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Don't Fear the Duplicate Content Penalty

Aug 17, 2007
Having a site banned from Google or Yahoo! is an internet marketer's worst nightmare. All this talk about the duplicate content penalty has everyone shaking in their boots. While you certainly should respect the duplicate content penalty, there's no reason to let it bring your marketing campaign to a halt. In fact, the penalty doesn't even affect article marketers. Fear is paralyzing, not energizing and misinformation is dangerous. Fight the fear by becoming better informed.

First of all the whole thing is a misnomer. If Google finds a duplicate site, the owner won't find a bill for a fine payable within 14 days in his inbox. What he will find - or, rather, won't find - is his site anywhere in the page rankings. It will have sunken off the map. But this is for duplicate websites, not duplicate articles.

Submit your articles with freedom and rejoice when they appear in hundreds of places. That's the beauty of social marketing at work. As Google and Yahoo! web crawlers explore the Web, they'll see your links again and again on relevant sites and that will boost your site's page rank through the roof. That's the opposite of a penalty, wouldn't you say?

One word of caution, though: stay out of "bad neighborhoods" on the Net. You don't want to link to them and you don't want them linking to your site. Bad neighborhoods are sites that have been banned by Google and/or Yahoo! or are sinking in the rankings due to black hat SEO strategies and spam-like activities.

Remember the golden rule of SERP (search engine results page) surfing: you're writing and creating sites for actual human beings, not web crawlers or fancy algorithms. In fact, spiders and algorithms are programmed to detect site features that appeal to human readers. Human readers don't waste their time in bad neighborhoods.

There are sure signs that a site is in a bad neighborhood. For starters, they just look "spammy." They often employ black hat SEO strategies such as keyword stuffing and text cloaking. Does the site look like it was created for human beings to read, enjoy and learn from? If not, you're probably in a bad neighborhood.

Linking to one bad neighborhood probably doesn't spell doom. Just be careful out there. If you submit articles through a reputable site such as Article Marketer, you won't have to worry about this because submission site reputations are riding on the fact that they submit only to publishers who are on the up-and-up. This greatly cuts your chances of being linked to a bad neighborhood. And make sure that you don't add links to bad neighborhoods on your site.

Still feeling a bit nervous about duplicate content? Think about sites such as the Associated Press and Reuters news sites. Their articles appear all over the place, yet media sites that pick them up such as CNN, MSN and Fox News enjoy top rankings. That's because they're providing fresh, relevant, informative content that people want to read. And Google and Yahoo! want to give the people what they want, plain and simple.
About the Author
Dana Davalos, graphic designer and online biz whiz, shares her thoughts on internet marketing, design and life in general at her blog, Groovy Graphix. She is a frequent contributor to Article Marketer, a highly popular article distribution service.
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