Does Google still rank duplicate content? How about the other search engines?
With all the talk of duplicate content and penalties and such and such, you’d think the search engines would have just stopped ranking it completely. But they haven’t. And all the evidence you really need that they haven’t is Google’s recent (within the past 6 months) announcement of a new recognized tag – the canonical URL tag.
The canonical tag – attribute, if you will – is a relationship attribute that you can append to your URLs so that Google knows which one you want indexed. That is, which version of duplicate content on your own site that you prefer to be found in Google’s index. If Google wasn’t still ranking duplicate content then such an URL wouldn’t be necessary.
Of course, it could be argued that the canonical URL is necessary so that Google doesn’t make the decision for you as to which duplicate content is more important, and that would be true. But I’ve actually seen cases where the same content is indexed multiple times across several websites.
The question for webmasters is this: How do you position your content so that it is ranked higher than any duplicate content that might appear elsewhere on the Web?
First, I’d suggest that you publish your content on your own website before you publish it anywhere else, or allow someone else to publish it elsewhere. The search engines do try to find the first instance of publication and index that before indexing the duplicate content. So if you publish your articles on your own website before you publish them in other places then you stand a better chance of those articles being indexed on your own site first.
An alternative to publishing on your own site first is to only distribute unique content when producing off site content. Instead of submitting one article to 100 article directories, just submit it to one directory and write another article to submit to another directory. That will cut down on chances of your content being duplicated.