The Myth of the Duplicate Content Penalty

Posted on April 11, 2022 by Nikhil P Naik

There are nightmare stories about Google’s duplicate content penalty and what it means for a website hit with it. When it first came on the scene several years ago, website owners feared they would lose rankings because they didn’t know what constituted duplicate content. What if they accidentally had the same sentence as a competitor’s blog? What about the generic product descriptions sent by manufacturers used by dozens of sites on the Internet? We created this duplicate content penalty guide to help you understand and demystify it.

What Is Duplicate Content?

When Google talks about duplicate content, they’re not talking about small areas in a blog that happen to be like another. It’s more about large sections in a website or in comparison to another website that match or nearly match existing content. It’s estimated that 25 to 30 percent of the content on the web is considered duplicate. There are many reasons for this from people blatantly copying and pasting sections of one website into another, similar products within or across websites, and accidental duplication because of common wording on similar products.

It’s less of an issue with informational sites, but common with e-commerce sites. If you find someone that duplicated your content on purpose, then you can request removal based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

What Is the Duplicate Content Penalty?

You’re worried that your product descriptions might get you a manual penalty, but that isn’t how Google handles duplicate content. Your site won’t be hit with a manual penalty, but it may cause your rankings to drop. Google wants the best information for their customers and providing information that looks the same page after page in the search results doesn’t do that. Instead, they go after what they consider to be the primary source. They list it high and duplicate content lower, so people don’t get the same information. That’s the extent of the penalty. It only means lower rankings for those pages and not for your entire site.

Avoiding Duplicate Content

Now that we have debunked the duplicate content penalty myth, how can you avoid duplicate content and keep your pages at the top? The most obvious method is to create unique content for every page of your site. This is easy for smaller websites, but larger ones with thousands of products are difficult. Google doesn’t penalize for identical product descriptions, but that doesn’t mean having your own versus a canned manufacturer’s isn’t worth it. If you have several products on your site that are similar, consider canonical tags to choose the primary or put them together in a single listing. This keeps Google bots from becoming confused about which one to rank.

Blogs need to be unique content. There’s no reason for there to be duplicate content. This product helps with all digital marketing needs.

Don’t Worry About Duplicate Content

Unless you’re purposely duplicating content, Google likely isn’t penalizing your rankings. The duplicate content penalty isn’t as bad as you think, so focus on creating good unique content and you don’t have to worry about it. If you want more information about Google penalties, then please explore our site.

About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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