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Incoming links from pages with identical content

will it help or hurt either of the pages?

     
12:00 am on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have several sites that I want to share certain content with each other. I'm concerned about possible duplicate content problems. Here's the scenario:

Site "A" has a page with an article. Sites "B" and "C" reproduce that article, verbatim, on their websites, and also include a link to the page at site "A" that contains the original article.

Questions:
Would sites "B" and "C" be penalized for having duplicate content?
Might the page at site "A" get a boost in the SERPs for having two sites, with identical content, pointing to it? Note that site A is not linking back to sites "B" and "C".

My guess is that sites "B" and "C" will not be penalized, but that the pages containing the articles will be omitted from search results and nothing more.

I would also guess that the page with the original article at site "A" might seem more important to search engines than it would if sites "B" and "C" were not pointing to it at all.

Anyone have any insight on this? Thanks!

Phil

1:55 am on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Search engines, Google in particular, do not like duplicate content; drawing this to their attention with direct links seems - to put it politely - an unwise decision.

Which pages the SEs decide to list is up to them, and you would be (a) unwise and (b) wrong, to make any prediction as to which (if any) of your clones get listed.

Search engines, Google in particular, do not like link exchanges which are clearly designed to game the SEs, with zero benefit to visitors; drawing this to their attention with direct links seems - to put it politely - an unwise decision.

Before you proceed with your planned SEO suicide, may I suggest you read some SE guidelines, and maybe a little more of these forums?

9:18 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Thanks Quadrille, I appreciate the feedback, and I get what you're saying about "gaming the SEs"...

My goal is not to manipulate the SEs, but to allow the different sites to promote each other while at the same time giving their users a larger selection of relevant content. It's basically just a form of syndication, like RSS feeds, if you think about it.

The truth is, I'd be perfectly happy to place a "no index,no follow" tag or "no index,follow" tag on each of the pages that duplicate the original content. So based on the previous scenario, I'd place those tags on the pages on sites "B" and "C", but not on site "A" - the one where the article originated in the first place.

Like I said, I'm not trying to manipulate the SEs - but then I don't want to pass up any positive effects if any are to be had, know what I mean?

I see all these sites using RSS and ATOM feeds... and then there are those "free articles" sites, which are nothing but dupe content, yet often rank like crazy in the SERPs, and I have to wonder: are the sites that use those RSS feeds or free articles actually penalized?

And just to be clear, I wouldn't consider having a page listed in the SEs supplemental results a "penalty". As long as other pages on the sites were not affected negatively, then that would be fine.

10:25 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Site "A" has a page with an article. Sites "B" and "C" reproduce that article, verbatim.

My goal is not to manipulate the SEs, but to allow the different sites to promote each other while at the same time giving their users a larger selection of relevant content.

You are not giving users a larger selection, you are giving them a duplicate selection - what conceivable value is there for users to to have a "larger selection" of "that article, verbatim"? None, in this reality.

If that was really your intention, the simple, obvious and best-SEO solution would be to have just one site. Period.

If your intention is not to game the SEs, why bother with your Machievellian tortologous labrynth?

[edited by: Quadrille at 10:27 pm (utc) on Feb. 26, 2007]

11:36 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

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With all due respect, Quadrille, just because you yourself are not able to instantly imagine a scenario where this kind of syndication is valuable to it's users, that doesn't mean that it's "inconceivable".

I go to a news stand and I have a choice of USA Today, The NY Times, and the Washington Times - all of which print Dave Berry's humor column verbatim. They also print many identical AP articles. And I'm glad they do it this way - maybe I don't want to read 10 different newspapers to get the information I seek.

And maybe I don't want to have to click a link and go to YouTube to see a video that is relevant to the website that I happen to already be on. That's why I'm glad that YouTube has a way of allowing websites to show YouTube videos on their sites. It saves me a couple of clicks, and does not disrupt my flow.

I'm not trying to get into a debate about the value of reproduced material, I'm simply pointing out that it's pretty standard, and obviously many people find value in it. It's just syndication. It's not inherently evil, even if some webmasters do try to abuse it in some way or another.

And did you miss the part where I said that I'd be happy to place a "no index, no follow" tag on the pages with dupe content? Does that sound like someone whose primary goal is to manipulate the SEs?

