Duplicate Duplicate Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is something we tend to avoid like the plague. Unique and original is always better but are there any circumstances at all in which duplicate content is acceptable? Today I want to look a little bit at best practises for the use of quotes, news and press releases and how to keep yourself away from the Google duplicate content filter.

Quotes

The key here is to try and define the difference between quoting and copying. In a video on this topic by Matt Cutts, he explains that simply repasting someone else’s article or multiple articles and not doing any original content yourself is clearly NOT quoting. Google will not look favourably on this practise as it is essentially just scraping.
Matt recommends surrounding the quote with your own opinions, research or insights. Your perspective is what will make the content much more unique. As well as this you should keep your quotes short and mark them up with blockquote tags and provide a link back to the source of the quote.

If you are really worried about triggering Google’s duplicate content filter then you could also consider doing the following if you feel it is really necessary to include a quote:

-Including your quote as part of a meme/image
-Embedding Tweets and Videos with the quotes in
-Re-phrasing the quote and pointing back to the original

These ideas came from a fantastic blog post by Ann Smarty.

News

News is news. The way it plays out and the facts are the same, so how do you report the latest world happenings without Google seeing the content as duplicate? Think how you would feel as a user reading the exact, word for word, same story on multiple sites. Once is enough right? Unless… there is a unique angle or slant on the story which they are not going to get from any other website. This really is the key difference. I have just had a quick peek on the BBC news website and the headlining article for England is ‘Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Plant Set to Go Ahead’. Rather than just scraping or rehashing the whole story, report it from your own POV.

Another question to ask yourself is why would Google want to rank your pasting of the news story over someone else’s when it is exactly the same? Of course authority will play a part but you really need to give them a differentiator. If you are a business in the local area tell us how you expect this to affect your trade. If you are a person concerned with green issues then report on the environmental impact that this is expected to have. Think about what expertise you can add to the story or whether or not you can include a unique quote. The Hinkley Point business owner above who is writing about the nuclear plant story from a local business POV could gather a few quotes from local residents easily enough. No one else will have these particular quotes which will mean that their story will stand out from the plethora of others.

Press Releases

Press releases are a type of syndicated content which can be published by multiple sources. Many websites will have a press release section where they publish the latest news around a certain subject. The best thing to do when it comes to publishing press releases is to take the main facts or statistics from the original release and write the story yourself. It is very similar to the publication of news which we discussed above. Add your own unique angle to the press release in order to offer the user more value. In a recent video Matt Cutts tells us that Google are not only looking for original content but thoughtful curation of content. Put simply, it is caring about what is published on your site and making sure it is useful to your readers as opposed to just trying to get more pages indexed. It is retaining the power of decision making rather than relying on an automated feed.

The phrase that I keep hearing and seeing when I read around this subject is ‘value add’. Does your content add value to your user that they can’t get anywhere else whether it is a piece with quotes, a news story or a press release? In my opinion what it all boils down to is whether or not the user is happy because if the user is happy then Google is happy. If you set out to create an awesome piece of well researched and well written content to provide your users with useful information or enjoyment then you can’t go far wrong. The duplicate content filter is after those whose primary goal is SEO to the detriment of user experience.