duplicate_content_rulesAs an internet marketer, it’s likely that your content is the lifeblood of your business. You expend a lot of effort creating high quality content, but it’s always possible that as soon as you gain visibility someone else is going to duplicate it.

So what can you do? Will your site be penalized for containing duplicate content? What about if you use a quote or excerpt from someone else’s site, is that ‘Google legal’?

In this post I’ll address the basics of what you need to know about duplicate content rules.

An Overview of Duplicate Content

The first thing you need to know about duplicate content rules is that they aren’t actually legal laws at all. The act of incorporating duplicate content has nothing to do with copyright issues, though the two can sometimes become intertwined.

By itself, duplicate content is simply a reference to Google and other search engine’s policies that state that original, quality content is a mark of a good site. Copying and pasting an article from one site to place onto your site won’t get you any credit for an extra page index or in terms of ranking in SEO. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Some Duplicate Content Is OK

No site is 100% unique, and Google expects duplicate content to crop up sometimes. This is ok, and you shouldn’t worry too much about it, but you can check to see which pages were flagged as duplicated and even track down the offending source on the other end of the line.

Actively monitoring this data is a good idea if duplicate content jumps above the 5-10% mark on your site.

Quotes and Excerpts Are Not Duplicate Content

Another point to bring up is that a lot of bloggers worry that if they use direct quotations, citations, or other excerpts, their sites will crop up on the duplicate content radar.

This is only true if the excerpt or quote you use is exceptionally long, and will not apply to most normal uses of quoted material.

If the quote or excerpt forms more than 50% of the page content, however, or is more than a few hundred words long, it may be flagged as representing duplicate content.

Again, having a page or two here and there that get flagged as potential sources of duplicate content is not necessarily a bad thing. Just don’t let it become a significant portion of your website.

Monitor Activity With Content Scanners

One trick you can use to make sure your content is not duplicated is to use web crawling software to monitor duplicate content. This software can alert you when someone else uses your material, and is also good to use to make sure the content you are putting up isn’t already online somewhere else.

This trick is especially useful if you ever decide to outsource content production, since you can easily scan submitted articles to ensure they are original before putting them up on your blog.