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Is Google Okay With Multiple Variations of the Same Content?

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Is Google Okay With Multiple Variations of the Same Content?

In a Google SEO office-hours, John Mueller answers if it’s okay for publishers to copy their own content and publish it, essentially copying parts of their own content in order to create similar but different content. John Mueller said that it’s okay up to the point where it’s no longer okay and then offered an explanation of where that point is.

Self-Plagiarizing?

The person asking the question framed it as a publisher “plagiarizing” themselves. But that’s a misuse of the word plagiarize because the definition of plagiarism is taking content from someone else and then misrepresenting it as ones own.

Obviously, one cannot plagiarizing oneself just as one can’t steal from oneself.

What the person asking the question really means is copying their own content.

This is the question asked:

“Is Google okay with publishers plagiarizing their own content?

For example, I wrote an affiliate article suggesting something for mom. Can I copy the content of that article to write more articles for maybe a sister or a wife or an aunt or a grandmother?”

Reusing Content

Mueller noted the misuse of the word plagiarize and spoke about that.

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Mueller answered:

“So… I don’t know like what the full definition of plagiarizing is. But it seems like if you’re reusing your own content that’s not really plagiarizing, well at least the way that I understand it.

From Google’s point of view, if you’re taking content from your own website and publishing that again with some elements of the page changed, that’s essentially up to you.”

Content Should Focus on Value

A lot of times we can think of content in terms of how Google might respond. But Google’s response is generally based on how much value that page is providing to the site visitors.

Mueller continued his answer:

“And it’s something where my assumption is in many cases you’re not providing a lot of value by just copying the existing article and changing some of the words on it.

So my feeling is, from a strategic point of view, probably you would be better suited writing something unique and compelling for those topics or to create one article that covers kind of these different variations.

So that’s something kind of like from a strategic point of view that I would recommend.

But purely from a policy point of view, I don’t think there’s anything specifically in the way of you taking individual articles and then making …a handful of copies of that.

So that’s something where like from …purely a practical point of view, that’s kind of up to you.

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But my recommendation’s really kind of make fewer articles that are actually really good.”

Doorway Pages

What the person asking the question is somewhat alluding to is a variation of doorway pages.

An old-school approach for sites was to create pages of content targeting all fifty states in the United States and for each state create web pages corresponding to the top twenty or so cities by population.

The pages would essentially be the same, only the names of the states and the cities were different.

Google calls those doorway pages and that’s something that could lead to a manual penalty.

This is what Google’s official documentation of doorway pages warns:

“Doorways are sites or pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination.

They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.”

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Mueller cautioned against unintentionally creating doorway pages:

“The one extreme case here that can pop up if you’re like really intensely copying your own content is that you end up creating doorway pages.

And that is essentially taking one piece of content and creating lots and lots of variations just with different words in it and that’s something that would be against our webmaster guidelines.

So that’s something I would watch out for and also that’s something where you’re creating a ton of lower quality …I would almost say junk pages for your website which is essentially just like fluff that doesn’t provide any unique value overall.

And instead of kind of diluting the content of your website like that I would recommend focusing on making the primary content of your website a lot stronger instead.

So that’s kind of my recommendation there.

So if you’re asking, is Google okay with it, well it’s like you can do whatever you want on your website but that doesn’t mean that Google is going to value it.”

Focus on Content Not Shortcuts

The big takeaway here is that content is the most important asset of a website. The content can contribute to whether a venture is successful or not.

Seeing how important content is then it makes sense that content is the one thing not to skimp on or take shortcuts with.

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Citation

Watch John Mueller answer the question in the 7:34 minute mark:

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SEO

10 Reasons You Need A Long-Term Content Strategy

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10 Reasons You Need A Long-Term Content Strategy

It’s no secret that content is time-consuming.

However, some marketers are so focused on whittling down that time, on cutting corners just to “get something out,” that they ultimately end up losing out.

What do they lose?

The power inherent in high-quality content helps you:

Rushing content, meanwhile, gets you the opposite.

Marketers who view content marketing as a sprint rather than a marathon think they can write 20 short, low-quality blog posts, slap them online, and call it done.

Unfortunately, this is a recipe for major content failure.

For content to succeed – truly succeed, with the rankings, engaged readers, and conversions to prove it – you need to play the long game with your content marketing.

