Duplicate Content Penalty – How to Lose Google Ranking Fast

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Duplicate Content Penalty – How to Lose Google Ranking Fast

Duplicate content penalty. Ever heard of it? This penalty is applied by Google and possibly other search engines when content found on your website is largely the same as what is found elsewhere on your site or on other websites across the internet.

Search engine spam has been common ever since search engines were first invented. Search engine spam describes the practice of making changes to your website that gets you listed high in search engines at the expense of readability by humans. Years ago, you could get ranked high on a search term simply by repeating it as many times as possible in a document. The primitive search engines of the past ranked the importance of a keyword simply by counting the number of times a term appeared on a page. Today’s search engines are much more complex.

Google has been waging war against all kinds of search engine spam and especially against duplicate content in all forms. There are two main types of duplicate content that Google is concerned about.

The first is a website that simply lists the very same page hundreds or thousands of times with simply a few words changed. This is usually done to attain high ranking on a wide range of keywords. It is most often used to get ranked high on a whole bunch of keywords unrelated to your website but can sometimes be done by a site that is on topic but simply offering duplicate content.

The second type of duplicate content that Google is concerned about revolves around affiliate programs. It has been common practice for high traffic websites to establish an affiliate program. Affiliate programs themselves don’t worry Google. What it doesn’t like though, is for an affiliate program to take a template and then offer it to its base of affiliates to use. Some of the higher traffic websites end up with thousands upon thousands of duplicate websites all promoting the very same things and, according to Google, not offering any real value to the internet community. A website offering this type of cookie cutter website can easily find themselves de-listed by Google as happened to Template Monster a while back.

The third type of duplicate content is simply not included in the Google index. This is content that is found elsewhere on the internet at large. Google and the other major search engines are interested in gathering and cataloging as much quality, unique content as possible for human consumption. To this end, they look to minimize the amount of duplicate content they allow in their index. This is why creating a new website and simply filling it with third part content will rarely if ever result in high rankings in the Google index.

The solution? Don’t rely on duplicate content as your main method of driving traffic to your site. Should you avoid all duplicate content? Of course not. What kind of duplicate content is acceptable? Answering this question is easily another article in itself.

Columnist Joe Duchesne is the co-founder of http://www.yowling.com. Yowling offers an easy to use web site builder that lets you create a professional website in no time at all for as little as $21 a month.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Carson

    So what about ezine articles or syndicated articles – do these need to be avaided? I think that there is some utility in compiling syndicated content into one easily accessible site – especially if no other site is doing it on that subject matter.

    • Jay

      Don’t listen to this guy, THERE IS NO DUPLICATE CONTENT PENALTY.

      The only time a website will be penalized for duplicate content is if the web master published the same content more than once on his/her own domain.

      It is more than ok to publish ezine articles on your site, just don’t expect them to rank and bring you traffic.

      • Umar

        Dear Jay,
        Last night i have written duplicate post in my website but google didnt index it, so i again written same post after deleting first post and then after some time google indexed both same posts and after that i saw my all rankings dropped suddenly from 1st page to 10 page and most of the posts are not showing in SECRP….is the same issue with mine u have replied above???if yes then please suggest me what is the solution for it??i am waiting of your reply…thanks

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  • azlan

    my first time here and this article has made me decided to come back soon for more of your interesting content.. great work..

    Online Business with a kampung boy

  • Andrew

    One of my blog posts was copied word-by-word. Now the duplicate on the plagiators’ site is ranking higher on Google than the original. Why doesn’t the duplicate content penalty kick in?

    • A.Myers Kennedy

      I have a similar situation to Andrew…I am an author and do article submission…one of my articles was up for approval in the article directory and they contacted me to say I plagarized this other guys site…they conveniently gave me a link and the truth was that the other guy stole my article off of another article site and posted it as his own blog…his post ran one week after my article hit the web….now I am under review for suspension and the “other guy” should be getting google slapped.

  • Rick

    because google isnt realy that smart. I had the same problem. Someone copied like 50% of the content of a website i made and he got highter on google than my website πŸ™

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  • Domain Structure

    The duplicate content penalty does not exist.. to an extent.

    “There’s no such thing as a “duplicate content penalty.” At least, not in the way most people mean when they say that.”

    With that being said they also note that such a penalty does exist but only under certain sitations. An example that would get you penalised for duplicate content is as follows.

    – If you are caught leaching or scraping information from other sites and republish it without adding any additional value to the information.

    – Don’t create multiple pages.. subdomains.. or domains with substantially duplicate content.

    – Avoid… “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.

    – If your site participates in an affiliate program make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

    “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results. If your site suffers from duplicate content issues, and you don’t follow the advice listed above, we do a good job of choosing a version of the content to show in our search results.”

