Natalie, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, is a freelance writer who is always searching for what lies within the potential.
Anyone who creates content for a living will tell you that this is something that takes a lot of time and effort. Coming up with ideas, finding unique spins on what is already out there, developing the concept into a well organized and clear presentation, editing, formatting, and the need to post content everywhere all the time can make creators feel burnt out. It often feels like just as soon as you’ve completed one article or video, you immediately have to start on the next.
Duplicate Content and Using Canonical Links
One way to decrease creator burnout is to determine how to repurpose content so you can post it on more than one site. However, there are problems with doing this that actually can lead to you receiving less traffic from several sites than you would if you only posted it on a single site.
Many people have written about the myth of the duplicate content penalty often believed to be assessed by search engines. However, to be clear, duplicate content is not considered a reason for action unless it’s determined that the intent is to manipulate search results.
While not technically a penalty, at least not in the way most people mean it, duplicate content can still sometimes affect rankings. When there are multiple copies of the same content in different places, Google can have difficulty determining which version is the most relevant to a specific query.
The most common way of handling duplicate content is to use canonical tags or links. These are used to consolidate signals and pick your preferred version. Essentially, these single out the source you want to have ranked so that when search engines come across other versions, they consider them secondary.
How to Decide If and Where to Post Duplicate Content
Some people will post exactly the same content in multiple places. If you use canonical links this may help you get more views but it also may not. It all depends on how you choose the sites you are posting to. I think one of the most important things to decide if you are going to post duplicate content, is which sites you will post to.
If you post identical content to sites that are likely to have the same audience, this isn’t likely to help you. A good way to determine this, is by the type of content that is posted on the site.
When I consider posting duplicate content, I usually choose between three sites. These are Hubpages, Medium and Newsbreak. I have chosen these three because readers are usually looking for different things on each of these sites.
Hubpages publishes long form magazine type articles, that often have references. Their audience comes primarily from search engines.
Newsbreak tends to publish local news though they have said they intend to add more content written by experts. Their readers generally also come from search engines.
Medium publishes all types of content though you find more content that is similar to what you find on blogs, which you don’t find on the other two sites. Readers are mostly internal from platform members.
How to Manage Content Planning, Production and Posting
I sometimes will post a story to all three sites, since they tend to draw different readers. However, each site emphasizes a different style and/or format, so this take some work since the story needs to be reworked for each site.
I go about this by determining beforehand which sites I’ll post the story to, starting with whatever would be the longest version (usually Hubpages). Then I edit it down while reworking it and changing the style for one or both of the other sites.
To make them appear even more dissimilar to search engines, I change the headlines and subheadlines, as well as the photo. Sometimes I will also divide a longer story used on one site into two shorter posts that can be used separately on one or both of the other sites.
In order to streamline my writing as much as possible, I try to gather the information I’ll use for all of the versions as I go. I put a line at the end of the version I’m working on, then list the additional information below it, with abbreviations in parentheses to denote which site each bit of information will be used for.
Another method I use to organize my content, and plan which sites each will go to, is a whiteboard. I divide the board into different areas, one for each site with areas below each for marketing methods. I list story ideas on index cards attached with magnets for each area with each site assigned a different color card. When a story will be posted to more than one site, I place it under the primary site it will first be posted to (Hubpages requires any duplicate content on their site to be posted there first), then use magic markers to add the right color boxes to the card which denote the other site/sites the story will be published to.
This process takes practice to do efficiently and most stories won’t work on all three platforms. But even if I can fit a story to two different sites it helps increase my income with less time and work than it would take to write two different stories.
While search engines will not penalize you directly for posting duplicate content, there are problems that can occur depending on how you handle your content and where you post it to. If you are going to post duplicate content, strategize which sites you will post to in order to minimize the chance that you’ll end up with the same audience on each site. Also try to change each version somewhat for search engines and use canonical links so search engines know which version to rank. Decide ahead of time which sites a story will be posted to and gather all the information for each version you will produce as you go so when you finish the first version you already have everything you need to rework the piece for wherever else you will be publishing it.
© 2021 Natalie Frank