How a Duplicate Content Penalty Can Hurt Your Online Business

What really is Search Engine Optimization?

What really is Search Engine Optimization? (Photo credit: Go Local Search)

How a Duplicate Content Penalty Can Hurt Your Online Business

Creating good, unique content for your blog or website can be
intensive and time consuming, and you are the person who should reap
the full rewards of your efforts. There is, however, a growing trend in
internet marketing referred to as ‘splogging’ (a combination of spam and
blogging) that can sometimes inadvertently punish honest webmasters,
even if they create unique content from scratch.

Splogging is a practice that the search engines look down upon, and
it consists of creating a free blog and using automated software
programs to “scrape” together content from various sources. These
automated programs are web robots that scour the internet looking for
information and articles related to a certain topic, and they will copy
various pieces of content from different sources to create a new page.

This scaped content is put into the blog and surrounded with ads, and
the owner will then use spam or other dishonest promotional practices
to try and drive traffic to his blog. None of the content on this blog
or “splog” is original, it is simply articles from different websites
that are copied and posted.

When it comes to the merchants of information

such as Google and Yahoo, they are constantly monitoring the status of the internet and working to improve their search engine algorithms so that they can deliver relevant and useful information to people. One of the latest
developments in search algorithms has been the addition of a “duplicate
content filter” which will penalize the ranking of certain webpages if
they contain information that is identical to some other webpage.

The search engines

look down on this type of behavior because their goal is to provide people with information that is relevant to their
search, and they do not want these people going to a page that is poorly
designed, stuffed with ads, and filled with unoriginal and useless
content. So in order to combat this, the search engines implemented a
filter that will block all webpages containing the same content except
for one of them.

Even if you are the most honest and genuine webmaster around and the
thought of doing something like this would make it hard for you to sleep
at night, there is still a chance that you and your online business
could be penalized by the duplicate content filter. The way this would
happen is that a web robot or content scaper will happen across your
webpage and copy its content before it is indexed by the search engines,
and then when your content (which may be original and have been
painstakingly and laboriously crafted) is posted on the “splog” it will
get indexed before your own page does.

Then when the search engines finally discover your page,

they will
already have a saved copy of a separate page that already contains this
exact content and will penalize the rankings of your webpage instead of
the unoriginal blog which should be penalized.

Another way that your business could be negatively affected by the
dupicate content penalty is if you look to submitting articles as a
method to garner traffic and publicity. Many webmasters will choose to
create articles for their website or blog and then submit those articles
to different article directories.

While this practice in and of itself

is not a bad idea, one of the consequences to submitting the same articles that you put on your own
website is that the search engines might index the version on the
article directory first before indexing the version on your website, and
they will slam you with the penalty instead of the directory. This is
especially likely if you submit your articles to big, popular content
directories such as Ezinearticles and ArticlesBase.

The way to avoid this is to write your articles and publish them on
your own website, and then wait about a week or so before you submit
them to article directories. Ideally you would want to wait until you
can find your article in Google so that you know that it is indexed and
that it counts as the original version (meaning all other versions will
be penalized).

SEO Mistakes To Avoid

The world of SEO can be fraught with danger if you do not
have a clear idea of what you are doing. There are certain tactics to
avoid as they will most likely harm your rankings rather than improve
them. Here is a short list of SEO methods and mistakes that should be
avoided at all costs.

Many sites use a splash page as an entry point to a website, this is
predominantly a page that has a beautiful picture and graphics but only
has the text ‘enter here’. This is an SEO disaster, while the image may
be aesthetically pleasing; it holds no currency with search engines.
Most search engine spiders are looking for text, when they reach your
splash page and find only two words, unsurprisingly they are not
impressed. Your homepage is the most important page in your site and as
such should be the most visible to search engines.

Some developers are keen to include text and pictures as images on
web pages. Once again this is a mistake that should be avoided. While it
may produce a stunning visual effect, it will be invisible to search
engine spiders, creating no benefits for SEO. It is text in the proper
sense that is a worthy inclusion, while creating a page that fuses text
and pictures together may be visually appealing, it will not improve
your rankings, subsequently your SEO efforts will be wasted.

The importance of tags has been debated furiously recently, while
some SEO specialists may argue that they are not important, this is
certainly not the case. Search engines still place great importance upon
the tags as a way to categorise and list the content on a web page. If
you leave a tag out completely or only put in mediocre information, you
are missing out on a prime SEO opportunity, as a result, you should
always put effort into the writing of your tags. The same can be said
for the description tag as this once again give relevance to a web page
and makes it more ‘readable’ for search engines.

While you may recognise the importance of tags in your SEO efforts,
some may in fact be making a great SEO mistake in writing them. There
are still a number of operators and developers out there that will write
the same tags and descriptions for all of their pages. Creating unique
tags is a golden SEO rule that will improve your rankings. Some
developers even like to put their own branding into their tags.
Naturally it is understandable that company directors will want their
company name as the first tag, this is a common mistake. More important
is to place a highly searched key term as your first tag to ensure your
site’s visibility is secured.

The best way to improve your rankings is to produce quality and
informative content on your web site. There are many who neglect this
when undergoing SEO focussing on the off page elements instead. By
creating quality, unique content you are ensuring that your site is
worth reading, for both human users and search engine spiders. If you
can become an authority in terms of the information on your site, high
rankings will follow in time.

One of the worst mistakes is to attempt to hoodwink the search
engines, this is often referred to as ‘black hat’ SEO. Methods such as
creating hidden text, also known as ‘cloaking’ should definitely be
avoided as these methods will harm your rankings in the long term. They
may even lead to your site being kicked out of the search engine
listings, leaving you with no traffic at all.

While these mistakes are common in the world of SEO, this article has
only scratched the surface of what can be a minefield. This is the
reason why SEO specialists should be employed to carry out your
optimisation as uneducated attempts may result in worse rankings than
before, and even de-listing from search engines.