I'm a big advocate of repurposing content for different channels. Recently, my perspective of what I consider to be "best practice" got challenged by Neil Patel in an article where he shared observations that a page or article could be de-valued by Google for as little as one paragraph of duplicate content.
For those of us who regularly repackage content and ideas for legitimate purposes, this could be a huge problem. After all, including a quote, teaser, or intro paragraph - even if it's just being used as a reference or to give credit to the original source for an idea - according to Neil - could trigger a duplicate content penalty with such a low threshold. And if the threshold keeps lowering, as Neil suggests, then the need for completely fresh and unique pages will become even more critical.
That would mean, amongst other things, that you'd need to write a piece of content in distinctly separate ways to share a big idea over each content channel (like your blog, LinkedIn Pulse, GooglePlus, etc.). That wouldn't just take a lot of time; it might also force you to water down an otherwise great piece of content as you break it into separate pieces.
Even though this is an idea with potentially far-reaching implications, I don't think it's as depressing as some are making it out to be. Here are two of the reasons I think all the talk about duplicate content is a bit redundant:
First, Google Is Aware of "Both" Duplicate Content Problems
Duplicate content isn't just a problem for search engines; it's actually a pair of problems.
The first is obvious: Search results can't be flooded with different pages of the same content over and over, because that's bad for usability. So, aside from finding cases where content has been copied or scraped, Google and the other search engines have to try to determine where content is actually coming from. Many instances of the same thing make that distinction more challenging.
And, trying to stamp out inappropriate forms of duplicate content leads to a second problem. Why? Well, to paraphrase Matt Cutts, Google's most popular spokesperson for these types of issues, "duplicate content happens." There are lots of reasons you might want to use the same content on pages within your own site, or from someone else's website.
Every thought can't be an original one, and ethical marketers and researchers often like to quote and reference one another, even when they're creating new and original content (which is encouraged and sometimes mandated). Google is worried about plagiarism, not the strict repetition of strings of text, and is getting better at separating one from the other.
And Second, Repurposing Content Isn't Really About SEO
When we repurpose content at Kayak, it's not because we're trying to increase our search engine visibility, but because we want to reach new readers, share and engage on our biggest ideas.
Some people are likely to find content on our blog first, but others are going to see it - and prefer to see it - on LinkedIn, through Social Media Today, or somewhere else. In a perfect world, maybe we'd be able to publish to one format and forget about it, but that's not the way things in the real world work. Publishing to different platforms makes sense as a business because we need to reach different people in different ways on their terms as much as ours.
When you think about it from that perspective, the duplicate content penalty seems a lot less worrisome. We aren't betting the bank on the SEO anyway, so we don't really care about that side of things. We certainly practice good search engine optimization, but repackaging content isn't done for SEO or against readers.
There may be an exception to that rule, if it does in fact turn out that Google is actually penalizing, rather than ignoring, pages with bits of duplicate content. We don't consider that a critical issue at this time, but it is something we'll keep our eyes on just in case Neil has caught onto something big.
For now, the worry about duplicate content seems to be a bit of a scare tactic. We think it still makes plenty of sense to publish to multiple platforms, if that's where your readers and prospects are.
As with all things, though, that might change in the future. But when it does, you'll probably find a few thoughts and warnings from us: in lots of different places.