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What is Duplicate Content, and How Do I Avoid Google Penalties?

Aug 18, 2007
In the 21st century, Google has become a colossal presence in the marketing world. No business, from small start-ups to huge corporations, can afford to ignore Google's incredible significance. Understanding this, many small businesses owners have tried everything in their power to move their Web sites higher in Google's search results.

Some have even resorted to questionable tactics, which is why Google has implemented its duplicate content penalties. I have a friend, whom we'll call "Nancy," who started a web site to sell jewelry items that she and her sister made at home. After three months, they had received a grand total of two orders through their web site, so they started brainstorming ways to increase business.

Nancy's sister, after doing a little research into Google's search algorithms, came up with the brilliant idea: Using various web-hosting services, they would create the same pages, under different web addresses, all with links to their main jewelry site. The idea was that Google's automated system would pick up on all of these links, and soon their jewelry site would rise higher in Google's search rankings, thus generating more business.

Unfortunately for my friend, things didn't work out this way. In its guidelines, Google warns against posting identical pages within or across domains. In other words, Google can automatically detect when pages with identical layout, content and design are splashed up around the Web.

Google's penalties for duplicate content can be severe. In cases where Google detects manipulative practices, they do not hesitate to completely remove the offending Web site from their rankings, making that site virtually impossible to find on the Web. And this is exactly what happened to Nancy's jewelry web site, which was devastating both to their business and to Nancy and her sister personally.

Of course, Nancy and her sister are not bad people by any means. They just were not familiar enough with Google's policies, and they thought they had come up with a clever idea to boost their underdog company. What they didn't realize is that they weren't the first people to try such tactics, and that Google was way ahead of them.

In general terms, the best way to avoid Google's penalties is to give search engines what they crave. A little research will show that Google truly cares about returning solid and legitimate search results for its users. What's more, Google's staff is always monitoring the Web for new schemes, and adjusting their search engine accordingly.

Naturally, the end result of researching Google's policies leads to a conclusion that most of us knew in the first place -- that underhanded and manipulative tactics rarely pay off in the long run.

Ultimately, Google's policies have helped make online marketing more closely resemble traditional marketing. Before the Internet, small business owners who jerked their customers and colleagues around with deceptive tactics were soon out of business. During the early development of the Internet, there was a small window of time during which people could manipulate the Web in all kinds of shady ways -- but, thanks to Google, those times are gone.

Which leads us to the burning question: What is there to do?

The Internet thrives on solid content, and indeed, Google would not exist without it. Today, more and more businesses are learning that the best marketing strategy is to create high-quality Web content, and to have it distributed to Internet locations where potential customers will see it. Not only does this drive traffic, it also boosts your PageRank, thanks to all those inbound links.

This is where submitting articles to article marketing services come in. Even if you're not a writer, these services offer suggestions for writing articles, and they can help you turn your unpolished content into the type of material that web publishers love. When a good article is picked up and published by lots of places, it creates the kind of organic buzz that the search engines recognize and appreciate. It's easier than it sounds, plus it is effective and completely legitimate.

In fact, the advantages and benefits of article marketing are significant. And the simplest way to leverage these benefits is to use a fully managed article distribution service. It's a quick and easy way to get the Google love!
About the Author
Tiva Kelly is an expert at article marketing and offers support to authors at Article Marketer, a highly popular article distribution service. Article Marketers avoid Black Hat SEO and penalties when they submit their articles at Article Marketer.
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