    You can read more about it @ http://www.domainstructure.com/2008/09/duplicate-content-penalty/

    and also @ http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/09/demystifying-duplicate-content-penalty.html

    • naveen_r6

      Google's Webmaster Central has options to check the duplicate meta tags, short metas and titles. You can correct the duplicate data by signing in to web master

  • Internet marketing tips

    What about submitting the same article to multiple article locations? Will this result in google seeing that as “duplicate” content?

  • Small Business Website Marketing

    This is a helpful article. I guess it’s best to use eZine articles sparingly and rewrite any private label articles completely?

  • Alex

    No one has responded to Carsons questions regarding e-zine articles. There are also other websites such as seekingalpha.com which simply recreate the same content published on other blogs but they do add value as they help discover great blogs and authors…

    How do they get away from duplicate content penalty

  • james

    In regards to the duplicate content part of this blog post, I personally use the http://www.copygator.com website to find and stop duplicate content:

    1. it’s automated and brings me results instead of me searching for duplicated content. All i had to do was submit my feed and it started monitoring my feed showing me who’s republished my articles on the web.

    2. i get notified by email so it contacts me when it finds copies of my articles online.

    3. i use their image badge feature to alert me directly on my website when my content is being lifted.

    4. it’s a free service as opposed the “per page” cost of copyscape/copysentry.

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  • Cris

    How to modify page after duplicate content penalty?

  • Engineering Salesman

    Duplicate content is an issue which has concerned me for some while. I put up articles on ezinearticles dot com and some of them have been reproduced widely. I’d like to know if this is hurting my PR. Can anyone tell me

  • selva

    check the duplicate content

  • pike lures

    I found out that my website had 13 duplicated metas. That was “ghost” pages, pages which I had changed the url names. I changed them because i changed title of the page and the url too.I though those pages would disappear but they stayed indexed as “ghost” pages,empty pages without content only template and ads.But the worst thing of all, google added my home meta to all of them,making 13 duplicated pages. I didnt realize it for many months,suffering a huge penalty.

  • Jacob

    Personally I don’t think google will “hurt” your website for dup cotnent, HOWEVER I do think it will not count it as a positive, and if your site is mostly made up of that and you are relying on the dupe content for keyword density it is not going to work well. Dupe content is everywhere, on news sites, forums, comments, syndications, rss…

  • biz

    I do occasionally publish my articles on isnare and ezine articles? Should I stop doing this?

  • Peter Nisbet

    There is no penalty. Nowhere does Google mention a ‘Duplicate Content Penalty’ so Biz, you can continue to submit your articles to iSnare and Ezine Articles and the other 500 to which I submit mine by means of syndication and direct submissions.

    Google will list the pages that are most relevant to the keyword, and if one web page is more relevant than another, even though it has copied your content , Google will rank it higher. There is an element of ‘pre-publication’, but that doesn’t mean the page on which content was first published will be listed higher.

    No web page is penalized: it is simply not given credit for the content, whether it be an entire affiliate website provided for you and 10,000 others to use or a single article on an article directory.

    In fact, if you submit an article to 100 directories, and it is published on them all, you will get credit for 100 links to start with. That will then gradually decrease, theoretically to one after a few months, but if you submit one each week, you will receive more links than are lost, and gradually build up a good PageRank and Google listing irrespective of ‘duplicate content’.

    Google likes content on Article directories, so appears to me to be taking a lenient view. This is all throrugh practice and what happens with me, and I submit many articles each week for clients that help them to achieve high listing positions.

    My own site is at #1 and #2 – Google ‘article services’ and find out what multiple directory submissions can do for you!


    • Florence

      You're right, it is mentioned in Google blog clearly; no penalty in duplicate content, in fact better if additional info is found on that page!

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  • Karen

    Very helping article.

    Thanks – Karen
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Vector Calendar Graphics =-.

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  • frank www.travelmastery.com

    Well, I think people shouldn’t copy things, its wrong!
    Like i got a hiking website, and its hard to make content.
    You need to work hard!

  • James Stein

    There is no duplicate content penalty at all.. This is a proven fact! I am sorry but having articles on many sites is called syndication and it does not hurt your ranking at all, matter fact it increases your ranking and no you do not lose your rank slowly.

    I wish people would stop spreading this myth around, it is really old… I have proven mant many times over and so has many others that you can actually dominate google with the same articles posted on many different sites. You can also take up several places in the top position using your same content on the same site.


