Last week I posted some tips for optimizing your content for SEO. This week, however, I’ll address something much more serious that you need to watch out for in the “post-Panda” world: ensuring that Google understands you are the original author of that content.
While Google has put much emphasis on content recently, its focus is also on unique content. The Panda algorithm update (which continues in phases) has hurt many content-based sites. One reason these content-based sites were hit so hard was that Google was trying to reduce duplicate content algorithmically – trying to reduce the times the same content appears in multiple places. But this makes it tough for content originators, as others may steal content and then outrank the content originator!
For content creators, protecting copyrighted content online isn’t easy. For instance, one of my clients is a health association. Members readily copy content from its site verbatim, and place it on their own practice websites. I expect they have the best intentions at heart: to share important health information with their patients. But in reality, they also may cause major issues for the association if Google doesn’t understand that the association is the creator and actual owner of this content.
Here are some ways content creators/owners can avoid Panda issues:
1. Date your content. Google appreciates recent content and rewards it. Adding a date to your content can be an indicator for Google.
2. Update the content regularly. Don’t just write an article and let it sit for three years. Update it with new facts, comments, etc.
3. Add and update your XML Sitemap. When you update content and the Sitemap, it signals Google that your content is being updated, which Google seems to reward.
4. Consider adding an author and using rel=author on your content. This may help Google understand who the ORIGINAL author is.
And make sure, above all, that ALL of your content clearly shows a copyright for ownership. Check Google regularly to see if your content has been reproduced by:
1. Copying the first paragraph or so of content.
2. Pasting it in the Google search box with quotes around it to make it an exact match search.
You’ll be surprised at how many sites you find that may be copying your content verbatim. There are various free tools online to check for duplicate content, including CopyScape. Contact those using your content. They can either a) take the content down or b) provide a canonical tag pointing back to your original content to tell the search engines to make your version the original one.