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  1. Dinosaur
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    Duplicate content myth


    Just over 3 months ago we setup a test, we (myself and Thomas Harvey) threw a site together using nothing but copied content.
    OK I grant you there is a few sentences here and there that are unique but the majority of the site is just copied (with permission)

    Well now after 3 months things have settled down and google reports 302,000 results in SERPS. using the site: operator.
    431 keywords on page 1, 794 keywords on page 2.

    Traffic to the site is now approaching 50,000 uniques a month and growing.

    Now when I see duplicate content is bad and will I get a penalty for using this paragraph or sentence from xyz it just dont hold true.
    The site has no backlink activity so besides letting a few people know what we was doing no external links have been built (mostly on here).
    So the rankings have come mostly using onsite SEO techniques.

    if you want to read how this test was done you can read more about it here Awesome SEO experiment by our members!
    Owner of Page Explorer the page onsite SEO checker
    Useful Tools: Site Statistics: SEM Rush | Site Crawler: Screaming Frog
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    Hi Chedders - very interesting indeed. Certainly the duplicate content is less of an issue than people think - I think even Google have said that themselves over the past couple of years.
    Happy New Year from another Uk'er!
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    Nice work. I read through this a while back and still have a few questions..

    I think it mentions that you don't expect to rank for competitive keywords and that you are getting this traffic via long tails - correct?

    I am interested in knowing how you compete with the scraped site on competitive phrases. I've been in this situation before (many years back) and found that both sites wouldn't rank for the same (competitive) keyword. Did you find this to be true?

    thanks,
    Philip
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  7. Dinosaur
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    Its all been aimed totally at low competitive long tail terms really,so things like "belikin beer uk" as a random example. I think we are currently 5th but there are so many keywords to go for it honestly could be anything. We are currently targeting around 1 million long tail phrases but that will easily double over the coming weeks, Its more about volume than going after a few highly competitive terms, its all the odd phrases most sites wont be going for as the volumes are too low to make it worth their while going for.

    Even from these long tail words a pretty decent foot fall can be achieved, 50k users a month I think is pretty good without any backlink or marketing campaign and just picking up the scraps others are leaving behind.

    I must admit its opened my eyes to just how much you can gain if you forget the big keywords and spend your time on the smaller stuff. many a mickle makes a muckle as the saying goes.

    But the real reason for the post was because we get so many posts here asking about duplicate content and this experimentally site is unashamedly built with duplicate content. that was the whole point. Can it achieve traffic using content that can be found elsewhere on the net.
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    Well it is quite amazing Chedders, and without backlinks? I would not have imagined. I suppose you attribute the success to the shear size of the site? I think we have the answer why so many scraper sites are out there doing this very thing...

    But one question still remains for me. How does Google treat the competing sites on a per keyword basis? Has the algorithm changed, and they now allow both sites to vie for the same keyword with the same content (identical page)? I have never experienced this in the past, though I am open to the algo having changed. But even with your amazing success, I can't dismiss duplicate content being a factor unless Google will now allow two sites to rank for the same keyword with identical pages.
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    I would think there are only so many ways to describe "Iphone Ear Buds". Walmart sells them, Amazon sells them, I bet Chedders even has them on the experimental site.

    The point being Best Buy, Walmart, Target, K-Mart all sell the same consumer goods. How could Google penalize one without doing the same for the others. This would imply 1st come 1st served, and all other sites could never succeed ! The duplicate content issue is more of a plagiarism issue about content and site cloning, rather than about product descriptions, but this is just my opinion!! If you consider the surrounding pages and Brand Name of the site, in addition to surrounding content on the page, then the intent becomes clear what the site is attempting to do. Google is quite adept in determining this.

    Google I think understands that the local store may in fact carry Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, same as a national grocery store chain will carry Ben & Jerry's. Who would be better at describing the product, Ben & Jerry of course. So it seems natural to use their product info.

    If there was a penalty for using for dup content. Then all dictionary sites would be folded into one listing. Google would look bleak and empty and they would not be the search engine they are today and we would not be having this discussion.

    Here is an example... suppose you live in Dubois, Wyoming. One of the least populous states we have. Search Google for 't-shirts size large", and you don't live in Cheyenne, who are they going to show, walmart, or a local store. On I-80 there once was a stretch of road where there was no place to buy gas / petrol for a couple of hundred miles, I drove this route in 1993, the sign was at the border of Utah and Wyoming, Last Chance to Get Gas for 200 Miles, fill up Now! , damn bleak it is, but it has changed since then.
    Last edited by KnowOneSpecial; Dec 31st, 2016 at 10:45 AM. Reason: Forgot the add the city name in Wyoming
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  13. Dinosaur
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    I do think intent comes into play a lot here. Google do spot spammy scrapper sites and have become clever in understand the difference between the 2. We have all seen these spam sites around and there is no point to them except to try and get ad revenue from stolen content. At least I am attempting to collate simular content for the user from multiple sources.

    It will be interesting to see if google treat this site as adding value to the copied content and it remains ranking or if at some point it just bombs. Time will tell and I will post any major movements with it either way.

