Duplicate Content Fears: How Much is Too Much for Google?

Duplicate content issues (where multiple pages have similar content) have long been a topic of much speculation in the SEO community. According to Google, “Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”

However, there is a distinction to be aware of: being penalized for duplicate content vs. being filtered for duplicate content. Google does the latter on a case-by-case basis, and will decide which version of a web page to show you when you conduct a search. The first wave of filtering out duplicate content is likely to be location-based, as Google is aware of the location from which a person is searching.

For example, if a person in California is searching for ‘caregiver burnout’ they are more likely to see results from sites in his or her area first, as opposed to a person in Florida conducting the same search, who would see results from that geographical area first.

Google recognizes that there is a legitimate need for multiple websites having the same content; it’s when the content looks spammy that they, “on rare occasions”, will penalize sites. Most mildly duplicate content is not likely to be considered spammy as long as it is constructed to be more of a resource/reference, and not to sell something. In essence, if you are creating spam-like duplicate content in order to drive a large number of people to your website so they will buy your product, that is a big no-no and you are far more likely to be penalized by Google than if you happen to have two pages about the effects of Alzheimer’s disease that happen to have similar content.

Some folks fear that Google will “catch on to them” for their perceived content faux pas, and might try to block Google from following some of the outbound links on their pages. Bad idea. These links are actually a good thing for your website, as they show Google that you are a positive resource for the given subject. If you were to block Google from following the outbound links, the resource pages would actually have less importance to Google and be of less value to you.

Ideally, your content should be well written and informative so that it will encourage natural inbound linking. Announcing updates or new resource pages on blog posts, Facebook, etc. is a great way to get people to see them and increase the likelihood of them linking to you. And if you are playing by Google’s quality standards rules and creating good, non-spammy content, you should have no fear of the Google content overlords.