Is Syndicated Content Duplicate Content?

SMS Text

One of the challenges we all face whether as Webmasters, Bloggers, SEOs or any other related fields is the sheer volume of knowledge that we need to properly perform our work and advise our clients.

These are “full-time, plus” jobs!  SO much reading is required to really be informed and there is only so much time in a day.

Yet, many Webmasters and Bloggers we interact with aren’t full-time, having other responsibilities, which is understandable in today’s world and economy.

I believe this is where a lot of the misinformation begins. We can all be guilty from time to time, so I point the finger at no one. But I’d like to clear up a misconception about what is (and isn’t) “Duplicate Content” and what is “Content Syndication“.

Duplicate Content is Any Content on Another Website, Right?

Wrong. Or at least it’s not that simple.

Duplicate Content is the same or very similar content on the SAME website.

Have you watched the TV news and seen someone being interviewed or offering commentary and that person is labeled as a “Syndicated Columnist”? Or, ever seen a story reported by the A.P. (Associated Press) in your hometown newspaper or on TV news? That same story will be in many news outlets. These are examples of Syndicated Content at work.

Search Google News and find the same news stories picked up on multiple websites.

Quality content like News, Press Releases and Articles are all similar and are considered Syndicated Content. If the content is good, it’s expected to be seen in multiple places.

Syndicated Content is natural. It’s existed for decades. This is the way things have been long before Google or the Internet even existed.

NOTE: Quality Syndicated Content on the Internet has nothing to do with PLR (private label rights) articles that can be re-used by anyone buying them. Syndicated Content as I describe it is originally written by the Author (or ghost written only for that Author) and that Author maintains ownership, sharing the work subject to the Terms of Use of the blog(s) or website(s) using that content, often under a Creative Commons license.

But Using Syndicated Content Will Get My Site Banned from Google!

Really? Yeah, it won’t. Not even close.

Don’t take my word, see what Google says right here:    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66359

Specifically, about Syndicated Content, Google says:

“If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer.”

By contrast, what does Google says about Duplicate Content on the same page?

1. “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.”

2. “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.”

3. “In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved.”

My advice is don’t try to manipulate Google’s ranking algorithm. Always has been.

White-hat SEO your sites. Use high-quality Syndicated Content, Original Content (or both) to build website content and to build links.

But don’t manipulate Google, using Black-hat techniques and violating Google’s Terms of Use.

Why Would I Want to Use Syndicated Content Instead of Original Content?

Original Content is always better, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not.

First, what is original? Are we only talking about a brand new idea that’s never been written about before? That would eliminate probably 99% of possible content! Or, are we just talking about content that would pass Copyscape®?

Personally, I wouldn’t want content that had been syndicated to 50 or 100 sites. That’s just my take.

But what about a good article or blog post that’s been Syndicated to maybe 5 or 10 sites?

If the article or post was really good, you wouldn’t want it on your site?

Really?

Understanding Both the Blogger’s and the Author’s Needs and Points of View

Bloggers — If you use User Generated Content and want to grab the big ‘take away” from this post, here it is:    Think like your Authors.

Your Authors and Guest Bloggers have cost for their content, either in time, money or both. You have something you need from them (quality content) AND they have something they need from you (links, qualified traffic or both).

If your Authors can absorb their cost of content over a slightly larger number of blogs or other websites publishing the article or post, they can invest more in it! More research can be performed for the article, it may potentially be longer, be more precisely worded and better edited.

Crappy content is crappy content, whether it is an Article, a Blog Guest Post, whether it’s Original or Syndicated.

Authors — Think like your blog | website owners accepting content, since it’s not all about you, either. And if you’ve agreed to supply Original Content, do so. Do NOT misrepresent your content!

Both sides’ needs have to be met or otherwise, the relationship doesn’t work! Often times, we’re only thinking about our side of the deal and not the other person’s.

Wrapping it Up

Look, if you accept content from guest bloggers and you only allow Original Content, I’m not asking you to change and I’m not saying that you’re wrong. I’m just asking you to consider what your real goals are and the best ways to accomplish them.

Does “original” by itself really accomplish quality for your website or for your loyal readers?

It’s the intent of the person – in this case the Author – that makes the content crap or quality, not whether the content is Syndicated or Original.

And sharing content or guest blogging is all about building relationships, first. If everyone believed that, our work lives would be easier and a whole lot more enjoyable. 🙂

Thanks for your time reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Paul Marshall
Paul Marshall is an Internet Marketing Consultant. And for other SEOs, he also offers services (for their clients), including Link Building using Content, Techniques to... Read Full Bio
Paul Marshall

Latest posts by Paul Marshall (see all)

Subscribe to SEJ!
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!