Twice as Nice: Navigating the SEO Maze with Duplicate Content

Twice as Nice: Navigating the SEO Maze with Duplicate Content - PSM Marketing

Duplicate content refers to blocks of content that appear in more than one place—that is, content that appears on multiple pages within a single website or across different websites. In the context of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), duplicate content can be problematic because it complicates a search engine’s job of indexing content and determining which version of the content is most relevant to a search query. 

Impact on SEO

Search engines like Google strive to provide the best user experience by delivering the most relevant content in their search results. When multiple instances of the same content exist, search engines must choose which version will most likely be the original or most authoritative. This can lead to several issues: 

  • Dilution of Link Equity: If other sites link to various versions of the same content, the link equity can be spread across these duplicates rather than consolidated in a single document, potentially lowering each piece’s ranking power. 
  • Confusion Over Which Version to Rank: Search engines might struggle to determine which version of the content to display in search results, which can affect the visibility of each version. 

Google’s Approach to Duplicate Content

Google’s approach to duplicate content is worth noting. Search engines have clarified that there is no specific penalty for duplicate content unless it appears to be an attempt at manipulation or deception. In cases where the duplication is not deceptive in origin, such as variations caused by URL parameters or printer-friendly versions, Google typically aggregates and ranks one of the versions while filtering out the others. This approach, while not a traditional penalization, can impact the appearance of all content in search results. 

What about Sending News Releases using a Media Distribution Service?

When a news release is distributed through a service like PR Newswire and appears on multiple news websites, it is considered duplicate content. However, search engines generally recognize this type of duplication as a common and legitimate practice—particularly in the case of press releases, which are intended for broad dissemination. 

Search engines like Google understand that press releases are distributed to multiple outlets to ensure wide coverage, and they are typically not penalized for being duplicate content in the same way that deceptive or manipulative duplications might be. Instead, search engines may choose which version of the content to index and rank, often giving preference to the version they consider the most authoritative or the original source. In many cases, the original version on a well-known press release distribution site like PR Newswire may be chosen as the canonical source. 

For SEO purposes, it’s important that the content is high-quality and provides value. If the release is purely promotional with little informational content, it might not rank as well regardless of duplication issues. Also, including unique content on your own website that discusses or elaborates on what’s in the press release can help distinguish your site’s content from the duplicated press release text found elsewhere. 

Best Practices and “New Rules”

Here are some strategies to use the same content on your firm’s website that may also be available in another online source – like an article you wrote for a publication – without harming your SEO: 

  1. Use Canonical Tags: If you post an article on your firm’s website and the same article appears in another publication, you can use a canonical link element on your site pointing to the original article on the original publication’s website (or vice versa, depending on which site you want to prioritize). This tells search engines which version is the “original” or preferred version to index. 
  2. Create Unique Landing Pages: For each article, create a landing page on your website that provides unique content about the article, perhaps an executive summary, additional insights, or commentary not included in the original article. Then, link the entire article to the publication’s website or the version you added to your site with a canonical tag. 
  3. Syndication Acknowledgement: If you’re publishing content that appears elsewhere, acknowledge the original source and clarify the syndication relationship. This transparency helps with users and search engines. 
  4. Timing: If possible, delay the reposting of the content on your firm’s website by a few days or weeks to allow the original source’s version to be indexed by search engines first. 

You can add articles to your firm’s website. Still, it’s essential to manage how this is done to maintain SEO benefits and respect the original publication’s audience and reach. Canonical tags and strategic content management are vital in handling duplicate content effectively. Need help with SEO? Contact the experts at PSM Marketing.

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