The Duplicate Content Myth. Busted!

MythBusting the Blogosphere

If you search Huffington Post for the phrase “This article originally appeared in”, you get over 11 thousand results. That’s 11 thousand pieces of duplicate content.

Of course, this is one of million examples I could have listed. Every big site, from Forbes, to Mashable, to RWW, to you name it…sais they’re doing us a favor when they syndicate our content.

Clearly, these big sites are not getting punished by Google for duplicating content, so there has to be something deeper going on.

What We’ll Cover

There are 3 things I want to cover in this post.

  1. What “duplicate content” rule is designed to do
  2. How it works when big blogs duplicate your content
  3. How Google handles Triberr Reblog

But first…

In case you just fell off a turnip truck, duplicate content is when someone takes your writing and posts it on their site.

This is often done maliciously, because we’ve all been force-fed the golden rule. Content is King.

Here’s the thing about that…

  1. Content is King because without it Google has nothing to index.
  2. If there is nothing to index, there is nothing to show in search results.
  3. If there is nothing to show in search results, Google is not making any money. But also, no one is coming to your site, and consequently, you’re not making any money.

Or so the conventional wisdom goes…

Notice however, that “Content is King” has nothing to do with the quality of content.

Google has incentivised the quantity of content, NOT quality. This is because Google makes money with our content. For a very elegant explanation of how that particular hat-trick works, watch Dan Cristo in this video.

So, nefarious types figure they need content, and stealing it is an easy way to obtain it.

Note: Even tho I keep saying “google”, same rules apply for all search engines.

The Rule

Google has created the Duplicate content rule to thwart nefarious types who are stealing our writing.

The fact that some bad people may re-publish my content is not really a bad thing. It’s just more of my work being displayed in other places.

We all want as many people as possible to see our work, right?

So, it’s important to understand that republishing in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s the attribution that creates the problem. Specifically, when no attribution is given to the original author. THAT is bad.

So Google, in its infinite wisdom, has created a rule.

Duped Content Rule

Whenever Google crawls any content, the content gets a timestamp. All things being equal, content with an older timestamp wins.

So, it shakes down like this….

  1. You publish a piece of content
  2. Google indexes it, and assigns it a timestamp.
  3. Content thief copies your content
  4. Google indexes stolen content
  5. Google runs side-by-side comparison, and finds 2 pages with same content
  6. Page with an older timestamp wins search placement

So, if Google does its job right, you win the search placement.

Note: Content thieves try to sidestep side-by-side comparison by using applications called  “article spinners”, which substitute certain words with synonyms hoping to make stolen content different enough.

Bottom line, Google has pretty well solved the duplicate content issue. Unless we’re talking about your content being republished on big sites.

Republishing with Permission

Sometimes, however, duplicate content is taken from your blog and re-published (syndicated) with your permission. This usually means that the authorship is carried over as well.

On an interesting psychological side note, we’re not so protective of our audio and video content since the author can be seen and heard. In fact, we WANT people to embed our podcasts and videos.

Also, the newest form of content, Infographics, is designed to be republished. Something to keep in mind, since we’re discussing the evolution of content distribution. Anyways…

Many popular blogs “steal”, and have in fact built their empires on republished content.

For example. If you search Huffington Post for the phrase “This article originally appeared in”, you get over 11 thousand results. That’s 11 thousand pieces of duplicate content.

Of course, this is one of million examples I could have listed. Every big site, from Forbes, to Mashable, to RWW, to you name it…sais they’re doing us a favor when they syndicate our content.

Clearly, these big sites are not getting punished by Google for duplicating content, so there has to be something deeper going on.

Let’s crack open the hood, and see what’s underneath.

Problem Right Now

The problem is, even when your content is republished (with attribution) on a site like Huffington Post, it’s NOT you who gets better placement in search results.

This is because giant sites like HuffPost have a greater authority (in Google’s eyes) than your tiny little blog.

Think about that for a second.

  1. You write an awesome post.
  2. It gets syndicated to a big blog
  3. Google gives preferential treatment to the big blog
  4. You lose traffic that was meant for you

That sucks in my book.

Now, many writers see this as a trade off. The logic goes that if you’re syndicated to a big site, you’ll get more exposure. But, here’s the thing.

You will NOT get more exposure. Your content might. But not you.

This is because big blogs (like HuffPost, to stay with the example) have an overpowering brand identity.

Readers don’t go to HuffPost because of 1 specific author. They go there because it’s HuffPost.

Ask yourself, out of all the articles you’ve ever read on big blogs, how many authors can you actually name?

Syndication Done Right

Triberr decided to fix these pesky little problems once and for all.

Triberr plugin enables you to syndicate|reblog|republish (article spinner? ;-)) posts you find in your tribal stream.

I’ve written an extensive how-to guide on the reblog process here, so I won’t be repeating those details in this post.

So, what happens when your tribemate reblogs your post?

Let’s use you and I as an example:

  1. You publish a post
  2. Google crawls it and timestamps it
  3. I reblog it with a single click
  4. Google crawls the same post on my blog and timestamps it
  5. Since both our blogs are of similar authority, YOUR post gets higher ranking in Google
  6. You get the traffic you deserve

Authorship is carried with the post, no matter how many times it’s reblogged. The Author box is tied to the content. Neither author, nor “re-blogger” need to worry about this. Triberr takes care of it.

But, here’s the real kicker. Here is something you and I have that HuffPost does NOT have. ZERO loss of engagement.

ZERO Loss of Engagement

When your post gets syndicated to HuffPost, the comment systems are completely disjointed.

Comments on your blog are not visible on HuffPost, and vice versa.

With Triberr plugin, comments are “mirrored” across every instance of the post.

