Sunday, February 27, 2011

Google's New Duplicate Content Changes & Legal Article Marketing

There is a great deal of confusion as of late about the impacts of duplicate content on the web and how it can impact law firm search results. This has become increasingly important to understand now that Google has announced their new ranking changes as it relates to duplicate content. The rational is pretty simple here: Google wants to give credit to the originators of good content over the websites who would republish the same content on a more authoritative domain and get a higher rank / credit for it.

Naturally you don't want to create multiple websites with the same content - that was also a hard and fast rule of good lawyer SEO. But many law firms do conduct article marketing for the purposes of inbound link building and in these cases, here are a couple of key points you need to know:

- Duplicate content has to do primarily with identical content on the same domain
- If duplicate content is published on multiple domains, Google wants to give credit to the source of that content - irrespective of the authority of each domain publishing it...hence the new changes in the Google search algorithm.
- If you have distributed duplicate content for legal article marketing purposes AND the article also resides on your website AND the distributed content has links back to your website, then as a rule of thumb, you can avoid duplicate content issues if your content on your website and/or blog is at least 20% different than the content you distributed out for marketing purposes. Here are some ways you can do this:

- Change the title of the article
- Change the order of listed items
- Change the introduction
- Change the footer and about the author box
- Rewrite 1 paragraph in 5

Of course you can help avoid all of this by simply not publishing the identical content you have already distributed on your website as well...but many law firms still do.

As I have discussed in previous posts on law firm article marketing, good content distribution can be one of the most effective link building strategies you can use. With all of the recent press about Google penalizing companies for bad link building, it is increasingly important to make sure that you build links from relevant and legitimate sources.

When other law firms publish your content on their websites and blogs, they are also publishing your links back to you as well - a win-win scenario and why article marketing can be so effective. Since there is no Google duplicate content website penalty for publishing permission-based content articles in moderation, you are providing others the ability to publish "useful" information on their sites and blogs for the express purpose of providing enhanced reader value. How these duplicate articles ultimately end up ranking is immaterial since that is not their expressed purpose.

So when you conduct legal article marketing, just understand what the goal of Google's recent changes are and how they can impact the performance of your website and content. The last thing you want to do is write great content, syndicate it for distribution on other sites and then have Google discount your own website's article because the identical content also resides elsewhere.

On a final note, I recently published the top 8 legal article marketing directories which should still be used as described. Just keep in mind that it is always helpful to publish your article on the more authoritative sources FIRST and then to the remaining directories after. For example, if is going to give you the maximum exposure in comparison to the other directories, publish it there FIRST and then wait a few days to a week to distribute the same content to the other sources. That way you are sending source signals to Google from your most powerful points of distribution first.

Visit our website at to learn more about law firm search engine optimization and how to grow your law firm online.


  1. Thanks for the information; it's nice to see Google has changed what's considered duplicate content!

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