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Google's Duplicate Content Penalty


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#1 Jged

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 03:28 PM

Hi,

About 5 years ago I designed 3 websites selling car parts for their own niche markets. At the very outset I did do quite a bit of SEO on all 3 sites and for the best part of the first 2 years they all appeared on the opening web page for the main keywords.

The company now want to resurrect the 3 sites as business is not what it was. However none of sites are to be seen for the keywords anymore. I strongly suspect that Google's duplicate penalty is at play as the content was virtually the same for all 3 sites and I did not know about this penalty back then.

If I redesigned all 3 sites all with different content is it likely that the sites would appear in the search engines once again or is some other action required on my part?

Any help appreciated.

Jged

#2 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 03:43 PM

Impossible to say. Could be any number of reasons. I'd probably start with one of the sites, give it all new, unique fresh content and design, and see what happens.

#3 jonbey

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 07:39 PM

Yeah, 5 years is a long time for a site to be pretty much dormant. That alone does not give a good signal.

#4 iamlost

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 11:54 PM

There is not an actual duplicate content penalty. What Google usually does when it recognises duplicate content, either within a site or between sites is pick one and drop the others (and not necessarily always the same way). Usually is not always so exceptions abound. I still find query returns where most of the offerings are exactly the same content just on different sites.

Given the extended period unchanged I would suspect that competitors have simply done 'better' in the interim. It is often not what one has or has not done specifically, rather what one has done or not in relation to others. Remember that for each query there is a maximum 1000 'answers' (which actually means pages from perhaps a couple hundred sites) - the 'about n-million results' is marketing crap, those may be indexed but only in what was once called the supplemental (lost in spaaace) index not the main (queries) index. It is thought that there are now three indices - that actually used for queries, a backup for broader returns, and all the rest. Each query return set is actually really quite small, it is only the large number of queries that makes it seem so large. The more competive the niche, the term the more the decimal place moves to left.: from 1% to 1% of 1% of 1% and so on.

#5 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 11:58 PM

There is not an actual duplicate content penalty.


That used to be true, but no longer. There are true duplicate penalties now, via Panda.

#6 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 12:00 AM

I have a site where I haven't updated the content in about five years. It's not getting as much traffic as it once did but it still receives traffic. I am pretty sure my site's traffic decline is due to a dropoff in the query space; people just don't search for those topics any more.

You should do some keyword research to see what people are actually trying to find. It could be your sites are penalized or it could be they are just targeting outdated keywords.

Do the best assessment of the status of the sites that you can before you commit to a redesign plan. You might optimize for the wrong keywords.


ON EDIT: You cannot determine a site's health by how well it performs for head terms. If you haven't done anything in those query spaces in five years, other sites could have leap-frogged over your sites for the head terms. The truth is more likely hidden in the long tail than in the head.

Edited by Michael_Martinez, 13 May 2012 - 12:02 AM.


#7 EGOL

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 04:29 AM

I am pretty sure my site's traffic decline is due to a dropoff in the query space; people just don't search for those topics any more.

hmmm..... I bet that it has been heavily scraped and republished verbatim - and those weasels are getting a lot of your long-tail traffic.

If you grab a random unique sentence from the first half of one of your best articles, and do a google search with your sentence between quotation marks... how many copies of it are out there?

I bet the number will surprise you.

Edited by EGOL, 13 May 2012 - 04:30 AM.


#8 iamlost

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 10:16 AM

There are true duplicate penalties now, via Panda.

Semantics are important. There is no duplicate content penalty just as there was no sandbox.

Yes, with Panda Google appears to have adjusted the duplicate content filter thresholds and yes, given sufficient duplicate content, the loss of 'value' can have a serious knock on effect but that is still not a penalty.

Yes, with Panda Google is considering whether extreme duplication among other behaviours is ipso facto proof of deceptive practice but that is not specifically a penalty due to duplicate content.

Google's stated Duplicate content guidelines as of 23-March-2012.

Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results. If your site suffers from duplicate content issues, and you don't follow the advice listed above, we do a good job of choosing a version of the content to show in our search results.



#9 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 10:20 AM

Well, we'll just have to disagree. My understanding is that with Panda, an entire site does indeed get penalized - the entire site - with a true, actual penalty. Don't really care what Google's guidelines say about it. They are talking about the original dup content filter in that, yes, but Panda has an extra quality that goes beyond that filter. That filter still exists, but there's a separate penalty with Panda that involves dup content. (Again...that's my strong belief and understanding, but of course we could both be wrong). :)

#10 EGOL

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 10:35 AM

My understanding is that with Panda, an entire site does indeed get penalized - the entire site - with a true, actual penalty.

I believe that Panda applies a site-wide rankings reduction applied to some sites that have duplicate content that google does not like.

It is possible to have lots of duplicate content on a site and escape the rankings reduction. Some powerful sites seem to be spared. Sites that have their rankings reduced but then revise their pages to display the content with noindex seem to experience a rankings recovery.

Edited by EGOL, 13 May 2012 - 10:36 AM.


#11 raz

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 11:37 AM

hmmm..... I bet that it has been heavily scraped and republished verbatim - and those weasels are getting a lot of your long-tail traffic.


That's true about my site, but I have no idea what to do about it. Is there anything I can do?
raz

#12 EGOL

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 12:26 PM

Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results. If your site suffers from duplicate content issues, and you don't follow the advice listed above, we do a good job of choosing a version of the content to show in our search results.

This is absolute BULLSHIT.

Even when we use rel=author and link it to a Google Plus page and link to the original content from a PR7 page.... Google does not do a good job of picking the proper version of the content to display.

Google needs to really crank up the value of claimed authorship.

They are monetizing, promoting and even hosting infringement and piracy. They asked us to help them with this problem by using Google + and rel=author. Now they need to use that information.

Edited by EGOL, 14 May 2012 - 12:34 PM.


#13 iamlost

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 05:46 PM

This is absolute BULLSHIT.

And here I'd almost given up waiting on someone to blow a gasket on that last bit... :D
While I do empathise I must admit to some disappointment, given that the response is from you, I'd expect a more professorial expression with hope perhaps of a latin epigram?

#14 bobbb

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 06:15 PM

male bovine fecal matter?

#15 EGOL

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 06:55 PM

Bullshitius maximus foetet omnino

#16 jonbey

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 06:47 PM

I guess another thing worth mentioning is SEO and link decay. Maybe the sites ranked well with a few links but those have vanished over time?

#17 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 02:59 AM

hmmm..... I bet that it has been heavily scraped and republished verbatim - and those weasels are getting a lot of your long-tail traffic.


No scraping. It's a science fiction site. And it was never one of my bigger sites.

#18 iamlost

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 11:50 AM

While Donna and I disagree on whether there is an actual Penguin penalty there can certainly be an impact from 'scummy' backlinks, however they originate. Unfortunately, removing links from other people's sites is rather difficult; or illegal. :D

Some sites will remove a link on request - indeed some will remove without confirming that the link actually points to 'your' site... Muhahaha!

Unfortunately many will ignore removal requests. Further, if the links are many and diverse time involved may become an expensive overhead. And, as one can never be absolutely certain which links are how much of a problem, it may well be time wasted or worse time spent shooting one's self in the foot.

However, if there are sitewide backlinks (links pointing to your site from many/most/all pages of another site) it may be worth considering serving a 403 response to traffic from such a site.
Note: consider, not auto do. Before slamming the door take a close look at the traffic and the conversion rate of the traffic. It may be worth blocking many/most such pages but allowing certain ones to still get through.



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