Attack of the Clones – Google Targets Duplicate Content

In Copywriting by Marius Badenhorst

As Google matures even further via sophisticated updates to the algorithm and all the anarchy that causes, so too does it put itself in a better position to get what it wants. What Google wants to do now is curtail duplicate content; it has the means and the desire to do so. There are many reasons, be it ignorance or something more sinister, that duplicate content gets published online but if you have SEO aspirations in mind it will hurt you. Here are some example of how duplicate content gets published:

  • A company uses a single piece of PR across a variety of sites.
  • Articles containing prolific quotes and unique names are cited exhaustively
  • A site doesn’t embed a line of copy in the boiler plate and uses that copy across multiple pages.

However in all of these cases, for better or worse, Google is going to find that duplicate content and penalise it.

The latest trend Google is shutting down is the use of article spinners. Article spinners proved useful for exhausted outsourced writers who would take an article and process it in such a way that enough synonyms and enough changes to the structure of an article would rend the finished product just different enough to confuse the crawlers that this copied article was unique enough to be considered such. However in most cases the product was unintelligible to users and that proved to be quite a mess to sort through vital information that was sorely needed; this used to work in tricking search engines that a site had more original content that it had – not anymore.

Matt Cutts explains that now the definition of duplicate content extends to new articles that offer nothing new to the table. That is to say articles that mirror others are fair game, but they should not expect to rank because this type of content is now a Google no-no. The algorithm is now ready to take aim and destroy these duplication processes and more.

This makes writing original content from one’s own experience key and that is the challenge. If you’re a company trying to rank for a service that others offer, what unique perspective can you bring to the web and if you can’t answer that then it’s perhaps time to approach an outside source that can dissect the industry and find your unique selling point. It could be a different philosophy of business, being located in an area with little competition or even just presenting your case in a style unique to your selling points. Either way, this means that more consideration will have to be taken when approaching onsite content, PRs and other copywriting your company may require.

In the words of Matt Cutts when advising any prospective companies with content based strategies, “They need to ask themselves what really is their value add? That does not mean they cannot create something that works, but they need to figure out what it’s that makes them special.”

About the Author

Marius Badenhorst