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The Duplicate Content Myth

Among online marketers, there is a predict the rumor that has become very widespread as of late. Part of the problem lies with article spinning tools and how these programs are usually advertised.

What I am talking about is the so-called “duplicate content penalty”. Apparently, Google has some kind of an issue with copies of the same content when it finds them spread across several websites or on several pages of a single website. Rumour has it that once Google find such dupliacte copies some kind of a penalty is applied. Even though this penalty is mentioned very often, it’s very difficult to find any kind of description of what this penalty does, exactly and who it applies to.

Of course, it’s all just a myth. And it can be easily disproved. Here are some simple examples:

Press Releases:

Any time something important happens and the press release is published, the story gets republished by many news sites, large and small. Such stories and press releases are often also picked up by bloggers all across the Internet. Usually, the original text of the press release is republished word by word by most of the sites. Despite this, you don’t see news sites and news blogs getting punished by anyone.


Have you ever seen how many websites there are, where people can look up lyrics to their favourite songs? And how often are famous song lyrics quoted on websites and discussed in forums? In every instance, the song-texts are unchanged and identical, in other words: duplicates. And once again, it’s clear to see that no penalty applies to sites like lyrics databases.

Viral Content And Memes:

Any time a piece of online content, be it the video, a joke, a meme or an image “goes viral”, it means nothing else than that this piece of content is being copied and republished on many sites all over the Internet. Clearly, this is a perfect example of duplicate content, but no penalties apply to sites that republish memes and viral content.

Despite this evidence, the myths about the duplicate content penalty are alive and well, and it might be due to a mis-interpretation of the Google search results.

A Misunderstanding:

One problem is that if you search for a piece of content that as many duplicates, the standard Google search results will only display one or two instances of this content. You can click the button in the search results to see all of the duplicates listed. The reason for the omission of some duplicates from the search results is that Google strives to display diverse and relevant results. Displaying dozens or hundreds of duplicate entries would not be very useful for the person doing the search. However, the sites that are not being listed are still indexed by Google and links from those sites still “count”, so there is no actual penalty in play.

Of course, because fear sells, many article spinning programs make use of this myth in their sales process, trying to make you believe that you will get punished if you don’t rewrite your content before distributing it.

Article spinning has it’s uses and you can benefit greatly from rewritten articles, when using them properly for site promotions. However, trying to avoid some penalty from Google has nothing to do with it.

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