Duplicate Content, Google Alerts and Your SEO
When deciding what content to put on your site, you always want to have fresh, unique content that does not appear anywhere else on the internet. Duplicate content can result in your site getting penalized by Google, which can lead to indexing and ranking issues. This can impact your SEO and the visibility of your site. On top of the direct impact to SEO, it can make users trust your site less and not think of it as a primary source, which can push traffic elsewhere and compromise your perceived authority among your audience. Users have many options. You must set yourself apart very clearly with unique content.
It is important to note that you might not get a direct penalty from Google if you have repeated content. However, it can result in users ultimately ending up at a competing site, which lowers your traffic numbers. You want to make sure that your site is the only one that offers that specific content and information.
It may seem appealing to use duplicate content. Perhaps it has done well in another space, and there's no use in reinventing the wheel, right? Unfortunately, taking the easy route and using duplicate content can compromise the integrity and ranking of your site, which is certainly not worth it and can undermine your other SEO efforts.
Spam and Google Alerts
Now, perhaps you already know that you do not want to use duplicate content intentionally. Even so, you need to be aware that scammers and spam sites may actively steal your content and use it without your permission. This can also hinder your traffic -- which is exactly what the scammers are after -- and it is very important that you report these malicious sites whenever you encounter them.
One way that this has been happening lately, according to recent reports, is through Google Alerts. In order to direct traffic to malicious sites, scammers have been using stolen content and related keywords, which Google Alerts then picks up and pushes to users. These sites may appear legitimate, especially when they arrive in this manner, which can direct traffic to them. In many cases, the goal is to install viruses or steal information. The content is simply used to spark the user's interest and make the site appear both relevant and trustworthy.
In some cases, people have reported entire sites being copied. All of the content is duplicated in a comprehensive attack. Experts have said this should not negatively impact the original site, but it can sow some seeds of distrust among users who click on these links. It can also lead to the same issues noted above in making a legitimate site appear generic -- even though that site hosted the unique content originally. Again, it is important to report these sites so that users can easily find what they are actually looking for, keeping your traffic numbers and ranking as high as possible.
It is also worth considering the presence of backlinks. In some cases, this duplicated content could wind up linking to your actual site. Google will see this as a low-quality link -- as it should -- and that does not help your site's reputation. These types of links are possible, especially when entire websites are copied and duplicated.
What Can You Do?
While you may not always be able to protect your own content from being duplicated for malicious reasons, these examples do help to illustrate the importance of unique content. It helps build trust with readers. It helps draw in as much traffic as possible. It stops your site from appearing generic and makes it clear that you are an authoritative source. All of this is very important when considering SEO, as the relationship with both the user and the search engine is very important. Make sure you know how to report malicious sites, how to watch out for any Google Alerts attacks and how to create a website with fresh, authoritative content that sets you apart.