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The Curse of the
Duplicate Content Penalty

When advertisers started realizing the value of search engine traffic, so did the spammers. One trick used by spammers is to duplicate the same website over and over and submit it to the search engines under many different domain names. This eventually caught the eye of major search engines, thus, resulting in the duplicate content penalty.

Dups Fall Under the Radar

Around the same time spammers started targeted search engines, many site owners began writing articles related to their products. They would submit these articles to various directories and also offer free reprint rights to anyone who would give a link back to their site. They would also post the same articles at their own site in hopes to maximize visitors for their own web business.

Though this type of promotion helped sites to get targeted visitors from other sites, it also fell under the dreaded "duplicate content" radar used by Google and other search engines. So, legitimate companies began suffering for the wiles of a few.

The "Penalty" Explained

When a search engine discovers that a large amount of identical content appears on several different sites, it may penalize that site by either dropping it much further down in the "results" listings or by dropping it from the search engine all together. Either way, the site's visitor base is drastically reduced - along with sales!

Companies who have experienced the duplicate content penalty are basically cursed by the search engines, and they may never be able to get the website listed again. Many have even changed their domain name and started from scratch.

Types of Duplicate Content

There are several types of duplicate content that is frowned upon by search engines. One is affiliate content. Sites with an affiliate program attempt to maximize their profits by offering each affiliate a carbon copy of the main selling site. Therefore, the exact same content may appear on hundreds or thousands of websites. Search engines consider this to be poor quality search results because all the sites offer the same thing in the same way.

Another type of duplicate content that will fall under the radar is one website owner that tries to gain search engine listings under many keywords by duplicating their own website to other domain names.

Search engines are also concerned with those who submit pages that are "almost" identical, but with just a few changes here and there.

How do They Know?

One might wonder how a search engine knows when duplicate content appears on many sites. Because of spam, search engine programmers have tested and proved sophisticated software that will recognize these sites. As search engine spiders or bots crawl the Web to look for unique content, they are also programmed to locate and report duplicate content. Then, an actual person on staff will analyze the content to find out if a site should be penalized.

To avoid the duplicate content penalty curse, one should consider the risks in submitting duplicate content all over the Web. If a practice is questionable, it's best to contact the search engine staff directly to be sure. Unique content always wins!



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