Hello, If I were to use some free articles (that some companies let you publish) does that hurt the overall search position for my site? (Because of the duplicate content). Or does it just not do well for that page? There are some articles I'd like to put on my site but I don't want to hurt myself in the long run.
It only effects the page it's on. There's some unknown variables here, though, as there have been reports that sites with 60-70% of their pages being duplicate content getting a sitewide degrade.
However, unless you're going to republish content for the majority of your pages, it will only effect the page that it's on. If you're really worried about it, you can just tell the robots to ignore that page.
Look at other sites that post such articles and then search for the following in Google;
and you will probably see Supplemental Results on every article, which is a penalty.
I would only accept original articles that the author promises to not publish elsewhere and then search for text of that article before you publish it to make sure someone else hasn't posted it first because if they have you will likely be the one to get the SR penalty.
Recently I have distributed a few articles by way of the free article banks. Each article has a link back to my site. One article has over 15,000 references to it when you search the title with Google. I started this about a month ago. Last week my site vanished from its top rankings with Google. The site vistors also decreased from 1000 unique visits each day to less than 100. Does anyone think the articles which created a sudden increase in links back to my site had anything to do with it. Jim