There is a lot of talk about how duplicate content can hurt your business and cause Google to drive your site to the farthest back of the list, but we’re here to tell you that’s it’s all just one big fat myth. Truth be told, there really is no such thing as duplicate content or duplicate content penalties. If you understand how Google really works, it being a highly intelligent machine and all, you will know that the term is just a doomsday scenario created by those with not enough knowledge.
They’re all over the Internet — articles and so-called technical audits of how Google treats duplicate content saying that it’s the reason why your site is not getting the attention you want. They’re wrong. Case in point, the Google Webmaster blog resolved this issue way back in 2008: “There’s no such things as a ‘duplicate content penalty.’ At least, not in the way most people mean they say that. You can help your fellow webmasters by not perpetuating the myth of duplicate content penalties!”
Why People Think Duplicate Content Penalties Exists
It’s easy to belief that Google penalizes websites that contain duplicate content by positioning them on page 3 and onwards of search results (where people don’t really bother anymore to browse). However, the way Google works is that it simply filters similar content and chooses one that best represents the typed-in search parameters.
You can test this out yourself by adding &filter+0 to the end of the URL to remove the filtering feature. If you type in “Miami SEO meetup,” you’ll likely see the same page twice. And when you really think about it, the term “duplicate content” is really vague, especially since about 30 percent of the Internet is composed of this.
How Google Reacts To Duplicate Content
All that said, it boils down to presentation. What can you do to make Google see that it should choose you over the other sites that basically say the same thing? That’s the challenge. Don’t just rattle off “duplicate content penalty” because your SEO specialist was just too busy to understand how things work.
Google works by looking for a diverse way to present results based on your given parameters. Hence, it will choose to consolidate articles with similar content and show only one version. There are specific algorithms that place different versions of the same thing into a cluster, from where the “best” is selected to be displayed.
Clearly, it is the system’s design to not present you with exactly the same search results because where’s the fun in that, right? If your page did not get chosen to be on the main display, that doesn’t mean you were penalized. That simply means your version didn’t stick with Google enough to make it notice you. Now, the question is: how do you make Google choose you? That’s another discussion altogether.