There is lots of great materials out there on search engine optimization and a whole lot more now than there was in 2007. There have been a lot of changes so many we can’t keep up with. However to truly understand SEO, you need practical experience. This means that now only do you need practical experience, but on a weekly basis you must continuously know about any updates in the search world. I think many of you have heard the famous Google quote that they changed their Algorithm 500 times in 2010 alone. Some of these minor, some of these major. The biggest obstacle the search engines are always trying to continuously overcome is spammy websites and how do they bring the most relevant search query to the top of the SERP’s. I’d like to talk about, arguable the most important aspect of SEO that can either improve your results or penalize your results never to be found again on the search engines.
“Content is king” is a widely stated quote used in the SEO world and that is because the more content you have the more the search engines consider your site authoritative on the topic. However, content can hurt you when it is DUPLICATE CONTENT. I have seen it twice now where a site has been penalized. Even I Daniel Kamen an SEO Manager in New York have learned from experience and been on both sides of the sword.
Scenario 1: Duplicate Content on the Web
The webmaster knew they created content and had a daily blog, which is great. However the webmaster thought it would also be great to use a resource for link building. The webmaster submitted this article in article directories on a weekly basis. He took his blog article and submitted them to every directory possible. It did work and got the link value – for about a year. One day out of the blue for many of the keywords the site was ranking on was now not in the top 100.
Scenario 2: Duplicate Content Internally
An affiliate owned multiple websites and it happened two of these websites were on the same server. Not only were they on the same server they had 2 pages of duplicate content. Both of these sites happened to be ranked neck and neck surprisingly for a long time (over a year as well). One day one of the sites was not ranking in the top 100 for the two keywords targeted on those two pages, while the other site was not affected.
The moral of the story
There is no guarantee you will be penalized for duplicate content on your website if it is found somewhere else on your site, or on someone else’s site. However you are always running that risk. It was interesting to see in the link building scenario the site had a much harsher penalty than the two internal websites that shared the same common content. Always make sure your content is unique and any content you create externally of your website make sure it is also unique. If you do get dinged, rectify your issue, refresh your page and resubmit your url through webmaster tools.