Potential Benefits of Duplicate Content

This is a guest post by Duncan, a digital marketing expert.

Last week, I wrote a guest post here on duplicate content, detailing some of the ways Google determines the original source of content, and which versions have been scraped or syndicated. Whilst it is often the case that you don’t want your content appearing all other the web due to duplicate content issues, someone raised an interesting point in the comments about the positives of having your content out there, duplicate or not. He said that not only did he like the fact his content was everywhere, but also that he often didn’t mind when the original was outranked by the copies and even filtered out of Google’s index. It was a very good point, and so I thought I would elaborate on it and explore some more reasons why dupe content might not always be a bad thing.

Better Visibility

If you’re sending out your content marketing to the right places, you can often find that the sites it appears on are more powerful and receive more traffic than your own. It’s easy to become over-proud of your content and of your site, sometimes losing focus on what your goals for the content are. Often it is the message contained within a blog post or article that is the important thing, and the more people who get to read this message the better. You are covering a much larger expanse of the web by having your content in many different places, not only because people stand a better chance of finding it by just browsing around, but also because the other sites might have large number of followers and subscribers.

Furthermore, there is even potential benefit to being outranked in the SERPS by syndicated content versions. If the content is on a powerful and respected site, it not only stands a better chance of ranking above other similar content, but it could receive a higher click though rate than your more ‘unknown’ site might have received.

duplicate content

Potential Traffic

If you mention your own site or include a link within the copy, having duplicate versions of content on multiple sites may actually provide you with more traffic than having the only unique version on your own. If the sites that have taken your content are powerful, you are likely to lose out to some degree in terms of search engine traffic. However, this can be made up (sometimes many times over) by the traffic you can receive from people reading the content on other sites. Let’s say for example you would get 50 visits per day to your article from organic search, which is lost when another version outranks you.

If you have your content on 20 other sites, each with an average article readership of 100 per day, and a click through rate to your site of 5%, that’s twice the traffic you would have received if you hadn’t been syndicated/scraped. This is of course very speculative calculation, but you get the theory.

Link Building

Content syndication is a link building technique in its own right. Whilst I am by no means an expert in it, I know of SEOs who swear by it and say that if done correctly, can earn you some very powerful links indeed. For me, what it comes down to is if Google assigns any degree of power to links within duplicate content?

There have been discussions about whether duplicate content links have any juice, both internally and externally. As with a lot of SEO issues, there doesn’t seem to be much consensus, but from my own experience, duplicate content links DO pass power when from external sources, but DON’T on internally dupe content pages. That said, I do think it depends on the quality of the site on which the duplicate version of your content is found. If you are getting links from duplicate pages on spammy sites, I very much doubt there is any link juice from them whatsoever.


In conclusion, having your content scraped or syndicated can provide you with more pros than cons, so long as the sites that the content is on are of a certain quality. A word of warning though… over syndication of your content can lead Google to believe that the majority of the copy on your site (regardless of whether it is the original) is duplicate, and this can seriously harm your site power.

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  1. says

    This is even more reason to include a link to your site within your content, article…whatever may be duplicated. I think, for many, being outranked by duplicated content is a bruise to the ego. We all want to be #1, so this may be a difficult concept to accept.

    • says

      Hello Gautm,

      Posterous is something I have a love-hate relationship with. I can send the same article to multiple sites (my sites) and get maximum coverage BUT I’ve seen others scrape my article and do the same with their Posterous a/c.
      I think Conversation Agent even had this problem AND the site taking their articles was/is very well known.

      Anyone else having problems with Posterous type ‘site scraping’?

  2. says

    Haha! I think it is almost impossible for the reputated site to scrape my content and putting in their site. :)
    Anyway, i have a new idea of the pros and cons of duplicate content after reading your article Duncan. It is interesting! Thanks for your sharing! :)
    .-= New from KS Chen @ Google Adsense Tips Increase Adsense Revenue with New Feature =-.

    • says

      I have also listen about rel=”cannonical” attribute, so is it effective if we want to add other content’s to our blog using this attribute?

  3. says

    I agree, having your dup content all over the net will drive more traffic since people favor certain sites and not others. So spreading over many sites will get you a better chance to reach more readers.

  4. says

    From my experience, the main issue with duplicated content is being able to trace the original. Google does not having any problem doing that.

    Moreover, Google understands the viral nature of the Internet and does not punish publishers for syndicated content.

    I decided to stop worrying about duplicated content issues a long time ago:).