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You need to come to terms with the realization that it may take anywhere from six months to a year (or even longer, according to one study) to get your content ranking well.

You need to understand that your target audience is comprised of humans who need to be nurtured and respected continually over time if you want their trust and, ultimately, their buy-in.

You need to fully own that good content cannot be created in a rush. Great content takes even longer, but great content gets results.

Let’s get deeper into why you should be playing the long game with content.

Why Focusing On A Content Marathon, Not A Sprint, Is A Good Thing For Your Marketing

Think about a footrace for a moment: It’s pretty brutal, right?

To win a footrace, you don’t necessarily need technique or style; you just need speed (at least until you become a professional track athlete, at which point style and form are critically important).

Because of this, the winner of a footrace isn’t necessarily the best runner in the group. Put that same winner into a 10 km and he’d likely burn out at the beginning, right? I bet you see where I’m going with this.

The same thing applies to content.

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While anyone can sprint in a general direction towards the finish line with crappy content and poorly thought-out content strategies, not every marketer can devise an effective, long-term strategy for actually consistently ranking well with content.

This is the main reason that the long-term content strategy is so much better than a short-term content strategy.

In addition to being more sustainable, the long-term approach is also wiser and more fully thought out.

In the words of Tim Ferriss, “There will always be a need for high-quality, and there will always be a need for long-form.”

While short-term content strategies seek to produce instant and short-lived results, long-term content strategies allow marketers to bond with their audiences, build their voice, provide real value, and rank in an authentic and sustainable way.

Because of this, marketers who create long-term content strategies often publish more effective content, build bigger audiences, and garner more shares across the board.

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10 Reasons Long-Term Content Strategy Is Better

1. It’s A Better Use Of Your Money And Resources

Imagine going on a diet to lose weight. For two weeks, you eat only whole, clean foods and you exercise for two hours a day.

You feel great and – hey! — you lose weight. At the end of that two weeks, however, you stop exercising and go right back to your old diet habits.

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What happens?

Of course, you gain all of the weight back, and your guise of physical fitness takes a nosedive.

Not surprisingly, the same thing happens with content. Regardless of what you’re doing, content marketing takes money and resources.

If you’re paying someone to flood your accounts with content for two weeks and then laying off your strategy entirely, you can bet not only will your strategy be ineffective, but it will also be a waste of your money and resources.

Instead, you’re much better off allocating your resources to a long-term content strategy that will build readers over time and help you maintain steady levels of traffic and clicks over months or years.

Instead of wasting your resources, this funnels them right back into your company and ensures that you’re building value while also establishing a solid foundation of lasting, relevant content.

2. Long-Term Content Engages Readers

To keep readers interested and engaged for an extended period, you need to offer them comprehensive, in-depth content that helps them address their concerns and solve problems.

And that means long content, in terms of word count per article.

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Don’t think just because we live in an age where attention spans are short that long-form content won’t do well. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. 

An Orbit Media survey found that bloggers who write longer posts (anything over 1,500 words) get better results.

Why does long-form content perform so well as part of a long-term content strategy?

In addition to providing outstanding value for readers, long-form content also allows your company to build authority and establish dominance by showcasing your knowledge on relevant topics in your industry.

3. Content Changes All The Time

As search engines and readers progress, the demand for quality, informed, relevant content increases all the time. Because of this, a long-term content strategy is the best possible weapon.

Designed to insulate marketers against change and help them maintain their traffic and readership despite changing SEO, content, and marketing requirements, long-term content marketing allows space for the strategy to absorb and adapt to changing trends. This ensures more effective content and a more adaptive strategy that doesn’t have to scramble to keep up.

4. Long-Term Content Is Synonymous With Cornerstone Content

Every good house needs a solid foundation, and every good marketing strategy needs cornerstone content to provide long-lasting value and relevance to readers.

Cornerstone content is long-term content that might not draw a huge number of clicks right off the bat but remains valuable for months or years after the publishing date.

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Think of it as a down payment toward your own business.

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In fact, if you look at the aforementioned Tim Ferriss’s blog, you’ll notice most of his most popular blog posts were written up to two years ago. How’s that for an effective long-term strategy?

In contrast, short-term content strategies are largely aimed at ranking well for a specific keyword or phrase, so they all but neglect cornerstone content entirely.