    As for how google treats competing keywords, I dont think much has changed, we dont have many keywords in position 1, just 4 the last time I looked and to be honest that's what I would have expected as we are not a authority in any niche so it is quite easy for a competitor to outrank us on a keyword by keyword basis if they wanted to.
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    I thought it interesting that I ran across this in BING Webmaster Guidelines:

    Duplicate content

    Duplicating content across multiple URLs can lead to Bing losing trust in some of those URLs over time. This issue should be managed by fixing the root cause of the problem. The rel=canonical element can also be used but should be seen as a secondary solution to that of fixing the core problem. If excessive parameterization is causing duplicate content issue, we encourage you to use the Ignore URL Parameters tool.

    Comments on this post

    • markroberts agrees : Hmmm! Good find - I never knew this was how they viewed it...kind of a strange way for them to address the issue!
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    I wonder if loss in trust would directly correlate to an equal loss in organic bing serps.
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    Originally Posted by KnowOneSpecial
    I wonder if loss in trust would directly correlate to an equal loss in organic bing serps.

    It would seem to imply that. I am really surprised to find it addressed in this way. But I have certainly experienced duplicate content issues in the past.
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    Only onsite optimization and no backlinks? seriously? You haven't done any social media promotions? That could count as a backlink, you know. You said 0 backlink. Wow. Three months and up to 50K UV. That's pretty impressive. Can you really do that? May I know which site are you referring to?
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    Xen-G

    the site we are discusing is zebo.co.uk a site by Chedders and ThomasHarvey
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  25. Dinosaur
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    I have posted about it on my blog and Thomas did as well, when we started an article was posted here and I believe one of the tools websites we used for gathering keywords posted a version to show how some people use their tool (we now have our own).Both mine and thomas's blogs are not major sites, My blog gets less than 10 visitors a day so the page rank that passed was pretty worthless. Mine is just random posts I put up as and when covering all sorts of topics so its hardly within the same niche either. Thomas's is more about SEO and the services he offers so again no great value.

    These I think are the only backlinks we are responsible for that I know of. If you find others then they are organic and nothing to do with us. The links we posted really was talking about what we was attempting to do and anchor text was just the brand but we was both keen not to do a major backlinking campaign.

    As for traffic we saw a dip over the christmas period which was expected but since then the traffic has returned and continued to grow. Currently running around the 2k uniques a day.

    If it continues then I will move the site to its own server as currently its hosted on one of my servers which I have other sites running on which is not ideal

    Over the last couple of weeks I have been working on a better design for the site, The current one has many errors cosmetically, but the new one address's these issues and we are hoping the CTR will be increased by a better UX. Unfortunately as this is not a wordpress site its not quite as simple as just selecting a new template.
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  27. Dinosaur
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    On the same topic but different site.

    My daughter has had a health and beauty site for a number of years, I wrote it for her years ago, when it was launched it was state of the art (for its day) however its been left and was now performing badly. Some days no traffic at all. So I had an idea, just prior to Christmas I decided to use a similar concept that we used on zebo and turn her site into a affiliate site.

    I borrowed a lot of the code already written for the zebo project but limited the results to just health and beauty and only used eBay as a source. I wanted to see if narrowing down the listings could still be successful.
    Roughly 4 weeks from putting it live I received an email from google.

    Major spam problems on xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    To: Webmaster of xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Google has detected that your site violates our Webmaster Guidelines. Because this critical issue lowers the quality of search results for users, Google has prevented the offending pages from showing in Google Search results. This manual spam action has been applied to xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. To reinstate your site, you must significantly change the content to conform to our guidelines. Only after making those changes should you submit a reconsideration request in order to have your content included in Google Search results.

    Fix this problem now:

    1 Update your pages to meet Google Webmaster Guidelines
    Make sure that your revised content is original and relevant to your site.
    2 Submit a reconsideration request
    Remember: We reject reconsideration requests consisting of empty or blank sites. Include any details or documentation about what content you have changed.




    I believe that because I was just showing results from a single source and I was not offering anything different from the original source for the user so google deem this as Major spam. (their words)

    To be honest this is quite encouraging although disappointing for my daughter, Google has detected that its just a duplicate and taken out the clone,
    Most webmasters who fear their content can just be stolen this should be of some comfort.

    My conclusion is unless you add value to the stolen content then Google may take action and treat it as spam.
    Does this prove there is a penalty for duplicate content, ? I think that may depend on your definition, google define it as spam which is fair enough,

    Zebo as its taking many sources and collating the results appears for now at least to be treated differently. Time will tell if Google at some point see the site as pure spam.

    Comments on this post

    • DirectHits agrees : Dup Content is a gray area.
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  29. UK Based SEO
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    Been watching this, obviously the testing etc shows that duplicate content can work to some degree, but realistically there is no meta description, underscores in the URLS and god knows what else wrong with the pages

    Its clearly been slapped together and hats of for testing, and getting that type of traffic.

    I highly doubt the site gets anywhere near 50k in visitors but it does rank for 20,000+ keywords all pretty much on page 2 and below hence why id love to see a screenshot of the analytics.

    Obviously one line of text can be enough to rank for obscure keywords, and this site IMO opinion will end up being penalised for the duplicate content eventually.

    Getting whatever traffic to this test website is great, but whether that is quality from organic search and rankings over the fact its being posted on popular forums opens up the debate as to where the traffic is coming from and what value there is in that traffic.

    Would love to see more on the analytics side to see more about this traffic
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