search engines calling down the thunder on your site.

Just how much duplication is dangerous? Some descriptions on my site are fairly close to others.
Although there is no such thing as a right and wrong percentage, the accepted level of unique content which renders any given web page ‘unique’ in a search engine’s eyes is around 70% to 75%; anything less and you’re venturing into the realms of duplicate web site content. However; before you unpack your calculator and begin weighing up just exactly how much content you can safely copy from other sources, ask yourself the following question: “Will reproduced content really provide the level of information my visitors expect?

After all, your site’s visitors are its true judges. You may well succeed with search engines yet fail miserably with your human audience. Past experience shows that it is usually best to include as much unique content as humanly possible when designing and managing a commercial web site.

My web designer told me to supply him with content for my new site. Is it ok to just reproduce articles and editorial from trade press publications?
This would not be a good idea. Quite apart from the obvious copyright infringement implications, it is quite likely that this type of content has already been reproduced elsewhere, not least on the trade magazine’s own web site. The watchwords in this case are “Authority Site” and “Credibility”.

Since the aim of the game these days is to build up a reputation as an authority in your field, duplicate web site content of this nature is likely not only to get the page(s) in question tagged as duplicate, but also to seriously harm the overall credibility of whatever resources they are attached to.


This article is continued on page two ‘Duplicate Content - A Short Reference’, please click here.

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