There's much confusion over duplicate content on the internet - what it is and what it is not, as well as how it can affect your local SEO efforts. Because Google has not published any hard and fast rules, it's highly recommended that you play it safe. Focus on original content on your website, blogs and article submissions.
How Much Duplicate Content is Too Much?
In a recent blog, Google experts reiterated that 25 to 30%; of all web content is duplicated. Some of it is deliberately stolen, a practice that can lead to lower rankings or a redirect to the original source. If you have ever "lifted" content from a competitor because you like the way his site was written, STOP. If you are trying to save time by cutting and pasting your own information on several of your pages, DON'T!
The search engine giant recognizes that duplicating does happen, and often, it's quite by accident. It occurs when you quote and link to another site's content, or when you cite legal language. It also happens when you write common, everyday phrases.
Google's filters are a mystery to outsiders, but apparently they can discern between accidents and deliberate spam. The search engine insists that it does not treat every case as malicious. One of its leaders in a recent blog post admitted it would hurt search quality results to penalize each and every instance.
Its leaders mention that duplicated content is grouped together and treated as a single piece of content for analysis purposes. If the software detects the same segments in multiple places, Google will only say that it "reserve(s) the right" to penalize that content as an attempt to manipulate search results.
What You Can Do About duplicate content
While Google insists you don't need to fret about it, why take a chance? Being penalized can be a nightmare for any business, especially a small, local company. To avoid it, rewrite, however slightly.
"Order X now and you'll get a free sample of Y!" on one page can be changed to:
"Get a free sample of Y when you order X now!" or
"We'll give you a sample of Y, FREE, on your next order of X!"
This is just a quick and simple example. Google robots would probably not penalize a short, repeated call to action, but consider changing it up anyway; it keeps your copy fresh and engaging to the reader. Write for each unique audience. Same idea; different content.
When you are dealing with many pages of content, the stakes are higher. Investing in a local SEO company with trained staff writers might be a wise idea. Such a company will also have the time and technology to detect the opposite problem: plagiarism of your site. A skilled SEO company will know how to combat it to keep you high in the search results.