If you’re a new entrepreneur and you’re bootstrapping your business, you’re probably doing a lot of content marketing. Blogging, guest posts, podcasts, radio shows – you name it, if it’s “free” marketing (as in, it takes time, not money) you’re probably doing it. For many of us with low-budget businesses, content marketing is the #1 way we find new clients. It’s a key part of my business plan. It’s probably a key part of yours.
I don’t usually write about content marketing anymore, but a discussion came up in Nathalie Lussier’s 30 Day Listbuilding group where we were discussing author bylines in guest posts – specifically, whether Google would penalize a site for duplicate content if the author used the same byline on multiple posts for different blogs.
As someone who writes a lot of guest posts, I’d never considered that this could be a problem. Would Google actually kill search rankings if a guest author used the same bio on many different sites? It didn’t seem right.
So I reached out to two experts – Peter Sandeen, who is a guest posting machine, not to mention a fantastic marketing expert – and Andy Crestodina (via my friend Danny Iny), a web design and content marketing expert who founded Orbit Media. I knew these guys would have the answers.
Here’s what Peter Sandeen had to say:
“I can’t believe a byline would be seen as duplicate content. Google’s too smart for that 🙂 They’d have to view sidebar content as “duplicate content” as well. So, no need to worry.”
Here’s what Andy Crestodina had to say:
“No, I don’t think this would ever happen. Author bios are the same across many posts and websites. I’ve used mine hundreds of times on dozens of sites with no problems. I can’t imagine that Google would see anything spammy about this. I wish that people weren’t so worried about “duplicate content.” I once wrote a post on KISS Metrics asking people to calm down a bit.”
And that’s good, because we have enough to worry about already, am I right? It’s hard enough to write ONE amazing author bio that sums up your expertise, experience, and awesomeness while providing a compelling benefit that drives traffic to your web site…when you only have two sentences to work with. Imagine if you had to write a different one every time!
That’s an online world I don’t want to live in. Ugh.
So, what DOES Google consider duplicate content? Well actually, their duplicate content guidelines are pretty clear. They include:
“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin. Examples of non-malicious duplicate content could include:
- Discussion forums that can generate both regular and stripped-down pages targeted at mobile devices
- Store items shown or linked via multiple distinct URLs
- Printer-only versions of web pages”
You can read the full policy here.
Google’s own Matt Cutts said in 2013 that you don’t have to worry about duplicate content unless it’s “spammy” (which we all know is subjective) or contains a lot of keyword stuffing (which you don’t do anymore…right? RIGHT?). Keep in mind though, this is the same guy who a year later claimed that guest posting was dead, which we all know it isn’t. Guest posting is still one of the most powerful tools you have to grow your list and bring traffic to your web site.
Conclusion: don’t stress about it. Write one amazing author byline and stick to it. Use a powerful call to action to get people to click over to your opt-in page. Be the kick-ass expert you are in whatever you do. And keep content marketing in your business plan…because it works.