Double Vision

The problem of duplicate content has become a major issue in the writing and search engine optimization (SEO) worlds. Those who work in SEO are talking more and more about duplicate content, but there’s still some confusion as to what it is and what can be done about it.

Let’s explore three different areas regarding duplicate content: what it is, why it’s looked down upon, and how to cite sources while avoiding duplicate content.

Image Credit: “Duplicate Original” by woodleywonderworks

  •  What is duplicate content?

Duplicate content is text that shows up in the same format on several different websites, blogs, etc. In some cases, duplicate content occurs because writers, webmasters, and others are trying to promote their work and the causes they’re advocating for. However, this is the wrong way to reach a broader audience. Other times, duplicate content is produced when Web users find articles and posts that they enjoy and want to share with others. If they copy and paste the text into a Web page or blog post, duplicate content is created, even if credit is given to the author.

  • Why is duplicate content bad?

Duplicate content confuses search engines such as Google. Many times, Google doesn’t know which is the original source, thus it picks one of the URLs where the content appears as the source to display on search result pages. This means the original source may be thrown to the wayside and the author won’t receive credit. In addition, those who post duplicate content may be viewed as not having anything meaningful to add to the conversation. Copying and pasting someone else’s work into a new location doesn’t create a new primary source, but rather establishes another secondary source. What value does this have and how is this expanding the information available to Web users?

  • How can sources be cited in a way that avoids duplicate content?

The best way to cite sources in an article or blog post is to use only excerpts from them. Block quotes don’t fall under that category, but short quotes are acceptable. Of course, the original source must be cited in all cases or else it will be considered plagiarism.

Valuable resources should be used as inspiration for original content. Search engines take into consideration not only how often websites are posting, but also the quality of the material being produced, when ranking websites.


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