    .-= New from Ana@ What Is YourNetBiz YouTube Secret Weapon Review: Video Marketing Magic Bullet? =-.

  5. Cliff says

    Interesting point. I never thought there could be anything positive about someone scraping your content. I’ll remember to always put a link to my site in all my articles. Thanks for the article.

  6. says

    To be honest, I think there is enough evidence to support the claim that duplicate content can be profitable, most notably, because if it weren’t, you wouldn’t see people mass submitting articles or scraping sites. For me, the concern is more about the long run, in which the dupe stuff probably isn’t going to amount for much, and the fact that the scrapers are, more often than not, thieves.
    .-= New from Steve@Lift Chairs Arthritis Explained =-.

  7. says

    It is a sad state of affairs when we turn to the positives of people STEALING our copyrighted content. While I don’t disagree on your points (many are quite valid), I am saddened that we’ve simply allowed the thieves to continue, and turn the decision over to the overlords at Google, Yahoo, etc to determine if we or someone else wrote the words.

    One would think that a company with Google’s power would just banish sites that steal content. . ..

  8. says

    I’ve had some readers who display my entire posts on their site but with a link back to my blog. I think it’s ok. It would mean they love my posts that they want to share it. I really don’t mind it as long as it points back to me. And like Ana has said, Google has somewhat a trusted way in deciding which is which.
    .-= New from Andrew@BloggingGuide Blogging Guide: Google analytics tutorial =-.

    • says

      Not everyone think alike and share the same point of view. At least I know you don’t mind your article reappearing else where so long as proper credits (live link) is given. :)

  9. says

    OK no foolin’ around now. No smiley face, no lol, no nuthin.

    I’ve asked the same question since I first learned of “duplicate content”…several years now, with no satisfying answers. I get the same novel length responses from rebels without a clue trying to look smart.

    “As long as it does link back to you in one form or another, How/Why does it make a damn bit of difference which one what gets ranked over each other.”

    Honestly. Seriously. Someone with a clue wanna clue me in?
    .-= New from Dennis Edell Would You Like a FREE Banner Ad Position? =-.

    • says

      I suspect there is no clear answer to this question.

      There is some benefit to intentionally duplicating your own articles on sites with higher authority (article directories, HubPages, Squidoo, etc) as they help to establish your credibility. Links back to your site (in the profile, resource box or body of the article) also provide backlinks which are good.

      What I try to do as well is have “teaser” articles which link back to a more indepth article (or several) on my own sites. The article still needs to have value on its own though.

      As for scrapers and plagiarizers, I don’t really see much benefit to this especially if they strip out your links and name. What I find even worse is the people who take your work and spin to create a new article. I hate the idea of spinning my own articles, but spinning someone else’s and taking credit …
      .-= New from LoneWolf@WWW Ramblings Internet Marketing Gone Wild =-.

  10. says

    <over syndication of your content can… seriously harm your site power.

    Matt Cutts was asked this and said NO. Google doesnt punish duplicate content. The vid is on his personal blog.

  11. says

    I am in agreement with Josh from Real Estate Corporation. I’m posting this below from http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66359

    If you find that another site is duplicating your content by scraping (misappropriating and republishing) it, it’s unlikely that this will negatively impact your site’s ranking in Google search results pages. If you do spot a case that’s particularly frustrating, you are welcome to file a DMCA request to claim ownership of the content and request removal of the other site from Google’s index.

    A blogging friend of mine who is a professional therapist found her entire blog contents were being sucked up from her RSS feeds by a blog scraping content thief. She found her content duplicated on 90 different blogs. and made all the appropriate DMCA complaints and got it removed. During the whois investigations she made she discovered the content thief had a stable of 90 prostitute blogs he was pimping out for Adsense pennies. She reported him to Google, Adsense and also to Technorati and was successful in having all of her content removed and having the blogs removed from Google indexing, banned from Adsense and also from Technorati.

    As the internet community matures and as more and more people conduct their professional services and business online, we are bound to see in increase in legal activity and court challenges with respect to content theft and other issues like defamation. It’s about bloody time that we people in cyberspace were held to the same standards online as we are offline.
    .-= New from timethief Handle Online Attacks Effectively =-.

  12. says

    As long as those duplicates clearly stated that the original was written by me and have a link to my blog, I don’t really mind. But sometimes you just want that bit of traffic that you won’t get if you are outranked by the duplicates

    Because chance is that those readers won’t click to the original article if they’ve got the info that they want
    .-= New from Michael Aulia Why becoming a product reviewer is not as easy as you thought – Part 2 =-.

