Written by María Navarro
Table of contents
- 1 Why Google doesn’t want duplicate content?
- 2 What happens if Google identifies a piece of content as duplicate?
- 3 Plagiarised duplicate content: what can we do?
- 4 How to inform Google about duplicate content?
- 5 Content removal form on the grounds of intellectual property infringement
- 6 Conclusion
Duplicate content is an issue affecting millions of websites, both intentionally and unintentionally. It can happen for a variety of reasons, among which we find bad technical implementation or content plagiarism. It is not recommended that Google finds two URLs with identical or similar content.
We can classify duplicate content into two types: one, which happens within the same website (internal duplicate content) and the other one which appears on external websites (external duplicate content).
In this post we are going to focus on how to report duplicate content on plagiarism grounds between two external domains. If what you are looking for is how to deal with internal duplicate content, you can check out this post: What is duplicate content and how to deal with it on your site.
Why Google doesn’t want duplicate content?
Google’s primary goal is to provide users with quality search results, corresponding to the query made by the user. In short, it aims to display the best content. I don’t think any of us wants to run into the same content over and over again. For that reason, Google tries to identify the original, quality source, while omitting the rest.
What happens if Google identifies a piece of content as duplicate?
There are two possible scenarios:
It is displayed in the results: Google can show duplicate content in its search results if it considers that, despite being duplicate, it’s still relevant for its users. An example of this can be a press release published in various media outlets.
It’s not displayed in the results: when we search for something, Google chooses to only display the most relevant content, and omit some similar entries, which can be further inspected in its “omitted results”.
“In cases where Google perceives the possibility that someone is attempting to show duplicate content with the intention of manipulating their rankings and cheating users, the website’s positions can be affected negatively, or the website could be removed entirely from Google’s index, in which case it will no longer appear in the search results whatsoever.” -– Google
Plagiarised duplicate content: what can we do?
Google neither indexes nor displays in its results the same content repeatedly, so usually it will only appear once. As a general rule, it will show the original content, but there are times where the algorithm could wrongly select the URL of the website plagiarising a piece of content, gravely damaging the original source, as it doesn’t get to appear in the results.
Important: if Google, for whatever reason, hasn’t indexed the original version from which the content was copied, but has indexed the one plagiarising it, it won’t identify the content as duplicate even though it is, because it considers the indexed content as the original source.
For that reason, if another website has copied your content and is violating the copyright law, we recommend you to proceed as follows:
- Contact the host to request content removal, or approach amicably the person who copied it, and ask them to remove it.
- Present an enquiry based on the United States copyright law (DMCA), and request that Google evaluates and removes the page from its search results.
What is DMCA?
DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is the US copyright protection law, to which Google responds when it’s presented a notification of possible infractions of this type. It must evaluate the report and take the appropriate measures, for instance, by blocking, removing or restricting access to the plagiarised content.
How to inform Google about duplicate content?
Follow this step-by-step guide to initiate the process of informing Google about plagiarised content, using its tool for submitting a legal request.
You need to specify the Google product regarding which you want to submit a report. In this case, we must choose “Web Search“.
Important note: if the legal request affects various Google products, you’ll have to send an individual notification for each of them.
We need to choose a more detailed description regarding the type of request we want to send. In this case, we should select: “I have a legal issue that is not mentioned above“.
At this point, we are presented with several different options to report copyright infringements. We should choose “I have found content that may violate my copyright“.
We must indicate that we are the copyright owners or that we are authorised to act on behalf of the owner.
Once you’ve chosen this option, you have to specify the type of work you want to submit the report on (images or other). In our case, we’re going with “Other“, but in either case we will end up on the same infringement form.
Content removal form on the grounds of intellectual property infringement
We’ll be asked to fill in various fields:
- Contact information of the person reporting the issue.
- Content protected by copyright we want to report.
- Sworn statement.
A few things to keep in mind:
- You must log in with a Google account to submit the notification.
- The more detailed your report is, the faster is the response.
- Very important: before filling in the request, you must be absolutely sure that the content to be reported really violates your copyright. If you submit a false infringement notification, you could be demanded legal liability for damages. In that very notification, they tell us about a real-life case in which a company had to pay over $100,000 in costs and legal fees for wrongfully reporting content.
Contact information of the complainant
We must provide name, surname, company name, email address and country.
Copyrighted work we want to report
- In the “Identify and describe the copyrighted work” field you must include a very thorough description, and if possible, with examples of the copied content.
- As the location of an authorised example of the work you must enter the URL with the original content.
- As the location of the infringing material, you must enter the URL of the content you want removed.
- You can include up to 10 different groups of instances of plagiarised content, provided they belong to the same category (Web Search).
Finally, you have to fill in a sworn statement, indicating that the use of works included in the form is allegedly infringing and that it violates copyright. You’ll have to tick all the boxes, include the date and full name of the person reporting the issue. After that, you’ll have to prove that you’re not a robot, and submit the request.
Once submitted, it’s possible that a notification will be sent to the allegedly infringing party, the affected party, and in almost all cases, the content of the notification will be also sent to the non-profit organisation Lumen. Once the complaint has been evaluated (it can be hours or 2 to 3 weeks), if the report is valid, Google will remove the reported result(s) and show the following message:
At Human Level, we think that usually the disadvantaged party is really the one who copies content belonging to other authors. Nevertheless, to anyone who has ever suffered content plagiarism, we encourage them to fill in and submit the copyright infringement form.