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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