Those within the SEO industry have known for some time that duplicate content is a big no-no with the search engines, especially Google. However, despite the lectures and best practices slamming the use of duplicate content, scraper sites and plagiarised web copy, sites that steal content still managed to slip through the cracks in Google’s algorithm and rank within its pages.
This caused much ire with Google, and with many website owners and SEO experts who played by Google’s rules. Google (as ever) has been busy working behind the scenes to stamp out this most heinous threat to the purity of its SERPs. In the last big Google Algorithm update in January Google has worked tirelessly to deal with the issue of duplicate content and content scraper sites, ensuring its index is free of spam and thievery.
In Google’s January update, the search engine has put in place more measures to drive spam content sites from its pages, rewarding those sites with unique, quality content.
Matt Cutts, Google’s head of anti-spam, commented about the update:
“[I mentioned] that ‘we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content.”
“That change was approved at our weekly quality launch meeting last Thursday and launched earlier this week.”
“This was a pretty targeted launch: slightly over 2% of queries change in some way, but less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice.”
“The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content.”
Google is talking tough, but what exactly will be affected by this change, and how can you avoid being adversely affected by the ‘Google Content Update’?
Firstly, if your website utilises content from other sites, meaning that you aggregate content in some way to your site (such as with the use of an RSS feed) then your site can be seen as a scraper site, or content farm. None of your content is your own, therefore is of new use to Google in terms of offering it to its users.
Secondly, if your website uses content that is very low in quality, and very high in quantity, in a bid to increase the size of your website and the number of keywords that your site ranks for, you could also be in trouble with this new update. Some websites use content in this way, and receive their content from offshore companies using non-native speakers because of the lower cost implications – regardless of the quality.
The way to protect yourself, and your website, against the Content Update (snappy eh?) is to ensure that any content added to your website is of a high quality and relevance to your site, and your industry, and that it is unique.
For Google to trust a website enough to rank it highly in the SERPs it needs to have unique, relevant content, and to feature strong backlinks. All of this can be achieved through ethical SEO.