In a recent webmaster help video by Google’s Matt Cutts, he has addressed the topic of duplicate content on websites. Webmasters dread the consequences of such content, and since a long while there has been a general perception in the SEO world that even a little duplicate content will hurt your website’s rankings. But in the video, Matt Cutts said otherwise. He outlined what duplicate content really is, how much duplicate content is OK by Google, and how much actually hurts the website.
“It’s important to realize that if you look at content on the web, something like 25 or 30 percent of all of the web’s content is duplicate content. … People will quote a paragraph of a blog and then link to the blog, that sort of thing. So it’s not the case that every single time there’s duplicate content it’s spam, and if we made that assumption the changes that happened as a result would end up probably hurting our search quality rather than helping our search quality,” said Mr. Cutts.
Google has, in the recent years, grown increasingly wary of providing the best user experience to its visitors and thus would not want the copy of the same content on its first page. This is because if one website does not solve the query of what the users is looking for, then he/she surely does not want to click on another link and find the exact same content.
“Google looks for duplicate content and where we can find it, we often try to group it all together and treat it as of it’s just one piece of content. So most of the time, suppose we’re starting to return a set of search results and we’ve got two pages that are actually kind of identical. Typically we would say, “OK, rather than show both of those pages since they’re duplicates, let’s just show one of those pages and we’ll crowd the other result out,” and then if you get to the bottom of the search results and you really want to do an exhaustive search, you can change the filtering so that you can say, “OK, I want to see every single page” and then you’d see that other page. But for the most part, duplicate content isn’t really treated as spam. It’s just treated as something we need to cluster appropriately and we need to make sure that it ranks correctly, but duplicate content does happen,” Mr. Cutts noted.
He also said that duplicate content becomes spam when original content is scrapped off from a website and posted in masses all over the web. “It’s certainly the case that if you do nothing but duplicate content, and you are doing in an abusive, deceptive, malicious, or a manipulative way, we do reserve the right to take action on spam. So someone on Twitter was asking a question about “how can I do an RSS auto blog to a blog site and not have that be viewed as spam,” and the problem is that if you are automatically generating stuff that is coming from nothing but an RSS feed, you’re not adding a lot of value, so that duplicate content might be a little bit more likely to be viewed as spam,” he added.
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