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How a Duplicate Content Penalty Can Hurt Your Online Business

Jan 31, 2008
Creating good, unique content for your blog or website can be intensive and time consuming, and you are the person who should reap the full rewards of your efforts. There is, however, a growing trend in internet marketing referred to as 'splogging' (a combination of spam and blogging) that can sometimes inadvertently punish honest webmasters, even if they create unique content from scratch.

Splogging is a practice that the search engines look down upon, and it consists of creating a free blog and using automated software programs to "scrape" together content from various sources. These automated programs are web robots that scour the internet looking for information and articles related to a certain topic, and they will copy various pieces of content from different sources to create a new page.

This scaped content is put into the blog and surrounded with ads, and the owner will then use spam or other dishonest promotional practices to try and drive traffic to his blog. None of the content on this blog or "splog" is original, it is simply articles from different websites that are copied and posted.

When it comes to the merchants of information such as Google and Yahoo, they are constantly monitoring the status of the internet and working to improve their search engine algorithms so that they can deliver relevant and useful information to people. One of the latest developments in search algorithms has been the addition of a "duplicate content filter" which will penalize the ranking of certain webpages if they contain information that is identical to some other webpage.

The search engines look down on this type of behavior because their goal is to provide people with information that is relevant to their search, and they do not want these people going to a page that is poorly designed, stuffed with ads, and filled with unoriginal and useless content. So in order to combat this, the search engines implemented a filter that will block all webpages containing the same content except for one of them.

Even if you are the most honest and genuine webmaster around and the thought of doing something like this would make it hard for you to sleep at night, there is still a chance that you and your online business could be penalized by the duplicate content filter. The way this would happen is that a web robot or content scaper will happen across your webpage and copy its content before it is indexed by the search engines, and then when your content (which may be original and have been painstakingly and laboriously crafted) is posted on the "splog" it will get indexed before your own page does.

Then when the search engines finally discover your page, they will already have a saved copy of a separate page that already contains this exact content and will penalize the rankings of your webpage instead of the unoriginal blog which should be penalized.

Another way that your business could be negatively affected by the dupicate content penalty is if you look to submitting articles as a method to garner traffic and publicity. Many webmasters will choose to create articles for their website or blog and then submit those articles to different article directories.

While this practice in and of itself is not a bad idea, one of the consequences to submitting the same articles that you put on your own website is that the search engines might index the version on the article directory first before indexing the version on your website, and they will slam you with the penalty instead of the directory. This is especially likely if you submit your articles to big, popular content directories such as Ezinearticles and ArticlesBase.

The way to avoid this is to write your articles and publish them on your own website, and then wait about a week or so before you submit them to article directories. Ideally you would want to wait until you can find your article in Google so that you know that it is indexed and that it counts as the original version (meaning all other versions will be penalized).
About the Author
One way to make sure that your webpages are not penalized by this type of filter is to run them through a Duplicate Content Checker. You can find this software at http://coach-tyler.com/dupchecker/, which will check to see if the articles that you write are duplicate content.
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