Duplicate Content Is Not Spam. Here’s Why According To Google

Duplicate Content Is OkDuplicate Content Is Ok!

Duplicate content happens on the web all the time. Some of it’s unintentional, some of it is necessary, and some of it is stolen.

Google has and will continue to penalize some types of duplicate content, but believe it or not, Google understands that duplicate content happens on the web all the time.

This Google support page defines duplicate content as:

“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin. Examples of non-malicious duplicate content could include:

+ Discussion forums that can generate both regular and stripped-down pages targeted at mobile devices

+ Store items shown or linked via multiple distinct URLs

+ Printer-only versions of web pages

However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.”

A Quarter of the Web’s Content is Duplicate

In a video published yesterday, Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts, says “something like 25-30% of all of the web’s content is duplicate content”.

He goes on to say “duplicate content does happen…it’s not the case that every single time there’s duplicate content it’s spam.”

Having said that, if your website is publishing nothing but duplicate content and you’re doing it in an abusive, deceptive, malicious, or manipulative way, Google does reserve the right to take action on spam. The key is to add significant value to the duplicate content that you’re republishing.

For the most part, Cutts says there’s no need to stress over duplicate content on your website. Google doesn’t treat non malicious duplicate content as spam. They view it as normal.

That’s great to hear but the question clearly becomes, how does Google rank all that duplicate content in the SERPs?

Google will only want to serve up one or two of those pages in the search results so if your site doesn’t get chosen, you may have been penalized or at least think you were. Or maybe not.

I’m still not 100% clear on what metrics the algorithm uses when choosing to rank duplicate pages, but suffice to say, if your content is relevant, useful, and is being shared via social media networks , you stand a much better chance that your content, duplicate or not, will be chosen to rank when others will not.

In the video below, Cutts explains how Google deals with these duplicate pages and chooses which one to show in the SERPs. Apparently, Google takes all the duplicate content and groups the pages into a cluster. The algorithm then chooses which are the best results in the cluster, and pics one to show in search results.


Have you ever stressed about duplicate content on your website? I’d love to hear your story. Please share it in the comments below.