SEO Myth Busting: Duplicate Content
We’ve talked a LOT about guest posting over here on the Clapping Dog Media blog (including giving you a cheat sheet for perfect pitching spots, and a template for emailing editors!), so you might wonder if once you guest post you can use the same content for your own blog, or vice versa.
Well, today we’re busting all the myths (and maybe even a few rhymes) to give you the scoop on everything you need to know about duplicate content and how it affects SEO.
Before we even get started…
It’s important to double, triple check whether or not your guest posting outlet accepts duplicate content, or claims exclusive use. This is fairly common, although not everyone does this. So before you even start asking about how duplicate content can affect SEO, you need to be sure you know the specific outlet’s rules first.
Now, onto the myths!
Duplicate Content Myth #1:
Posting the exact same content in two places hurts SEO rankings for all involved.
False! Several examples have shown that the same exact article posted on multiple outlets will still show up in search for each outlet. You can see in our example that the author’s personal website, LinkedIn and Medium all showed up, and his own site came up first! Very interesting. You’d think that because Medium and LinkedIn are bigger sites that they would show up first, BUT because he probably has lots of backlinks to his site, he is seen as having the higher authority for this particular keyword. The truth is, even though this example uses the same body content, there’s still a lot more happening on each of those pages (like in the sidebar, comments, header, backend, etc) so it’s still not 100% duplicate content (even if it looks like that to us).
Keep a log of where you post certain articles, and double check the SEO on them from time to time. This will just take a minute or two to track, and if you do notice a drop in page rankings, you can pull the article from another site if you want. But ultimately you’re getting lots of eyes on your name, content, and possibly website, and getting high authority backlinks. So go for it!
Here’s one of our #SEOTruths:
Having relevant backlinks to your site is SEO gold.
So, If ranking for a specific topic/long tail keywords is your main goal, then a good strategy would be to write a long, in depth article on your own site, then a few weeks later, post similar versions on various other blogs (including Medium) and link back to the main article. You’re telling Google that you’re an authority on that topic, and after a while, you’ll start to rank for that. Gold, baby!
Duplicate Content Myth #2
Duplicate content is bad.
It’s complicated. (If you want to get super detailed on many factors involved in this, you can read the post over on the excellent Hobo Blog. If you want the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version of the answer on the equally excellent Clapping Dog Media blog, then keep reading)
Here’s the thing we’ve said over and over again: Google places a high price on web pages that provide value to their users. Therefore, for good SEO results, so should you.
Google has said over and over again that they don’t penalize duplicate content (which is good, because studies have shown that as much as 29% of the internet is duplicate content!). However, they also say that they do reward sites that provide additional value.
So what do you do?
Provide additional value. Always. Even if you’re posting the same piece across different outlets…is there something unique or additional you could add for that audience? Perhaps you just add an additional paragraph
No matter what you’re doing, be sure to add value. Give people a reason to be on that particular page, even if the bulk of the content is the same.
Duplicate Content Myth #3:
Duplicate content happens when one blog post is posted on 2-3 sites.
False! When Google talks about duplicate content, they’re talking about extreme spam, like thousands of copies of the exact same thing. As the Google Webmaster says, “duplicate content happens all the time”, and as long as you’re not keyword stuffing or being spammy, it’s ok.
Focus on the quality of your content. Be sure you’re not keyword stuffing or posting a single piece more than a few times, and you’re in the clear. The key here is quality, not quantity, as always.
Duplicate Content Myth #4:
Duplicate content (so-called, see myth #3) has the same impact on new sites vs established sites with high authority.
Nope! If your site is brand new, we highly recommend that you take some time to create 100% original content. That is, content that isn’t posted anywhere else. But here’s the good news: you can adapt a post you’ve already written and publish it somewhere else to give you backlinks, and eventually, higher authority. Because if you have a new website, you’re probably strapped for time with your new endeavor, so who has time to write all new blog posts every week! We love this tip from Kissmetrics to “write the evil twin”. What does this mean? Basically, adapt your post to be the opposite of whatever you wrote in the first place. For example, say you wrote a “how to” post, then adapt it to be a “what NOT to do”. For us, we could adapt this post be “Four Surprising Truths about Duplicate Content and SEO” (in fact, we just might do that!).
Here’s the trick to this: if you’re adapting a piece of content, don’t be lazy about it and just change a few words or the title. Be sure to truly adapt the piece, and come at it from a different angle. You’ll save time in research and the bulk of the writing, but your goal should be to
If your site is new or has low authority in Google’s eyes, then take some time to build your backlink structure, original content, and authority. You can use this tool to find your authority score to determine if this is you.
So, what do you think? Do you feel comfortable posting your content on multiple sites like Medium, Reddit, LinkedIn? From what we can tell today (things are always changing, so check current data), this strategy of reposting content across multiple outlets can be helpful for getting great backlinks and traffic to your site, but only if it comes with adding additional value.
“The Googlebot visits most sites every day. If it finds a copied version of something a week later on another site, it knows where the original appeared. Googlebot doesn’t get angry and penalize. It moves on. That’s pretty much all you need to know.” —Kissmetrics Blog
SEO takes work, but it’s only a little bit of work for a lot of results. Use these tips to drive traffic, and as always, continue to check your SEO rankings by Googling yourself, hiring the expert, and googling your desired keywords.
Let us know how this goes friends! We’re cheering you on,
Xo, Clapping Dog Media Team