How to avoid duplicate content penalties on your Blog

Duplicate content? Very naughty. Doesn't help your Technical PR, Engineering PR, Industrial PR, Manufacturing PR or Electronics PR campaign at all.It’s well known that search engines (in particular Google) apply quite heavy penalties to Web sites and Blogs that feature duplicate content. This can be as severe as losing your first page listing and re-appearing ten or so pages lower in some cases. So, I thought I would take a look at ways to navigate this online hazard as part of your technical PR campaign.

But first a definition; Google doesn’t actually use the phrase ‘duplicate content penalty’ itself, but it does apply penalties for scraping content from other sites or pages and re-publishing it and for re-publishing content without adding any value. There is also the possibility that you won’t be ‘penalised’ by Google but rather that Google will choose the content on the site that you duplicate (or that duplicates you) as the original and best version and thus rank it higher and your site, often substantially, lower.

This means that you can, for instance, quote a section of text on your site within an article, but you are better off not re-publishing that article in its entirety. In the same way, you are better of not offering your own content for republication elsewhere unless you expect it to be re-written when you do so. So, for instance, you are fine re-writing a technical page of your site as an article for a magazine, especially as the magazine will probably re-write it slightly before publication anyway.

But what should you do to avoid duplicate content?
The first step is to find out if you already have duplicate content on your site. An easy way to do this is to use one of the several online services designed to help, such as http://www.copyscape.com/.

Once you’ve established whether any duplicate content exists the next step is to get rid of it, providing it isn’t part of another element of your marketing strategy. For example, you might find that press releases in your press office or on your Blog show up as duplicate content, as could articles you have produced for the media and so on. In these cases, you might make the decision to leave the content there and accept the penalty. This is a good reason to establish your press office as a micro site or Blog; that way the micro site can take the duplicate content penalties, leaving your main site untouched.

If you find duplicate content that isn’t there for a good reason, you should get rid of it. This could mean removing a Blog from a catalogue that re-publishes content, asking suppliers to remove or re-write duplicate pages on their Web sites (or re-writing it for them) or as a worst case scenario taking down pages from your own site.

Once the duplicate content is removed, you will find that your site will gradually rise up the rankings into its ‘natural’ position. You don’t really need to re-submit your site for further consideration, as most search engines will visit your site regularly anyway. But bear in mind, you may have to wait a while to see the full effect.

The next and most important step is to start creating content that is unique and original to you, placing it on well optimised pages on your own site and then promoting those pages using off page SEO and other marketing techniques.

If you do this, you will find you that quite elegantly avoid loss of ranking due to these problems; whether Google calls them ‘duplicate content penalties’ or not.

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Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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