There’s a bit of an unwritten rule about doing something that’s not quite right: if you have to ask, you already know it’s close to the edge of doing something wrong. The use of duplicate or syndicated content for Internet posting falls into this category. It’s there, it’s easily available, and the use of the pre-written material often makes it far more efficient for a site or social account to produce regular content faster and on schedule.
Unfortunately, it also runs out there with the high risk of looking like someone else’s work, which can quickly become a black mark on a business or individual when caught. From a search engine optimization perspective, it may be even worse – a loss of relevancy in search rankings. That can kill a business that relies heavily on search results for customers and traffic to its website.
The Start of Original Content Requirements
Among all the search engines, Google has been the one that has pushed the envelope in what is considered “acceptable content.” The tech giant redefined usable content for the Internet, at least in terms of being seen by search engines, when it launched the Panda 2.0 revision of its search tools. In doing so, generic SEO, repetitive written material, and obvious, duplicated website content was quickly made irrelevant in new search engine rankings, causing many websites to lose value and become, in effect, invisible to the search engine world. As a result, simple material just plugged into a meta-crawled website will be flat out ignored going forward.
From Google’s perspective, duplicate material is exactly that. It is content that is clearly or substantially copied from material that already exists elsewhere in Internet-ville, and Google has already tracked where that is via prior meta-crawling data and recording in its archives. Long story short, duplicate content is bad for anyone trying to get a high ranking for their website via a search engine.
Syndicated material is just a fancy name for duplicate material used with permission or a copyright license. When syndicated, the original material is licensed by the owner for use and re-use. That could be provided to dozens or hundreds of users, all posting the same article, word for word, on individual sites. It can be distributed and copied even faster if put on social media, as the material gets re-posted again and again from account to account. The practice is not stealing or copyright infringement because the licensed use was originally provided by the owner. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the new printing represents a copy of original material that already exists somewhere else.
Who Gets There First Wins
For a search engine, the “original” copy of duplicate or syndicated material often depends on who actually gets their content or written material posted first, making the official record in Google’s meta-crawler archives. Doing so means that first poster becomes the authentic record, and anyone else afterwards becomes the copy as far as search engine ranking goes. So, in practice, the only good time to be a user of duplicate/syndicate material is to be the first one to actually use in the digital world. Otherwise, the losers are penalized.
Google does make an exception for syndicated material when it is used in the right fashion. That approach means posting the material and liking it back to an original site where it first originated. This form of linking is actually promoted by Google because, in their eyes, it helps broaden Internet linkage of material from site to site. However, the search engine will not guarantee that a given site will get credit for the syndication, only that it will recognize the linkage when connected with other sites. The search engine instead will choose which site and content copy is the most relevant to searcher. So posters are warned to research the Internet first for obvious copies before posting.
Facebook Doesn’t Follow Search Engine Rules
When it comes to Facebook, however, everything is about sharing, relinking, posting and re-posting. The whole idea is to post and put up as much material as possible every day. As a result the practice of re-using material goes directly against how Google wants its search engine to work. In fact, Facebook accounts get more popular and have bigger followings the more material is shared and re-posted. No surprise then, a user has to make a decision as to exactly how Facebook and a search engine ranking provide benefits. This can be different for each user.
Where an accountholder can run into a problem, however, is that social media readers are not dumb. In fact they are high intelligent with fast-processing memories that can flag a post and article as duplicative very quickly. If a Facebook account starts to get known as just a churner or reprinter of material someone originated, that account can eventually find itself losing readers altogether. It doesn’t take long for one reader to spread the reality to the rest, exposing the duplicate material use.
Producing Original Content: Challenging or Costly
All the hard choices above, however, can be entirely avoided if a poster uses entirely new material and doesn’t spin or reprint someone else’s content. That can be extremely challenging, however, for businesses or individuals who need a lot of content on a regular basis and can’t produce it on their own. It’s either a matter of finding the services of multiple writers, which some do, or using previously-written material that is guaranteed not to have been published already on the Internet elsewhere.
Hiring creative writers can be expensive. Even farming out the work to multiple hands through content mills still costs money, which can add up month after month. And that’s not guaranteeing that the quality is up to par for what’s needed by a user.
Finding pre-written content that hasn’t been published is not low cost either. In fact, pre-written content may actually cost more through some quarters. Some places put it out for bid and others charge a set price depending on what the market will pay for the product. And, unless one pays for exclusive license which bumps the price up further, there’s no certainty that the material hasn’t already been bought by a previous poster. In some uncommon cases sellers with bulks sales will cheat and resell material already sold to someone else, trying to get paid and disappear before being caught. The open market outside of a reputation systems is pretty much a buyer-beware environment.
Duplicate and syndicate content clearly has good and bad aspects to its use. How that plays out clearly depends on what a user wants. Again, if search rank is important, using pre-written content is likely not going to produce good results if already published. The search engines are simply too good at finding the original elsewhere and archiving it faster than a second poster can publish. On the other hand, a user who focuses entirely on building traffic, and does so in a smart fashion that doesn’t look like he ripped off content from a better account, will often be able to build far bigger traffic streams.