With Google’s algorithms getting slicker by the day, there is nowhere to hide for the so-called ‘scrapers’ who copy content for their own purposes. For most white-hat SEO citizens, it can be hard to keep abreast of all the requirements needed for good SEO practice. If nothing else, remember this – duplicate content can ruin your traffic and ultimately harm your business. We explain why here.
Google Panda, the latest initiative into search rankings, places the emphasis on user experience. Google desires its search engine to be useful to produce relevant search results, in relation to the search term entered. In order to judge how positive a user’s experience of a website is, Google spiders will check to see if its content has been used elsewhere. If so, Google will give the page a lower rating, as it believes the website will not give the user a positive experience. Hence, if your content is not unique your website will automatically move lower down the rankings.
A few years ago, Google launched an initiative entitled ‘Query Deserves Freshness’. In a nutshell, this initiative was designed to promote websites containing up-to-date information, in response to the growth in popularity of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Subsequently, Google now uses a ‘Freshness’ criteria to determine how relevant a web page is. In order for websites to be considered relevant, they must constantly have unique and up-to-date content added. Duplicate content is clearly not current, as it has already been published elsewhere.
Duplicate content sends many signs to Google crawlers to say that the website in question is not reliable. Spiders will determine whether a website is trustworthy. Having duplicate content is a sign that the site has been put together either in haste, or without much thought. Both of these are indications that a site is indeed untrustworthy. Should Google reach this conclusion, the website in question will again slip down the SERPs.
A website with duplicate content is not considered ‘useful’ by Google crawlers, nor is it viewed as ‘likeable’, two other key criteria which must be met in order for your website to rank highly and hence drive traffic to your site.
In conclusion, duplicate content can ruin your traffic in several different ways. Firstly, it will not enhance user experience. Secondly, it will make your website appear to not be publishing relevant content. Thirdly, it will make your website seem untrustworthy and unlikeable. All of these factors will lead Google to rank your website lower and hence decrease your website’s visibility.
It makes sense therefore to ensure you use only good quality, unique content on your web pages.