For a few years, Google’s position on duplicate content has been that ‘they won’t penalize you’ for having it on your web site. Good thing, because this week Matt Cutts revealed a statistic that might—or perhaps it won’t—sound shocking: 30% of all content on the Internet is duplicate content.
As I said: you might find that statistic shocking, perhaps even more so than this story about over 60% of all traffic on the Internet being generated by bots.
There are a few questions here that matter, not the least of which is what, exactly, duplicate content is. Does Google see duplicate content as exact-match-only, and if so over what span? Surely, “one word” can’t be right. Is duplicate content three identical words strung together? Five? Fifteen? Or maybe exact match isn’t the measure of duplicate content—or not the only way Google and other search engines judge duplication in content. Maybe Google is smart enough—or dumb enough—to look at the nine frogs in the picture above and see nine duplicates.
So let’s get back to the good news: there’s no search engine optimization penalty for duplicate content. And tying Matt Cutts’ 30% duplicate content statistic together with something I noticed and told you about almost four years ago—that my news feeds are polluted by
duplicate identical content being delivered by supposedly trustworthy sources—maybe that’s a good thing; there’s just too much content for Google to really know how to rank it all, and without editors doing that ranking manually the identification of duplicate content will always come down to the efficacy of Google’s Artificial Intelligence algorithms.
The one thing Google says that’s looking more and more trustworthy as the content wars escalate is this: the best optimization is the kind you do by creating great content. You can’t just throw garbage at the wall any longer, but because the whole duplicate content thing is being monitored by computer algorithms and not editors there are optimization tricks that work. We can talk about those, if you like. And tomorrow I’m going to show you the perfect storm of optimization in real content, duplicate or otherwise, to illustrate how important the correct mix of techniques is in achieving Influency.
Until then, I leave you with this: as Mr. Cutts has told us before, when it comes to managing duplicate content, the only real answer is I Think You’ll Be OK.