  • Jay

    Hey, I found your site from Google. I do have a question. I was blogging on wordpress dot com. Recently, I switched to a custom domain. I wanted to move my content with me. The dilemma: I wanted to move the content to the new website, but I didn’t want to erase the posts on the old site because many of the posts had inbound links/page rank.

    Is it likely that my new blog will get a penalty for having some of the old content ported in?

  • Sonal

    I am running http://www.codventure.com. I submitted my website to google adsense and google revert me back with error “Unconsidered site content”. after getting this error. I changed content and checked individual sentence of my article by putting in google search engine. I didnot get any duplicate sentence. again I submitted to adsense but I got same error.
    Please anybody check my website and tell me what’s the problem

  • John Webster

    How will this affect sites like real estate mini-sites that duplicate information like houses for sale in a listing. Will google penalize these sites for having the same content?

    • James Stein

      Google does not give any penalty for dup content.. This is a myth and yes even if it is on your own site. All and I do mean all dynamic built sites that use seo’ed url’s have dup content. Because the fact is there is a Raw Url and A SEO Url leading to the same exact content.


      Raw url: http://www.mydomain.com/article.php?item=0123

      SEO’ed url: http://www.mydomain.com/my-seo-keywords-1427

      Both lead to the same exact article and yes both can be indexed at the same exact time and show in the same exact results.

      Dup Content Penalty is a myth no matter how you look at it …


  • Yves

    A helpful article, thanks. I had no idea they penalized sites for that.

    But what IS acceptable duplication? My company has a site that has an “old version” and “new version” placed in different directories, both of which are still up and neither with a no-index tag. Information from the old version is carried over to the new version, with different formatting, layout, and added information, but still entire paragraphs are copied (sometimes with a little re-wording). Is that acceptable?

    I’d remove the old version, but my boss doesn’t like the word “remove” or “delete”, and wants to keep the old pages as a sort of archive. Besides a few of the old pages are already ranked well in Google and it would be a shame to just drop them.

    • James Stein

      Yves – I own an article directory and I also have seveal blog installed on the same domain and those blogs take the summaries of those articles and creates post on the blog. So thus I have duplicate summaries and links going to the original article.

      I have been doing this for a very long time and my article directory gets top listings and the traffic is pretty darn good..

      I see no problem with what you have.. What google is concerned about is you trying to manipulate the search engines, you are not doing this. You have an old version for lower end users (dialup or whatever) and a new version with more content for higher end users (maybe dsl) …


      • naveen_r6

        Google's Webmaster Central has options to check the duplicate meta tags, short metas and titles. You can correct the duplicate data by signing in to web master

  • David

    Should I first post an article on my site and then submit it to directories? Or write seperate articles for my site and for directories? Can't find an answer anywhere.

    • website_builders

      Personally, I tend to submit a substantially rewritten version of my articles to directories, while posting a longer and more substantial version on my site.

      I would avoid submitting exactly the same article to several sites as the links from these links will disappear over time. Prior to this, I have had an article rejected by ezine articles because someone had taken a copy from a directory and used it without attribution.

      Get yourself a copy of a an article spinner such as rapidrewriter. Note that while you have to create variations of your sentences and choose synonyms from its thesaurus (or add yours), it does a great job of spinning these into hundreds of different versions which are rated under 4 percent duplicate and you will therefore avoid being “penalised”.

      One advantage of this is that your articles will be both be grammatically correct and make perfect sense since you write them sentence for sentence and the spinner just varies which sentences and synonyms are chosen for a particular version of your article.

      • David

        thanks for the info!

  • Miguel


    A client have both a blog on blogger and a website with a self-hosted WordPress.
    The posts are published first on blogger and a “selection” (about 30%) is posted later in the WP site.
    There are more than 2000K posts on the blog with rich, unique content. He's a professional writer and post daily. But the blogger is very hard to do SEO. The blog have only 400 pageviews at most. The site also dont get much visitors.
    My question is : there as a penalty ? Only a single top post in my other website ( same domain, other WP) get daily 3x more than the 650 articles site.
    Theres no evidence of pagerank drop…

  • David

    thanks for the info!

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  • buythiscomputer

    Of course there is penalty and Google is often retarded…

    People denying this are just stupid or lucky with their own sites…

  • issaq

    according to recent term and condition of google
    There is no penalty for duplicate content

  • Basant

    Nice and useful post, our technical writer used to copy paste from other websites, not i have be strict on content duplication. Thanks for sharing useful information.

  • Rua

    Hmmm, i’m in the cannabis seed industry, and basically all the content here is duplicate content… i’m thinking basically duplicating one of my sites a few times but targeting different keywords… i’l report back here when i see results and let you know how it’s going anyway πŸ™‚

  • Thomas Kingsley

    If I create a mirror of my site and use a completely different domain name, not a sub domain, can I be penalized?

