True or false? 6 content duplication myths debunked, from scraping to syndication

duplicate content

Content duplication can be technical, such as when you have duplicate product categories in place – but it can also be content-focused.  

Many of us have been concerned about whether site scrapers, content syndication and having copy-paste versions of a Privacy Policy live on our site will count against us. 

Here, we provide the definitive answers to six of our most commonly asked questions about content duplication.  

There are many myths out there – so it’s time to debunk them…

Myth One: If your site content is scraped by other sites, this will negatively impact your performance.  


Many of us have encountered this issue – we produce content, then take a look at its performance, only to discover that it has been replicated on a site you’ve never heard of before.

For the most part, there is no need to worry. This practice happens often in the industry, and it’s the result of black hat SEO tactics where site administrators pull content from multiple sources to cheat their way to a large corpus of content. 

Search engines will consider a number of factors when they decide which content source is the original. Most significantly, you will have published your content first. However, search engines will also recognise that scraper sites are reproducing content which already exists elsewhere.

More importantly, your site will be of a higher quality than scraper sites, so there is no need to worry. The only circumstance where you might need to take action is if a scraper site is outranking you for your own content.

If this does happen, contact the scraper site administrator and request that the content is removed. Alternatively, you can fit out Google’s Legal Troubleshooter and request that the search engine removes the page under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 

Myth Two: If your press release is syndicated word-for-word across multiple sites, search engines could penalise your site for duplicate content. 


When you are working on a digital PR campaign, you may find that a journalist has republished your content, word for word, on their own domain – backlink included. 

Such a situation can result in mixed emotions – you’re excited to receive a backlink from a high-authority domain, but you’re anxious that the fact it’s been republished word for word could result in search engines registering duplicate content and penalising your site. 

The question here is – do search engines register syndicated content as duplicate content? The short answer is ‘yes’, but the proper answer is more complex and should provide some peace of mind. 

Ultimately, when you are building a backlink profile by producing shareable content, you will encounter content syndication. As long as you syndicate responsibly, you will not encounter issues.  

This is what Google says about duplicate content in such situations:  

If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer.  

However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article.  

You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content. 

Myth Three: Copy-pasting product descriptions from other sites can register as duplicate content.


If you are reselling products on an e-commerce site, posting the original product description may be a convenient solution for uploading products at scale. 

However, other sites may well be doing the same, and if there are multiple pages across a number of e-commerce sites that are basically identical bar their design, you won’t be doing your own SEO any favours. 

It’s unlikely you will actively be penalised with a dip in rankings, because it will typically be clear where the original product listing came from. However, you won’t be helping yourself to get good organic visibility for your product. 

If you want your product page to rank well in the SERP, minimise the reproduction of both the description and the images. Write your own and upload unique imagery. This may take time, but it will be a good investment for your organic strategy.

Myth Four: Reposting guest posts on your own site will hurt your SEO efforts. 


As part of your link building efforts, you may have written a guest post for another site – and you may want to ensure your audience sees that content. 

In many situations, site administrators will permit you to republish guest post content on your own site, usually after a short timeframe has elapsed.  

However, you may be concerned that in doing so, you are uploading copy that search engines will register as duplicate content. 

You can avoid this scenario if you ensure that you add the rel=“canonical” tag to your HTML. We discuss this more when we talk about technical content duplication, but in a nutshell, by including the link to the original URL and telling search engines that is the original, you will avoid any duplicate content issues. 

Myth Five: Search engines don’t always know where content originated from. 


Ultimately, search engines will not always know where content originated. There are signals it can use, such as the publication date, but it will essentially guess – and sometimes it will guess incorrectly. 

If someone steals your content and assigns themselves as the author, this is essentially plagiarism, and you can use Google’s Legal Troubleshooter to tackle it. 

Myth Six: Boilerplate repetition should be minimised. 


It can be tempting to copy and paste copyright notices, legal disclaimers – or entire pages, such as Terms and Conditions or a Privacy Policy – onto your own site to save time.

This has been done countless times across the web. In other words, a portion of the web’s content is duplicate, and numerous identical privacy policies and terms and conditions pages comprise a portion of this figure. 

You will not be actively penalised for publishing such content on your own site. However, don’t expect it to rank highly in search results. In essence, though, you are not publishing such content for search purposes, but to comply with various legal guidelines.

Having such pages on your site is essentially duplication without malicious intent. If you want to ensure your site is 100% original, you can rewrite all of this content and increase the chances of these pages appearing in the SERP, improving your brand visibility. The choice is ultimately yours. 

Still concerned about content duplication? 

If you’re unsure about your content syndication strategy, need some help with creating original content which will adhere to E-E-A-T guidelines or have another question entirely, we’re here to help. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to have a chat. 

Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about your sites’ potential in the search landscape, book a Free Acquisitions Workshop today? We’ll give you original insights and actionable advice you can get to work on right away. 


Imogen Groome

Content Lead

Imogen is the SEO Content Lead at Skittle Digital. Imogen has worked in SEO since 2016. She helped to define SEO strategy at Metro.co.uk before guiding the newsroom at The Sun Online as SEO Editor. She has more than 5 years’ experience in scaling content strategies that drive revenue for brands through organic search channels. In her spare time, Imogen writes books, watches poor-quality reality TV and hangs out with her cats.

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