The bottom line is this: I want to allow these different sites to share/syndicate their content, and I'm doing it because I think it helps the users and the webmasters involved. I'm not asking for advice on ethics. What I'm planning hurts absolutely no one. I just don't want to be penalized for it. If the only way to do that is to prevent the SEs from indexing those pages, then so be it. But I don't want to do that unless it's necessary. That's basically my question - is it necessary?.

Also, I don't know what the word "tortologous" means, so maybe you could clarify. Did you mean "tautologous"? As in "unnecessarily repetitive"?

Phil

12:19 am on Feb 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm sorry my spelling does not meet your standards; otherwise I stand by my every word.

There is inconceivable visitor value for three linked sites to hold identical content; your analogy is not particularly relevant as you generally don't get hypertext links in newspapers (well, we don't in the UK, anyway).

This isn't about syndication, is it? In your own words, they are three sites with one owner and pretty much the same content; I see no parallels with youtube or anyone else.

You stated, "My goal is not to manipulate the SEs"

My question still stands unanswered; "If your intention is not to game the SEs, why bother?"

If you are so keen to help your visitors get what they want in one place, why ignore my commonsense suggestion to merge the three clone sites?

Apologies in advance for any typos.

4:29 am on Feb 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I really didn't want to get sucked into a debate, but here we go:

I'm sorry my spelling does not meet your standards;

heh heh - sorry about that remark, Quadrille, I just can't resist giving a little jab when someone whips out the fancy vocabulary and then uses the wrong word. Kind of childish of me, my apologies.

There is inconceivable visitor value for three linked sites to hold identical content; your analogy is not particularly relevant as you generally don't get hypertext links in newspapers (well, we don't in the UK, anyway).

Our newspapers don't have hyperlinks either. But CNN.com, USAToday.com, NYTimes.com, etc., do have hyperlinks. They also have RSS feeds, which many other sites use. This is sharing content.

This isn't about syndication, is it? In your own words, they are three sites with one owner and pretty much the same content; I see no parallels with youtube or anyone else.

No, I never said that they had one owner and "pretty much the same content". Those are not "my own words" those are your words, and are based on assumptions you've made. I said "I have several sites that I want to share certain content with each other". The fact is, I'm hosting the sites, and while I do have some input, I am not the webmaster of those sites, and do not actually create the content myself. You don't know all the details.

You stated, "My goal is not to manipulate the SEs" My question still stands unanswered; "If your intention is not to game the SEs, why bother?

Because this is how I want to do it. I don't see a need to explain the entire model to you. You'll just have to trust me that I'm not trying to game the SEs. Like I said, I'll gladly put "no index, no follow" tags on the pages with dupe content if that's what I have to do.

If you are so keen to help your visitors get what they want in one place, why ignore my commonsense suggestion to merge the three clone sites?

They aren't clone sites, and that solution just doesn't work for me or the other webmasters involved.

In my opinion, allowing these authors to share content enriches the user experience. Considering the general themes of the sites involved, and the areas where they overlap, it makes sense to us to do it this way. They are not "clone sites". I'm talking about sharing certain articles across a small network of different websites, all of which have a lot of original, non-duplicated content.

If you don't approve of that, that's cool with me. I understand that you think that duplicate content is absolutely worthless in any situation imaginable - I get that. I feel differently. Let's just call it a difference in philosophies.

Apologies in advance for any typos.

Ah, Is that some of that famous British sarcasm there? I love it.

Listen, Q, no hard feelings, I really do know where you're coming from, and your assumptions are reasonable, but they are assumptions. This really is not an attempt to manipulate the SEs. I have an idea that I think is good, and I want to try it out. I'm creative and adventurous that way, what can I say? I just don't want to get in trouble with Google while I'm doing it, so I'm asking a question about duplicate content, which hasn't really been answered. If you do have some advice - besides merging the sites - that would be great. And if not, then that's cool too. But please, no more ethics lectures, ok?

Phil

11:37 am on Feb 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I've read and reread my posts and failed to find one single ethics lecture (or anything pertaining to it).

I was actually happy to give to purely practical advice, but I needed to understand what you actually wanted to achieve; you gave the detail, but not the overview.

I couldn't see (still can't, for that matter), what the point was, and wanted to clarify that.

As you specifically denied wanting to game the SEs, the mystery deepened. If my questions came across as an ethics lecture, then I can only assume your conscience is doing the lecturing - because I wasn't.

Another assumption; please don't get upset, but without straight answers, what else can I do?