It may be tempting to copy your own content and republish it with slight tweaks to push out more content for less work. However, there’s a reason it is not best practice.
On May 6th, Google released an episode of Google Seach Central SEO Office Hours Hangout with John Mueller. Here, he answered questions for viewers to learn more about Google’s policy. One of the questions was, “Can bloggers plagiarize their own content?”
To clarify, the asker was wondering if they could write a blog about, say, “gifts to get your mother,” and then repost the same content to instead be targeted towards aunts, sisters, or grandmothers. In this case, the content would be nearly identical to the original, with only a few words changed to other similar words.
The short answer to this question, Muller says, is no. But, there is a catch. Muller clarifies in the video that with only a few copies, it’s fine in the eyes of Google: “It seems like if you’re re-using your own content that’s not really plagiarizing… purely from a policy point of view, I don’t think there is anything specifically [wrong] in taking individual articles, and then making, I don’t know, a handful of copies of that.”
So, Mueller says that Google does not care if you plagiarize your own content, then why are more people not doing it? The catch is that, in reality, these copies of the original will only lead to low-quality fluff that is not providing value for your blog.
Mueller says in the Hangout, “From a strategic point of view, you probably would be better suited writing something unique and compelling for those topics, or to create one article that covers these different variations.”
He goes on to explain that while Google may not necessarily have a problem with the posts, your blog or preferred outlet is better off making fewer, unique blogs to put on your website rather than increasing frequency but sacrificing value.
From a practical point of view, it is up to the individual to make these kinds of choices for their own page. However, the fact is that these copies are not going to bring a lot of value to the brand or website you are trying to create. Having unique copy to put up should be a priority over this “shortcut,” even if it is allowed by Google.
One thing that Mueller did advise was against Google’s policy was doorway pages. According to Google Search Central, doorway pages 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.”
Essentially, if you are creating too much of the same content, that will be flagged by Google because that is against their Webmaster Guidelines. If there are multiple pages that will all take you back to the same page, it will end up dominating the search results. Since this will be a deficit to searchers, Google will remove your pages. Think of it as removing spam.
Mueller then reiterates his earlier point. If you are not trying to create doorway pages, it’s best to just stick to one unique blog post: “You’re creating a ton of lower quality, I would almost say ‘junk’ pages for your websites, which essentially just fluff. Instead 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.”
While it is totally alright with Google for you to do this kind of practice, it is not recommended. Not only does fluff decrease the value of your website, but there is also a chance of creating doorway pages if you are not careful.
In the conclusion of this question on Hangouts, Mueller gives his opinion to the audience straight: “So, if you’re asking is Google OK with it? Well, you can do whatever you want on your website, but that doesn’t mean that Google is going to value it.”