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Duplicate Content Penalty: MYTH or TRUE

There is a lot of confusion around duplicate content and whether or not a company is penalized by Google for having duplicate content across the web. In this blog post, we intend to clear up this confusion up in the simplest terms possible.


Knowing that you are probably busy, I’d like to save you time in reading through this entire article, and give you the answer upfront. (If you’d like to read the entire article, we’re okay with that too!). Here is my answer:

There is no such things as a Duplicate Content Penalty.

In fact, this has been confirmed by almost every credible SEO resource online. Here are examples from each of them discussing the duplicate content penalty MYTH.

The reason these top SEO resources can so confidently say that the Duplicate Content Penalty is a MYTH is because Google has said it’s a MYTH.

I cannot stress this enough.

Matt Cutts, the former head of the web spam team at Google, is quoted as saying, “25%-30% of content on the web is duplicate content….Duplicate content is not treated as spam, it’s just treated as something we need to cluster appropriately and rank correctly.”.  

Also, Susan Moskwa, Google Webmaster Analyst said “Let’s put this to bed once and for all, folks: There’s no such thing as a duplicate content penalty. You can help your fellow webmaster by not perpetuating the myth of duplicate content penalties!”

Here is a great analogy by content and SEO strategist, Chris Pagnani. “Imagine you’re a runner and you run a 10K—if you come in 12th or 30th or 1,000th place, are you being “penalized” for being slower?

No, of course not. The person who came in 1st is simply rewarded for doing the best job at the task everyone else was working toward, too. Only one person was the fastest—who was it? You can’t have 1,000 1st place winners.

But that’s where we have people crying “penalty.” In reality, they’re upset because either an algorithm update resulted in a reshuffling of the rankings (presumably not in their favor), or they’re upset that Google filtered out their page, not to penalize, but because it was similar enough to something else that there was seemingly no reason users might want to view it. There’s a difference between these scenarios and an actual penalty”.

The key is this: “a canonical tag (aka “rel canonical”) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs. Practically speaking, the canonical tag tells search engines which version of a URL you want to appear in search results.” (definition provided by Moz.com)

You can read the rest of this page here and its details.


Basically this is our philosophy broken down into four simple points:

  1. SEO is important for companies that rely on search results to drive traffic. Most companies want and need this. I get how it is important.
  2. However, some companies just are not able to compete in Organic SEO because there are bigger players that just spend more money, have teams that constantly write content, etc. For companies like this, pay-per-click, and social media, are good options but that has nothing to do with organic SEO.
  3. For SEO experts that understand canonical tags, they can indicate to a search crawler what page is the canonical or original source of content and to ignore other pages. We have the ability to put on our site pages the code to tell the search crawlers to just ignore these pages. Then, they will do nothing positive or negative to any SEO. Basically the search crawlers will just pretend that our pages don’t exist.  
  4. If we have the crawlers ignore out site page for Users, then they are only good for leading visitors to them via clicks from social posts or emails that a Users sends with a link included. That is what we designed this system to do. Our goal is to create a single, centralized solution for everything to keep Users Top-of-Mind with their existing network and expand that network through social properties. Our platform has automation that delivers the website, blog articles, social posts, lead capture (on the sites) and even lead nurturing with out new drip email campaigns. It’s a simple but robust automated system that does most things any small business owner would want outside of SEO and paid advertising. I suggest to all of our Reseller Clients that they add Social Advertising and PPC as services to those that want an  A La Cart it and add it to their services.

In short, Google will not penalize you for duplicate content, however your site will not rank as high as the original piece that is indexed by Google. For many small business owners/ solopreneurs in competitive markets, they don’t have the budget to rank for high-quality keywords. This is where a combination of PPC ads for search & Social Media ads can be a valuable strategy for getting your message to the right audience.

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