The Internet never sleeps, and like anything over-active and dynamic, the state of the Web is always changing. As such, those of us who work in Internet-related fields are subject to constant changes in our environment.
While this has the benefit of making SEOs and Web content managers some of the most agile around,the constant state of flux can lend itself to confusion. That brings us to today’s topic, which is how duplicate content and syndicated content are treated in a post-Panda environment.
Understanding Duplicate and Syndicate Content
First thing’s first: duplicate content is defined as the whole or partial replica of an original article, blog post, or other substantive piece of written content. Duplicate content is generally the result of one of two things – either the malicious efforts of a scraper site that copies content from legitimate sources, or a technical error. (It’s surprisingly easy to accidentally post an article twice or produce two pages of significantly similar content.)
It was once the case that duplicate content would only work against the piece of content in question. After Google Panda, however, the cost of duplicate content has become much heavier, and the impact can damage the ranking of non-duplicate pages on your site.
On the other hand, syndicated content is content that has been distributed for re-posting to other sites or outlets (with the permission of the author or owner of the content). For instance, this blog, Searchcore, is syndicated to the Business 2 Community blog. This content syndication reproduces original content on a different website.
High-quality content, such as news articles and press releases, are expected to be syndicated to a number of other sites. As a result, Google Panda knows how to differentiate between syndicated and duplicate content, although there are some practices you should follow to make sure that the Panda doesn’t get confused and to ensure that your original content is ranking.
Best Practices for Content Syndication
If you are syndicating your content to another site, there are a few simple steps you should be taking so that your original content won’t be accidentally filtered out of search results, as can sometimes be the case with syndicated content.
About syndicated content, Google has said:
“If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer.”
To tip the scales in your favor, implement the following best practices when you syndicate your content.
- Link back to the source. This can be as simple as adding a one-line disclaimer that indicates the blog has been re-posted with permission, and providing a link that navigates users back to the original article.
- Use cross-domain canonical tags. These tags allow you to specify the canonical (read: primary) version of a page.
- If you are able, use no-index meta tags on the syndicated content page. This will prevent search engines from indexing that version of the content. Webmasters may be reluctant to comply with this goal.
- Use Google’s syndication-source tags. About a year ago, Google quietly rolled out a set of experimental tags for syndicate content publishers. Their impact has not been 100% confirmed, but considering the rise of syndication sites, they will likely be something to watch out for in the future.
These simple steps help Google Panda differentiate between a syndicated piece of content and duplicate content that has been erroneously posted or maliciously scraped from an authentic source. It’s great when you have the opportunity to syndicate your material to other outlets, but it’s preferable to have your original source article ranking first.
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