This means that if I reblog a post that already has 20 comments, those comments will be visible on my blog as well.

Also, this means that any comments left on my blog, will be visible on the original blog as well.


Here, try it for yourself.

Three blogs, one post. Check it out. Note the comment section. It is identical. 🙂


What did I tell you? ZERO loss of engagement. BAM!

Editor in Chief

Big blogs have another advantage. They have a full time staff.

It takes time to coordinate guest posts. Edit them. Create author bios. And bunch of other tedious nonsense.

Reblog takes care of it all.

Oprah Approved

When Reblog feature was still in the skunkworks phase, we called it Project Oprah, because it was truly inspired by her.

You see, Oprah tapes her show in Chicago. But then, that show gets syndicated across 100s of TV stations across the world.

Does Oprah care her content is not shown on “her” TV station? Nope. She only cares that you see her content, and that you know that it’s her who created that content.

There, It’s Done

People have been asking me for months to write a post specifically addressing the duplicate content issue.

I hope this covers it. And I hope you Reblog this post. 🙂

Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi 🙂

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  • Lisa Tener

    I think I wasn’t that clear in my question. So, I just want to make sure I get this right from the search engine perspective. If I reblog, Google does not give me credit for that post (which makes sense and I get that part) but are you also saying it doesn’t give me any negative marks for duplicating someone else’s content? Because the reason I haven’t reblogged is a concern that this somehow would mark my blog as being less original or even a negative in Google’s eyes.

    • Dino Dogan

      well..Huffington Post doesnt get penalized for it, so why should we?

      Now, check out this little piece of nasty business ….

      If you keep reblogging other people’s posts, Google may in fact give you a higher ranking due to publishing frequency.

      This is why big blogs publish dozens of times per day and more.

      And this publishing frequency business doesnt get talked about much, but it seams to be a very high factor on google’s authority rank.

      • Barbara Charles

        Hi Dino,
        I’ve tried some reblogging when it first came out. Liked the idea. But is the question really answered? You say ‘Huffing Post doesn’t get penalized for it, so why should we,?’ but do we know that for sure. That’s what I’d like to know. Do they not get penalized because’ they are who they are’ as described in article? I’d love to use this feature in Triberr much more. Please advise.

        • Dino Dogan

          It’s all a matter of perspective. So let’s break it up into original author perspective, and syndicator perspective. Ready? 🙂

          When I write a post, and you reblog it, I will not be penalized by google because google will have me as the original publisher, my time stamp will be older than yours, and given the fact that our blogs are of relatively same authority, I (the original author) will appear higher in search results.

          This is as it should be.

          So you, the syndicator, wont get punished, you just wont get rewarded with the highest ranking.

          Reblogged posts therefore will have to take in traffic from RSS subscribers, and social shares, rather than google traffic.

          However, when someone like HuffPo syndicated our content, they win the search war hands down because of their ranking authority.


          • Barbara Charles

            Wow! First, thanks for your quick response. I appreciate that.
            Second…o.k. that sounds good.

            I would like to do more reblogging, but find it difficult to find really good articles that I would like to reblog. I tried this before and my results (commenting was not as good – almost non-existence although I thought the articles were good). I was actually going to write a post on that. 🙂 But didn’t understand. This article (and you) really explains it well (for the first time I *really* understand it.

            This article is a good one I think, but it is probably off my stream now (I think it posted 10 months ago). Is there a way to reblog if it’s off your stream. Sorry if I’m asking dumb questions.


          • Dino Dogan

            Thats a perfectly valid question.

            Short answer is no, or at least, not yet. Here’s why.

            1. I had to uninstall the Triberr plugin (which makes the article rebloggable and ads Triberr commenting) due to some issues, which we’re working on fixing up.

            2. You cant go that far back (10 months). Not yet, anyways.

            Here’s how to do it right.

            I’ve set up a Reblogging tribe for myself. It’s bunch of folks whose content is killer, they have the Triberr plugin, they’re using Triberr comments, and they understand the benefit of reblog.

            If you plan on doing this as a content strategy, I’d recommend you do the same.

            Having said all that, we’re in the midst of a major overhaul of the Triberr plugin, reblog, triberr comments, and everything related.

            You may wanna give it a month or two before you start doing it seriously because by then, we’ll have the next gen reblog out 🙂

          • Barbara Charles

            O.K. Sounds like a plan. I’ll wait til the next update. I’d like to try it with great content. I’m definitely interested in the Reblogging tribe. Cool. Thanks for the info and the help.

  • Karla Campos

    “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site
    unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be
    deceptive and manipulate search engine results” excerpt from this post from Google last updated 10/16/12, it seems to say it is OK to reblog if done properly and gives suggestions on how to go about syndicating your content.

  • gracebolt

    offcourse i have heard that content is a king! and it should be!!

  • Skip Prichard

    This is the most thoughtful and comprehensive post I’ve seen on this subject. I have always been told to never, ever syndicate content. Now the “why” behind it makes sense. Thanks, Dino.

    • Dino Dogan

      Thnx Skip. I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  • Shane

    Great article, sheds a lot of light. But I’m wondering (and no one may know) how you manage to outrank HuffPost and Forbes when they reblog your content. Is it flat out impossible due to the nature of their domain authority? Or are there steps you can take (like incorporating Google authorship snippets, embed codes with links back, etc.) to outrank them if you are the original provider of content?

  • Eesha M

    Great piece of information. Super simply explained. I fell in love with your style of writing, and now I’m a permanent follower. Thanks!

    • Dino Dogan

      Thank you, I appreciate that 🙂

      I’m mostly blogging on these days.

  • Dexter Roona

    great article this covers all the duplication questions i had, only thing is i wil probably have to read this 2 or 3 more times to let it all sink in
    regards Dexter Roona

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