“Recycle, repurpose and reuse” typically applies to lifestyle choices and being kinder to our earth, but did you know this could also apply to your content? Savvy marketers know how to “recycle” and re-create their existing information to make it fresh and new again in the eyes of their readers and potential customers. Though a smart content creation idea, recycling content is a delicate dance. Before you spend time refreshing and rewriting your existing content, there are some “duplicate content” facts you should know about.
Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely matches other content, or is very similar. In the past, I have always been lead to believe that there was a “mythical percentage” when it came to duplicate content. “It must be 20% unique” or “your content needs to be at least 47% unique to not be considered duplicate…” and so on. But from what I have recently read and gathered, the mythical percentage does not come into play at all. The algorithms that measure content uniqueness are so much more complicated and sophisticated than an exact percent of what is, and what isn’t, duplicate content. In reality, the search engines use a wide range of input to make their determination.
One of the best descriptions (with examples) I found was within an article by The Moz Blog. Here’s an excerpt:
“Sites like Bloomberg and Business Week are constantly producing the same articles. Business Insider will produce articles from all over the place. Huffington Post will take articles from places that writers submit, and it’ll be published in different places. People will publish on one site, and then they’ll publish privately on their own blog. Sometimes Google will list both, sometimes they won’t. It’s not about a percentage. It’s about the unique value that’s provided, and it’s about a very sophisticated algorithm that considers lots of other features.”
Remember the whole Google Panda debacle in 2011? “Panda” was a change to Google’s search results ranking algorithm that was designed to lower the rank of “low-quality sites” or “thin sites,” and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results. What this meant for many sites that had crappy (low quality) content and tons of duplication within their site was that their content dropped to the basement level of Google’s searches. So if someone was to repost already existing content to their site with zero changes, it’s very plausible that the Google Panda algorithm would see it and think, “Hmmm, this information and site looks like it copied some stuff….” Recycling and repurposing content is still a viable option, but it’s one that could hurt your rankings in other places if not done properly. Because this is such a deep topic, the best advice I can give you is to do your research and read up on the work-arounds Google Webmaster suggests, which include things like canonicalization and noindex meta tags. The last thing you want to do is make your site hard to find because Google penalized you for duplicate content.
Here are ways to avoid the duplicate content ding:
- Refresh an old post instead of completely re-posting it from the archives and trying to pass it off as new. Dress it up, add to it, and promote it from its original place on your blog or site.
- Don’t use previously published information as a guest post somewhere else. Not only does it confuse readers and search engines, since it’s already been published elsewhere, it is in fact duplicate content.
- When creating content, create your own “slant” or voice on the topic instead of plagiarizing or copying large portions of text from somewhere else. If using an excerpt (like above), typically content creators are allowed to use 50-300 words of another article without being penalized for duplicate content.
Final Note: When Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, was asked about duplicate content, he had this to say; “I wouldn’t stress about this unless the content that you have duplicated is spammy or keyword stuffing.”
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