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Why is duplicate content wrong?

I’m working with a client that publishes several magazines, and they’ve been working in the offline sphere for a good number of years. 

They are expected at what they do in that sector; however, they are moving further and further into the online space, and there are some issues arising with processes, knowledge and staff resistance. 

As a freelance SEO consultant, I’ve often seen this type of thing. Change is always challenging and it’s essential to take the staff with you and empower them. I recently sent an email to explain why duplicate content is a bad idea; this is an adapted version.

Can I copy text from another website and use it on my own?

Replication of content online is frowned upon. This is because it is so easy to do.  A few years ago, Google became much tougher on the way it handled duplicate content because so much content was being copied and pasted from one site to another (scraping content) that they struggled to work out what the original was. 

To combat this, Google started to discount duplicate content or removed the weight placed on the duplicates. In some instances, there are occasions that sections of content should be duplicated – such as speech; Google understands this and gives leeway for it – however, on the whole, it should be avoided where possible. 

Too much duplicate content on a site can result in a sitewide penalty. In this situation, Google would reduce the rankings of a website.

managing reputation is important for SEO

What’s Google’s problem with duplicate content?

One of the best ways to think about why Google became so tough on this was because it was increasing its costs exponentially. 

The more content there is, the more servers they need to query the internet and the more development they have to put into their algorithm to work out what’s going on – it’s much more cost-effective to penalise websites that regularly duplicate content.

Please see Google’s Guidelines on the subject:


Google uses several services to determine which content is original. One such service you can look at is Copyscape – you can see if the content on your website is lifted from another source or if you are considered to have copied another source:


What should I do with the press releases I’m sent?

I generally find rewriting 800 words for word (resulting in the same article only rewritten, so the content is no longer duplicated) takes around 20 minutes. 

Which isn’t bad going to create something weighty and unique. In doing this, you are bound to add your thoughts and pointers that make the content unique and valuable.

Fundamentally though, having worked as a and with journalists at various points in my career, I consider copying verbatim to be sloppy journalism and not something that I would have been able to get away with, with my old editor – the web should be no different!!

Why is duplicate content wrong?

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