Duplicate Content

thief.jpgOne of the easiest (and annoying) things a website owner can do is copy content from your website and place it into their own without permission and not crediting you as the original author.

Search engines aim to deliver unique information to their users and do not want duplicate information showing in their results, they do not penalise websites for duplicate content, but they do choose which version of the content to index and rank, therefore, this can be a problem for the owner of the original content of search engines choose the wrong version.

Websites that display content taken from various other sites are called “Scraper sites”. Scraper sites are the most worrisome concern’s to webmasters when it comes to search engines handling duplicate content.

Lucky for us, Google offers some potential solutions to prevent scraper sites getting the credit for our content as well as those who duplicate content on their own sites.

There are times on your own website where you could have multiple URL’s pointing to the same content, a way to tell Google which version to use is by specifying the URL you would like search engine spiders to use. This can be done in Google Sitemaps. Nothing is guaranteed, but you might get lucky and the bots will take note of your requirement.

Another suggestion is to Authenticate ownership of your content. Unfortunately, although a good idea, it may not be the best solution, as most poeple who take your content are not interested in authentication.

There was a myth going around that search engines check creation dates of content to determine which version to use, however, Vanessa Fox of Google shot that one to peices when she said “creation dates aren’t always reliable”, so I guess we can’t rely on that.

Other ways of dealing with scraper sites taking your content could be by contacting the scraper webmaster and threatening legal action for breach of copyright (If your content is copywrited), sometimes this can bring positive results and the webmaster will remove your content.

The truth is, there is currently no magic formular that deals with duplicate content issues, however, search engines such as Google are talking to webmasters and interested in peoples ideas to find way’s to deal with these issues. It may take some time, but at least they are moving in the right direction.