    • Ord Allenbea

      Yes and No! This depends upon how you build the site. It is not just the domain name but the coding behind that site also. The fact is no matter what any so called guru says, there is no duplicate content penalty. If there was then things like press releases would be useless.

      Google smacked many sites due to the lack of quality of content. This is why ezine articles and ehow got smacked so hard, the poor quality of content.

  • Julie

    It’s not so much as there is a penalty, but a huge chance that you’re site won’t show up in google’s search results. We’ve all seen the “x amount of results were omitted. Run the search again to see the omitted results” box come up while doing searches. If you put dupe content on your site then you could be one of the omitted ones. As far as article directories go, I never post anything to those sites that is also on my blog. Think of it like this, if you go read this article at ezine, follow the link the the blog and find the exact same thing would you go back? Personally, I think that’s just a waste of my time. These articles are suppose to help you drive traffic to your blog. Not give someone all the info they will need at some other location.

    • Ord Allenbea

      Wasting your own content on article directories like ezine articles is just given them content to use for adsense to make money. I would never supply unique content to such a site, why should they make money on my high quality unique content.

      Article marketing is nothing like what most have been taught. Articles are supposed to empower your website to get higher rankings. Not so call drive traffic from an adsense content farm. Fact is most will see those ads and click those ads before they do your link.

      When posting articles (to proper sites) you would link to a related article on your blog and not the same article. If you post on proper sites that are 100% ad free then you have a chance at not only visitors but also link juice. Places such as ezine articles can’t give any link juice because there are far too many links and ads on your article.

      Personally I have no problems posting the same articles on my blog that I post on my article directory but I syndicate the proper way and not follow what those so called experts say.

  • Roy

    Hi Loren,
    Its bad for me that I read your article first time now in 2012.
    I bought three keywords domain name which was in my field and completely copied all the content of my main site to another three domains and make them live on google. And guess what, my main site is almost gone and sometimes my another three sites showed up on google first page.
    I am trying to fix this by removing my other domains from google. I’ll leave my main site as it is.
    Also i m thinking to divert those domains to my main sites.
    Do you think it will help..?
    Feeling so low and stupid in myself by not knowing about duplicity of contents.
    Any help from you will be very much appreciated.

    • Ord Allenbea

      There is no duplicate content penalty! It’s a marketing myth that many follow. Google’ own webmaster tools tells you exactly what duplicate content is. They also tell you exactly what they want if you would take the time to read their site.

      The famous duplicate content myth is fully explained here – http://marketersdomination.net/threads/651-The-Famous-Duplicate-Content-Myth

      There is such a thing as “syndication” which is a proven effective marketing method and has been for many years.

      If I was you – I would not remove any domains from Google. I would simply change the content on the other sites. I would stay with “related” content on other sites and cross link them. Then I would do marketing on all sites and build sitemaps and submit them to Google.

  • JJ

    This makes me wonder, why wouldnt unscrupulous webmasters just go to all their competitors’ sites and make massive dupes of their content all over the web, thus devaluing those sites? I thought Google had some system in place that they act fairly neutrally on practices that can work both ways for and against certain SEO actions, which means to me since someone can do it to you, Google should not be penalizing this type of act.

    • Ord Allenbea

      There is no duplicate content penalty, it’s a myth started by lame so called experts that wanted to sell junk spinner software. Google specifically says “THEY” will choose the content that “THEY” feel is most relevant to the search and display it.

      Syndication of content is part of marketing and there is no penalty for that. Course with that said it is a waste of time to mass submit your articles to useless content farms such as ezine articles which is nothing but an adsense website.

      You should be syndicating your content to ad free websites so you can benefit from the link juice.

  • BD Williams

    I can’t help but think that google penalizes companies that use the same material from their blogs in articles. It makes sense to penalize those sites because they are not creating new relevant content for google to index and advertise on.

    • Ord Allenbea

      It’s called syndication and there is no search engine that will penalize you for syndication.

  • web design

    Thanks for sharing really great information.

  • Upendra Chansoria

    What about the duplicate content issue with licensed websites. like if any website has license with any authorized website and also having the same product description as main website has. So, is it the issue of duplicate content there.?

  • Elmer

    It’s like having multiple business directories, sooner or later you will have duplicate content, which will cause both sites to lose traffic. I have a bit of expertise in this area. Focus on one site, or make sure they have uniquely different content on both. Better safe than sorry.

  • somil bhargava

    I had a website previously which was closed down and i transferred all my post/articles to a different domain name… The previous website was scrapped so was the articles in it. Will it be counted as mirroring or framing..?
    Am i violating Adsense policies?