Unfortunately, this leads to a less valuable and less relevant website for users of all types.

For attracting long-term clicks and ensuring that a website’s readers are engaged, entertained, and consuming value at all times, cornerstone content becomes more of an essential than a luxury.

5. Long-Term Content Doesn’t Turn Off With A Hard Sell

In today’s marketing environment, there is virtually nothing customers hate more than being hard-sold.

Nobody wants to know why they can’t live without your product or why it’s critical for them to “buy now!”

More often than not, these approaches simply alienate customers and make it harder for your company to sell products naturally.

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Unfortunately, the hard-sell is often a tone taken by short-term content.

Because short-term content is insistent by nature, it’s tough to engineer it so it doesn’t push on your customers.

As a result, short-term content strategies run a high risk of alienating customers and making it more difficult to sell your products.

Long-term content strategies, on the other hand, do no such thing. Because they’re not designed to elicit an immediate response from readers, they seek to provide value and relevance rather than insistence and immediacy.

In other words, they succeed in explaining a problem, helping the audience handle the problem, and then inviting them to engage in a discussion about the problem.

This, in turn, is a fantastic way to nurture long-term customer relationships and ensure that your company continues to meet the needs of your clients.

6. Long-Term Content Strategy Is An Effective Way To Approach Current Events

Do you think writing about trending news and industry events makes you a short-term content strategist? Think again.

Trending content-focused blogs are extremely important, and it’s a mistake to think of this as only a short-term strategy.

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In fact, trending news can be critical to your long-term strategy, and can help you establish your website as the source for up-to-date and relevant industry news.

When you focus on using trending, to-the-minute news pieces as a way to enhance and strengthen your long-term content strategy, it’s easy to see how you can improve your brand presence and boost your business overall.

7. Long-Term Content Promotes Itself

Failing to promote your content is one of the most dangerous mistakes in the entire content marketing industry and, unfortunately, it’s one many marketers make.

While short-term content needs aggressive promotion to succeed, long-term content essentially promotes itself.

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When you create high-quality, in-depth, well-researched, long-term content and push it out to your followers, it’s easy to rank well for your chosen keyword.

Because long-term content is meant to garner clicks and shares over time, it’s a great way to build steady, long-term rankings that can boost your SERP placement and improve your standing over time.

8. Long-Term Content Is Good Content

One of the differences between long-term content and short-term content comes down to priority and intention.

As a general rule, people who commit to the pursuit and development of content for the long term are much more in love with content.

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While all types of content are important, creating good long-term content requires a different mindset and series of priorities than creating short-term content.

Because of this, long-term content strategies often boast better content that caters more effectively to readers.

9. Long-Term Content Effectively Builds An Audience

When it comes to building an audience, you don’t want to aim for the largest audience possible. This will result in a massive but unengaged group of followers.

Instead, you want to build an audience of people who are genuinely interested in your concept and your content and will engage with it actively when it comes out.

This is one of the areas in which long-term content strategy is so powerful.

Fewer people have the attention span for long-term (or long-form) content today, and by making it a large part of your content strategy, you can build a better audience and earn more qualified leads.

10. Long-Term Content Is Best For SEO

SEO is a complex mix of strategies that companies need to succeed online.

In addition to optimizing content correctly, companies that want to use good SEO also need to ensure their content is high-quality, relevant, and useful to their readers.

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While this can be difficult with a short-term content strategy, a long-term content strategy suits the goal quite nicely.

In addition to the fact that long-term content is written with the reader in mind, it’s easier to target a group of keywords with a long-term content strategy than it is a short-term content strategy.

Finally, every piece of content written in a long-term content strategy goes to boost and improve SEO, contributing to more online visibility and more clicks to your website.

The Case For Long-Form Content Strategy

Treating content as a sprint rather than a marathon may seem easier at the outset, but it’s really just a quick way to stall out with content that doesn’t move the needle.

Good, results-driving content takes thought, time, and effort. It takes commitment to a long-term strategy because, by nature, content doesn’t work in the short term.

Ultimately, the time and commitment you invest in your long-term goals and strategy will pay off with higher dividends and a higher ROI. And that adds up to time well spent.

More Resources:


Featured Image: alphaspirit.it/Shutterstock

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