Syndication or Duplicate Content?

Confused by syndicated content and duplicate content? Let’s take a closer look.

Think of a newspaper first — a newspaper printed on actual paper. Every town would have its own, and some of the local content would be original, but many of the stories would come from the Associated Press. There would be syndicated columnists like Dear Abby or Miss Manners and cartoons and crosswords familiar to readers across the nation.

If you moved to a town with two newspapers, you might the choose one with the comic strips and columnists you knew and loved from the paper you read back home. If no local paper had the New York Times crossword puzzle, you might have a copy of the Times mailed to you or pick one up when you were in a larger city.

Now, of course, we can read any columnist we like at any time by searching for him or her online. If you search for Miss Manners, you will be shown a selection of papers where you can read the columns of Judith Martin, followed by Martin’s own website:

missmanners

Now ask yourself a few questions:

  • Are you a syndicated columnist?
  • Do you want lists of newspapers carrying your columns or articles to be shown ahead of your website?
  • Do you actually want to write a press release?

If the answer to these questions is “no,” then you’re not really talking about syndicated content.

Google knows about syndicated content, and has a special way of dealing with it. Web content that gets reprinted all over the place is something else entirely. Google views these things as duplicate content.

You need to have Freakonomics in your local paper because you want to read it in your town just as much as I want to read it my town and if we like newspapers, that’s where we want to read it. If we look online for information, we don’t want to see the same article all down the search engine results page. We want a bunch of articles to choose from, and we want each article to contain fresh, new words and if possible fresh new ideas as well.

Google knows this and wants to make searchers happy, so Google will not show the same article repeatedly. They’ll decide which copy of the content is the most authoritative and show that.

You can force Google to show you multiple articles containing duplicate content by searching for a sentence:

duplicate

However, if we were to search for ADHD or even “living with ADHD,” we won’t see any of these.

So what does this mean for your website?

  • Don’t worry about some other website copying your content — Google simply shows the most authoritative source, and the original will almost always be the most authoritative.
  • Don’t copy other websites’ content. You never want to be the less authoritative source.

But what if you want to share your blog posts and have them reprinted elsewhere? There are reasons to do this. For example, you might like to help a new audience become more aware of your expertise. So if you share with a less-authoritative website, their regular readers will read your article, perhaps click through to the original post, and still see your article ahead of them in search. If you share with a much more authoritative site, they will probably show up in search results instead of you, but you might have some traffic from their site.

Note that we didn’t say there were good reasons for doing this.

If, instead of “syndicating” your article, you wrote an original guest post for the other site, you would not be affecting either your or their search results adversely. You would be providing something of value for their readers and increasing their chances of clicking through to your website — why, after all, should they click through “This article was first posted at…” since they will merely read the same article again?

Equally, if you routinely copy other website’s articles to your site, even with attribution, you will make it clear to Google that yours is a site without original content — that is to say, a less valuable website. Hard to see why you’d want to do that.

There is another use of the term “duplicate content.” This can also refer to the black hat technique of copying the same content into lots of pages on a website to make the site look bigger and more important. Like black hat techniques generally, this is entirely pointless for any legitimate business and it is not a source of controversy or confusion. Don’t do that, either.

Fresh, original content is what you need. There’s no substitute. We can help with that. Contact us to discuss your needs.


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