Thou shalt not Duplicate Content: 3 Easy Tips Avoid It

by Shawn Graaff February 24th, 2011 


30,000 websites are launched each day. Google processes over 20 petabytes per day of sheer data: how do you make your web site stand out?

Search Engines don't want the same thing for dinner, so your site better be dishing up some interesting content for supper or no one will be sticking around for dessert. Duplicate content isn't on the menu.

What Duplicate Content?

Content that is taken from other websites and generally copy/pasted onto another page. Or perhaps a discussion forum that has been quoting previous entries to ensure continuity. The content can only be duplicate if it appears to entirely replicate or closely replicate content elsewhere within that site or elsewhere on the internet.

How do I avoid it?

Search Engines care about the words and syntax of the content, not necessarily the ideas, concepts, or spirit of the content. Your site wont be penalized if you saw an article on How to sell a house online elsewhere and wrote one as well; they do care, however, if you take blocks of text from an article, like a sentence or paragraph, jumble any of the same text to try to subvert it, or just copy/paste the text from that site to yours.

Best advice

Often people launching sites have very little time to write 40 pages of content for a web site. Typically they are small business owners or the in-house marketing professional for the larger corporation, or even worse, the IT department (never let them write anything other than code!).

The best advice you can get to avoid duplicate content is to pay a professional writer to write it all for you. There are plenty of people, either freelance or within a digital agency, who write professional web copy and site content for a fair price.

Get a few quotes and samples of work for your site specifically and see how they measure up to your standards.

Better advice

Write it yourself.

Set aside an hour a night to write your content.

Get your URLs all lined up and make summaries of what you want each page to have on it and then slowly plug away at it. You can start writing content as soon as youve even decided to have a website so it doesnt get held up in development.

Start thinking about articles and ideas you want to include on your site, your services probably wont change even if your site lay out does, so start writing it all, save it, and then have it ready to be uploaded the very next day from the completion of the development of the site.

Even better advice

Write the content yourself and then pay a professional proof-reader to edit the content for you. Poor grammar does not evoke confidence in your site, regardless of what business or niche you are in.

Fundamentally, you know best what you want your site content to consist of. Invest a little bit of money to get better presentation and better SEO results, and never, ever, ever think about duplicating content, your site will thank you for this!

Shawn Graaff

Shawn Graaff is the Content Manager for a Cape Town based digital media agency specializing in Search Engine Optimization.

You May Also Like

7 Responses to “Thou shalt not Duplicate Content: 3 Easy Tips Avoid It”

  1. Tanner says:

    In a nutshell, you nailed it.

    If you really want to rank well for your content, write it yourself and have a professional look it over. There's really no better way to go about content creation these days.

  2. Bjorn says:

    I have started on a theme directory, and I have a hard time avoiding duplicates. When listing features usally lots of the same phrases come on different themes.

    • Shawn says:

      From an SEO perspective, it is okay to have those features, simply mix the duplicated content with some original content, perhaps in an intro, and it will be fine.

      From a content perspective, if you want the listings to not only be SEO friendly but also virally enabled, be sure to use original only as people are far more inclined to pass on information if it's 'new' to them than if it's stuff that could appear elsewhere.

      Regarding theme directories, the easiest way to avoid a duplication penalty is to reword the intermixing content. However there are other ways that are quite SEO intensive, I think SEP can advise more on a solution.

      Thanks for the positive feedback!

  3. Writing it yourself is good but for those for whom writing is the enemy it may not be as easy. Indeed you can outsource content writing but you need to wary as well. Nowadays content spinners are in abundance and you still need to make sure that what you get passes muster. I write and I make sure I don't see those things I wrote before because like it or not you will mentally follow it even if you try not to. It is difficult to try to not have duplicates.

  4. sarita says:

    Thanks for this post Shawn.

    it really is common sense to not duplicate content.

    daily life offers so many topics to write about, and when i get idea i have to make notes straight away, so when i get round to writing the article i remember the reasons i wanted to write about it in the first place.

  5. Ryan Parr says:

    Appreciate the article, but I gotta say it has nothing to do with SEO. You just wrote an article about "Different options to create text for your website and mistakes to avoid."
    What would have been helpful is if the article you wrote above was actually your spin on an actual article with that title you grabbed somewhere on the web and you taught us how you modified it not only to satisfy Google, but also how to avoid plagiarism. ( ;
    But that's the whole point, there really is no way to do that, Google or not, and feel you are not doing something wrong, somewhere.

  6. Kirsty says:

    I have seen numbers of site that have duplicate content but I think this issue is most famous for blogs. The best thing to avoid this is to create a unique post or rewrite the article you wanted to pos. At least it won't be a look a like post :)