Say no to copies

With Gini Dietrich’s latest post about how a PR firm accidentally got a client’s website delisted from Google, we thought it would be useful to share this piece from last week’s SHIFT Happens newsletter. If you’re not subscribed, get on the list! It’s free and ships every Wednesday with tips like this.


No copies

Over the past week, I’ve been fortunate enough to have several people and news sources ask to reprint blog posts from SHIFT or my personal blog in full on other sites as guest posts. I am always honored that others find such value in what I write that they ask that, but then almost always decline a full reprint – for their benefit.

Here’s why: Google’s search algorithm penalizes duplicate content. At best, it simply ignores copies of the same text showing up in multiple places, and at worst, it identifies the copying website as a spammy, low-quality website and penalizes its rankings. By asking to reprint a post I wrote in full, other sites are effectively asking to be penalized by Google.

This gets especially bad if the originating site has authorship configured correctly for Google+ and is considered the authoritative original content. Every other site borrowing that content is then assumed to be a copy (and is thus punished accordingly) unless also the original author is also registered on that site as well. Authorship, by the way, is surprisingly simple to set up. (we have a guide for that here)

Thus, copying an article in full is a bad practice. What’s the recommended way to do it? Excerpts or summaries. Take a look at this excerpt I did on Todd Defren’s personal blog of a SHIFT blog post:

Can public relations impact SEO?

It’s got an image, it’s got a brief summary that sets expectations, and then it sends you on your way. This is original content on Todd’s blog referencing original content on the SHIFT blog.

Say no to people asking to copy content from your website verbatim, and instead offer summaries or excerpts with links to the original if you can’t pull off original content for them. You won’t just be managing your own content, but you’ll be protecting their website and reputation as well.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

Inquiring minds will note that even the text of the article above isn’t an exact copy of the original.

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Posted on February 20, 2013 in Public Relations, Search, SEO

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
  • Really, really good advice, Chris. You feel like this stuff is really widely known and then you hear the story you mention at the beginning. I don’t know if the people who do this kind of work read blogs or search the web to find better ways of doing their jobs, but I appreciate your quest to help educate one and all.

    • @ginidietrich It truly is amazing how little is known about this stuff, especially since Google has been penalizing duplicate content for years and years!

      • @cspenn I had coffee with Lee Odden a year or so ago and he told me the story of how, when he started speaking about SEO and public relations, people’s eyes would glaze over. He said, just now, are they starting to pay attention. I guess, between the economy and technology, something had to give in terms of learning new skills.l

  • This is actually old news, isn’t it? I’ve always known duplicate content was a no-no in Google’s algorithm. Since 2005, anyway. To work around it, I’ve always given my take on someone else’s original content; i.e. a review that includes my personal opinion based on past experience.

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about this of late, especially since PRDaily and Ragan has republished some of my original work via the Vocus blog.  
     
    A different question: If I write a column that appears on something like, say, Huffington Post, and then want to rerun that same post (or a very close version) on my own site, do I run the risk of being dinging by Google?

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