  13. says

    The one thing I don’t mind being re-posted is my affiliate links…

    In my experience, scrapers and even people who use your articles from ezinearticles often take out the links. That means their crappy website doesn’t even give you that. Not worth it, IMO.
    .-= New from Anne Moss Ok, so now this blog runs on Thesis… =-.

  14. says

    Duplicate content is definitely a drag for anyone who creates their own, legitimate content. This would seem like the perfect opportunity for a Service (Google) where you could submit/register a couple paragraphs and keywords from everything you post to this Service at the time you first publish it. The Service would then verify the existence of your content on your site based on date/time.

    The Service would then search/spider the web for your content over time and generate a monthly report of any direct matches of your content and provide links to the potential duplicates. Kinda like Google Alerts on steroids. Hmm.
    .-= New from Mike @ Computer Tips Changing Yahoo Search Settings =-.

  15. says

    I thought the theory of the benefit of syndication (leaving aside the number of people who actual follow a link back to your site) was that as Google crawls and indexes, it sees the links and the anchor text more regularly than it would if it were just looking at your site and the frequency with which your site is updated. This increased frequency benefits your site.

    Does anyone think this theory is wrong? (or correct?)

  16. says

    As far as I can see this is good for something only if your name and/or website name/address is still attached to it. Maybe even the link in the article is still working (like you wrote about in the last article; putitng a link to your own site in every article on the site). But what if all info about the author is cut out and THEN you get filtered out?
    .-= New from Bensinkort Hvordan finne det beste bensinkortet? =-.

  17. says

    Interesting take on duplicate content. All I ever hear is that duplicate content is horrible and to stay away from it. As others point out, this theory only works if people leave your link in the content, which many times I have found that most people don’t. They completely take out the link or that make it so it is not a clickable hyperlink.
    .-= New from Tiffany @ Passive Income Opportunities My Online Passive Income Earnings Report for March =-.

  18. says

    I get all confused with how SEO really works. Many SEO experts have different take about this topic. Yes this one about duplicate content especially. Some say submitting duplicate content to directories won’t get your site indexed, and that every single one of your articles should be unique and should have good content for it to serve it’s purpose then now there are potential benefits from duplicate content? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in any way against the idea. I think Duncan has pointed out quite a few valid points.
    .-= New from Gen@Chiropractic Marketing Yelp’s Major Site Changes. =-.

  19. says

    Very interesting take on this. I don’t worry to much about getting scraped cause if you are placing links in your content they get scraped too and as you said these can make some very powerful links.

    I always thought that Google knows the original source of content (the site where it appeared first) so I don’t think that you can get deindexed if you post the content first on your blog.
    .-= New from Alex@Zahnbleaching blend-a-med Whitestrips 56 Streifen im Test =-.

    • says

      Unfortunately, a lot of scrapers remove or alter the links. They take your name off the article so there is no link back to you at all. I’ve had some sites that just grab the first paragraph or so of an article and that’s it — no links to the rest of the article, no attribution, nothing. I’m not even sure why they want to do that.

      The other thing to keep in mind is that Google doesn’t “deindex” you. You’re just filtered into the “X similar results” section that most people don’t look at. And you aren’t guaranteed that Google will show your post over the scrapers — at least not yet.

      I’ve found that some scrapers are willing to fix things (like proper links, attribution and keeping the text as written) if you manage to track them down. So far, I’ve only had to make a copyright infringement report once and the ISP took the entire scraper site down rather than just the post (I guess that’s easier for them).
      .-= New from LoneWolf@WWW Ramblings Internet Marketing Gone Wild =-.

      • says

        Yeah, it’s always a pain when you’re scraped without attribution or working links. What’s worse is when they also scrape the comment section too – that’s just overkill.

        I don’t mind all scraping because it does help build some backlinks but I’m quick to email the website owner if their website comes across as too spammy.
        .-= New from Murlu 3 Easy Ways To Making More Sales (And How To Do Each) =-.

  20. says

    Hi Duncan, great points around why I should be less concerned about my syndicated content then I am currently. In fact, based upon the value of syndicated links and the potential for my content landing on a higher PR site then my own really makes sense.

    I wonder how effective blog syndication tools such as blogexplosion and blogcatelog really are? Does anyone have any experience using these tools?