There isn’t much room in the middle.
Recently, I came across SEO related quotes from two different sources, that made me stop in my tracks wondering if I’d stepped into an alternate SEO universe. Here are the quotes …
.. What about the “duplicate content penalty”?? This is where Google does not display more than one version of the same copy in its results. BUT – Google still indexes the content AND it still counts for backlinks!!
“Some SEO experts still believe that Google plus is not going to make drastic changes in search results. The reason is that several other social networking components are already working much before and hence Google’s recent entity cannot make a substantial impact at present. The Facebook and Twitter are well established and their presence cannot be ignored very soon. Therefore an early prediction on the effect of Google plus on SEO is not possible now.”
Let’s see if I can clarify my position on these issues.
Duplicate Content Penalty
Duplicate content is any significant block of text found on multiple web pages, possibly the same domain, but more typically, on separate domains. Google seeks out and respects unique content, as this is most likely what searchers are looking to them to provide. The last thing Google wants to present is multiple sites displaying identical content. As for the penalty for this offense, I think the suppression of one of the duplicate pages from the index is the minimum penalty possible. Other options at their (Google) disposal is removal of both offending pages from the index and the removal of one or both sites from the index. I think it would be a brave or foolish person to assume Google will pass link value from any page or site removed from the index.
The extent of the penalty will probably be determined by the extent of the transgression. It seems unlikely, a single instance of a cloned page will be seriously penalised if detected. An automated process to send content to multiple domains is much more likely to incur a site wide penalty. What’s not certain is which site will be penalised.
The page that caught my eye proposed automated posting across platforms. Specifically cloning posts from Posterous to Tumblr and possibly other hosted blogging platforms.
For the record, I don’t think there is any risk in sending an excerpt from a blog post to a Facebook page or tweeting the post’s title to Twitter, and incorporating a link to the full post. This is one of the valid ways of utilising these platforms. Nor do I think there is anything inherently wrong with the use of those specific blogging platforms or any of the alternatives available. Quality content on any platform is always rewarded once indexed.
Perhaps the writer has modified his / her views since publication (August 2010). If that’s the case, it’s a pity an update wasn’t included.
Impact of Google Plus
Yes, Google Plus is young and other social platforms definitely have a head start and significant numbers of regular users. But to think Google will ignore the social signals emanating from this source that they built is foolish.
This not to say Twitter and Facebook will fall in significance or that the value of social signals they generate will lessen. However, Google Search has a fast path to the Google Plus data. One of the first voices I can recall talking about the impact of social signals on search results was Christopher S Penn back in June 2011. At that time, G+ was not generally available, so it’s not surprising he didn’t mention Google Plus specifically. However, the role of social signals was clearly in the sights of this thought leader, as it has been for many other significant voices in the intervening period.
Does this mean everyone should immediately jump on board, perhaps at the expense of other social media channels? Every enterprise has to make that decision for itself. The decision will come down to effort versus reward and where the majority of its target audience found.
But choose wisely. Search traffic is a lifeline for many businesses. Any opportunity to increase ranking needs consideration.
Perhaps I’m misinterpreting the statements on these sites. Maybe these opinions are pushing the boundaries of SEO thinking. A reasonable objective. But that’s not my impression.
The ideas expressed do not sit well with me. SEO is black magic for some, and misunderstood by many. Most website owners rely on SEO professionals to guide them through the maze. I’m concerned someone will take these opinions as mainstream views and attempt to implement them to their detriment.
- Google’s search focus is still on user needs (midboh.com.au)
- How to Get Started With Google+ Pages for Business (christopherspenn.com)
- A Great Use of Google+ for Business (chrisbrogan.com)
- Google Plus as a Storytelling Platform (chrisbrogan.com)
- Giving Google Plus Business Pages a try. Let’s see how it works out. (midboh.com.au)
- Duplicate Content in a Post-Panda World (seomoz.org)