Let’s get one thing straight: There’s no such a thing as a duplicate content penalty which existence would confirm any Google representative. There are two possible issues associated with non-original content:
- The removal of a search result based on a DMCA notice. Google is said to be receiving around 75 million DMCA-related takedown requests, so this issue is bigger than you may think. The good thing is that this option of filing a DMCA notice with Google is a way to fight content scrapers who steal your content, so it’s a useful option to have.
- The loss of rankings due to the fact that there is a web page that has the same (or almost the same) content as yours, so Google decided to rank that page for the sake of variety. For the obvious reasons, Google wants to show people varied search results, so they have to choose one result out of many copies. It’s hardly a penalty, but it’s not a pleasant thing to deal with: Having to compete in search with yourself.
When you want to syndicate your content on a popular blog for the sake of authority building and referral traffic, that is the risk you are running into: You may one day find that syndicated content over ranks yours.
I bring this up because the issue of repurposing old content has become a controversial one. While no one seems to believe it is “cheating” to do it, and even acknowledge that it is an effective way to get more out of the quality content that we produce, there is no denying the threat of duplicate content issues. This appears to be an “all or nothing” approach to dealing with the abusers that are just reposting content (either their own or others) purely for the sake of SEO stuffing.The truth is that reusing content is a great tactic, and perfect for sprucing up old posts that originally caught the attention of your readers. The trick is to do it properly.
Adding Quality, Not Quantity
Your task is not to add quantity, but to add quality, specifically for your readers. If you had a post that went viral or just did well, there is a chance your readers would want to see it again. There is an addendum to this: it has to offer something new that they won’t get from the original post.
This is what you need to keep in mind every single time you rewrite a post. Ask yourself: am I offering something new? Am I offering something helpful? Would I want to read this, and if so, could I get the same information from the old post? If the answer is yes then there is probably no reason to write it.
Properly Repurposing Content On Your Own Site
There are three things you can do to repurpose your content on your own site, without getting on Google’s bad side:
- Write it as an update. This is an excellent way to recycle an old post because it also allows you to internally link to the original and possibly up your traffic to a popular post that has since lost traction. It also lets you add in new, relevant information on a topic that your readers have already proven to be interested in.
- Break the ideas up into new content topics. You can use ideas brought up in old posts to come up with topics for whole new ones. For example, let’s take this post here. I could use it to come up with other ideas, such as an extensive explanation of why Google has problems with duplicate content, another on tips for using a viral post to make another viral post, etc. These may still use information from old posts, but present it in a new way.
- Vary your media format. One of my favorite methods is to use another form of media for my posts. What used to be a text post is then converted into a video, a podcast, a slideshow, and an infographic. This gives me wider audience appeal as well, as different people prefer different forms of media. All without showing as duplicate content. If you want to use an old school repurposing trick you can also create an ebook with multiple posts, though these are going somewhat out of fashion. As an example, my Mashable guest post was turned into an infographic shared on my personal website. Both are original content and everyone is happy.
Republishing On Other Sites
QuickSprout posted an awesome article about this and their experience with reposting content. What they had done is what many people have done in the past: they republished the exact same article on more authoritative sites that were happy to publish and link back
In the past this was commonplace, and many major sites did it. But when they published to Entrepreneur they found the opposite result they had expected. Their traffic decreased dramatically.
Their biggest advice has been to have the site in question use a source code trick rel=canonical, which tells Google’s bots that credit is 100% to the original poster, and not to give them any result boosts for searches. This as echoed in an interview by Eren Mckay on Viral Content Bee.
How about Long-Form Social Networks?
With the emergence of Linkedin Articles and Medium, it has become a huge question: How to build my presence there without having to write a new article each time? Can I re-publish my blog content to these networks?
You’ll see conflicting pieced of advice on that one but my own is: Don’t
Rewrite your content to have the same ideas, but be 100% original (Better choose a slightly different angle ). This will stop the duplicate content risk from ever arising, as it won’t come up on the Google algorithm as a duplicate in the first place.How do I build my presence without having to write a new article each time?
While this might be more work than you were hoping to do it is far less likely to get you into trouble.
If you are wondering how original your content should be, Google’s representative has tried to help:
“Think of it as a piece of content that was slightly changed, or if it was copied 1:1 but the boilerplate is different”.
I am not sure I fully understand what it means but the bottom line, the more “original, the better”.
To give you a quick illustration of how I do this:
- Here’s my article: How to Write a Call-to-Action: Wondering What to Put on Your CTA Button? Download Dozens of Ideas!
- Here’s my Linkedin repurposed version: How to Effectively Scale Your Email Marketing with These Quick Tips
For both articles, I was using MyBlogU to generate tips and suggestions. All those ideas that didn’t exactly fit my seosmarty.com article, I was able to repurpose as a Linkedin article on the same topic.
Now, if you want to check how original your content is (and I urge you to do it), here are two helpful tools I am using:
PlagiarismCheck: Find Who is Using Your Content
This is a great tool to find who is copying your site to claim some of your possibly lost rankings. Just run it on your site content and decide what you want to do with content thieves.
Netpeak Spider: Identify Duplicate Content on Your Own Site
Many content management systems cause what we call “internal” duplicate content issues. For example, your tag-pages having the same (or partially the same content) as your article pages. This causes all sorts of confusion and Google may even attempt to rank a tag page instead of a proper one. To avoid confusion, it’s best to noindex pages which you don’t want to rank in Google. Colorlib has more tips on this.
Netpeak Spider will help you identify duplicate content on your site.
Repurposing: Valid, But Tricky
I remain in the camp that feels repurposing content is a valid and helpful way to make your work harder. But you have to do it carefully if you want it to be a success and to avoid any issues with how Google perceives your content.