The ABC’s of Duplicate Content and Press Releases

To anyone that’s been writing on the Internet for any length of time, it’s no surprise that Matt Cutts needs to be constantly supplying information about what is and isn’t considered duplicate content. Of course, if you copy and paste whole sections from other websites, you’re lighting a fuse. However, there are some other less incendiary areas that legitimate online marketers and bloggers run into that need some kind of clarification and using press releases is one of them.

Here’s a clarification to muddy the waters right off. What this post is dealing with is press releases that are used on websites to keep readers current with newsworthy events in their particular market. Here’s a link to one of my more recent efforts for where I am the content manager. Cutts recently posted a video on the subject of websites that search out relevant press releases like the ones on and warned against searching out keywords and then auto generating the text. By auto generating, I think he meant copying and pasting.

Duplicate content and Intent

One of the points of interest in his post dealt with intent. Unless I’m reading him wrong, Cutts seems to be saying that it’s evident to Google when a content manager or writer is trying to scam the system. How? Simply a large amount of content that rings the bells on Copyscape. Still, therein lies the problem for websites that use press release material in a relevant way., for instance, is a site that deals with the Alumni of the Big Four firms like Accenture, PwC, Deloitte and Ernst &Young, and as such a constant flow of press release information is necessary to build followers whether keywords and SEO are used or not.

With the large volume that passes through, it’s inevitable that there’s going to be some duplicate content when you consider these press releases are put out for the consumption of the media both print and online. From a journalism standpoint, for example, quotes can’t be altered but good ones on hot topics in the financial arena will get used by hordes of online and other publications.

Google updates and duplicate content

That’s why I think it all comes back to the original intent of the Google updates in that they wanted to cut down on the rampant Black Hat seo that was turning the web into a wasteland of half intelligible babble. In other words, getting penalized for duplicate content doesn’t seem as ominous as it once did. In fact, it looks like as they sort out the boundaries, it will be more clear who has the Black hats on and who is wearing the White ones.

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tally - January 27, 2013

Helpful post. Its tough trying to keep up with all the ins and outs of google

Sean Nicholson - January 27, 2013

Interesting post. In my experiences, most press releases are really intended to have a short life span, letting people know when timely events happen at a company. With that in mind, does it really matter if Google penalizes their long-tail SEO value? I think the PR folks don’t really care about the search value of a press release in 2 years, where I think heavily how important my blog post will be and how searchable it will be.

Thoughts? Am I off base?


Academic Writer - January 28, 2013

This is a very relevant post as Google recently launched massive updates which has reduced rankings of several sites using Black-Hat techniques. Hopefully people will now start using legitimate SEO techniques.

Hadley - January 28, 2013

Black hat practices get you nowhere in the long run. Google are becoming too sophisticated. Even if you get short term results they will only be short term.

Diane Clark - January 31, 2013

Yes, the Black Hat techniques were making Internet a wasteland. That’s why I believe that the recent updates can make the search more effective.

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