Overlapping Content

by Sam

Overlapping Content – What that is, why it is bad and how to avoid it!

Overlapping content happens when two or more article are addressing exactly the same keyword(s). Obviously that happens easily on a multi-author site like Wizzley, but it also can happen on your own site. Overlapping content is sometimes also called duplicate content, but that is not completely correct in my not so humble opinion ;-) For me duplicate content is content that is largely identical, either on the same website or across the whole internet, whilst overlapping content is content that tries to address the same keyword / topic on the same site, but with unique content. Mind you, unique as far as the words and word combinations go, the information itself will be very similar. And the worst case scenario would be obviously when duplicate and overlapping content meet in one article. That marriage would result in what is called web spam!

Overlapping Content Example

I just came across >this article< on eHow. If you look at the screenshot below, you see the problem. And yes, I had to combine two screenshots I took to fit everything together ;-) On the site itself the red marked parts are not so close to each other, but yes, they are on the same page.

For the record, I know that, copyright-wise, I am in a gray area here, as the copyright of that text and the images don't belong to me. But I claim 'fair use' for the editorial prospect of documenting a common problem amongst multi-author platforms and if they would listen to that eHow would profit from this also. So, if you hold the copyright to some of the content in the screenshot, just drop me a note in a comment and I remove it asap ;-) All this out of the way? Great, now to my main point with this article:

Overlapping Content
Overlapping Content

Why Overlapping Content is Bad

The whole point is here that it devalues the internal linking efforts. Instead of telling readers, Google, and other search engines, which article is the right one, it offers several articles that all target the same keyword and that in the end makes them compete with each other on the same site. There is no indication on the site which one is the best, most useful one of these.

 

Overlapping Content was a big part of the Panda Update!

Many of us that write now here on Wizzley, used to write on Hubpages. Now we all know what happened with Hubpages during the last Google update! There were two major reasons why Hubpages was tanked by Google: Content farming and link farming.

 

Enters, again, overlapping content, directly from the horse's own mouth

 

>The Google Webmaster Central Blog<

 

That one makes for an interesting read, note especially this quote:

 

“Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics

with slightly different keyword variations?”

 

If that happens, chances are that Google will call the site in question sooner or later out, label it as content farm and devalue it in the SERPentines. Meaning less traffic and subsequently less earnings for all involved.

 

You might also want to read this blog post by Fraser from Keyword Strategy

>Is Overlapping Content Hurting Your SEO? Get a Free Report!<

 

In case you don't know who Fraser is, he runs an astronomy web site called >Universe Today< which has a staggering >100,000 visitors per DAY and a PR7. He is also the co-founder of >Keyword Strategy<, the Keyword research and management tool that I am using for my own websites and my other online ventures like Wizzley. And yes, he is an overall nice guy from Canada that simply knows his stuff ;-) But back to the topic in question!

How to Avoid Overlapping Content

If you have an inspiration for an article, take a few seconds out of your busy online writer life and check if, gasp, this article idea has already been written about here on Wizzley. If not, great, go ahead and write an unique article about it, the best you can and include as many unique points, media etc in it.

If yes, tough love, believe it or not, there are literally millions of keywords out there worth writing about, I am sure one or two of these will tackle your fancy.

 

Seriously, I do live in Prague (Czech Republic), I have seen the 'Dancing House', I have unique photos of it but I will never write about it here on Wizzley! Why? Because there is already a great article about it by somebody else here on Wizzley!

 

Looky, look, here it is: Prague Dancing House and Celeste Restaurant!

 

Really, there is so much to write about, do yourself and Wizzley a favor and try to avoid publishing overlapping content here! The editorial team here on Wizzley can't monitor each single article in depth, so we, the authors, have to monitor ourselves. Google loves Wizzley and it is our, the authors, responsibility that it stays that way! We don't want to have another Hubpages fiasco that affects our online earnings, don't we?

Summary

To avoid publishing overlapping content on Wizzley and elsewhere follow these simple steps:
  • Check if there is already an article on Wizzley that you would have to compete with.
  • If yes, write about gluten free cup cakes instead of writing about gluten free chocolate cookies ;-)
  • Write the best possible answer to what the human being that is typing the keywords into the search engine is actually asking.
  • Make your article unique, useful for real people, don't just re-hash what you have found in the top ten results in Google for >keyword<.
  • Never link to 'bad neighborhoods' in your Wizzley articles. Never, ever!
  • And yes, help to fight spam, scam, cons and spun content by flagging them for review by the Wizzley team. That is not mean, it helps those that don't know what quality guidelines are good for to learn the ropes – hopefully!

 


Wizzley is a great site to write for, let's keep it that way and we all will profit from it for years to come. The Wizzley editorial team can't do it alone, it depends on us, the authors!




*steps down from soapbox*

My follow up article

about how to find unique topics
Finding topics nobody is already writing about, but a lot of people would love to read about, is easier as it seems, here some points to get you started.

Self-Promotional Stuff

Best Keyword research tool, that includes overlapping content detection and that I use for my own websites and content creation here on Wizzley, drumroll please .... Keyword Strategy, see discrete affiliate banner below ;-)

Extremely Discrete Affiliate Banner!

Yes, I am a real Keyword Strategy fan girl, because it makes me more money from my online writings than from my affiliate commissions ;-)

My blog about making money online the friendly way and what I have to say about article writing, start here with my blog post about >How to write a blog post, or any online article for that matter<.

Updated: 02/16/2012, Sam
 
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nicomp on 12/15/2012

You didn't answer any of my previous questions, but that's OK.

There is no way to be a bad writer that can be measured by Google. Bad writing is subjective and computers cannot measure subjectivity. Some people love Tom Clancy and some don't: is he a bad writer or a good writer? I think Harry Potter is boorish. I think The Daily Kos is insipid. Completely subjective.

Sam on 12/15/2012

There are more ways of being a 'bad writer' then just writing overlapping content, Hubpages tried to address more than one issue with the forced move to subdomains for everybody.

nicomp on 12/15/2012

How can a writer be a 'bad apple?' Google cannot measure badness or goodness.

Overlapping is not a indication of badness or goodness. The second article may be much more entertaining than the original: should the second article be deleted because it 'overlaps?'

The real issue here is how Google became the arbiter of quality writing and why we let them do ti to us.

Sam on 12/15/2012

Actually Universetoday was the reason Fraser developed the above mentioned tool to avoid this problem and he has done so pretty successfully ;-) Also with "Overlapping content is another of the Google scare tactics" I can't agree, it is not a tactic, just pure logic. If several pages / posts / articles tackle exactly the same subject / keyword they do compete with themselves. And Hubpages moved their / our content to subdomains because it makes it easier to distinguish quality writers from crap writers. They tried with this to avoid, pretty unsuccessfully, that the 'bad apples' didn't bring everybody down.

nicomp on 12/14/2012

Overlapping content is another of the Google scare tactics that they can't measure anyway. To use your example, universetoday.com is one big whack of overlapping content, yet it continues tho thrive.

BTW, Hubpages overcame some of this 'problem' by assigning each author a unique subdomain. Viola, no more overlapping content between authors as far as Google was concerned.

Tolovaj on 06/18/2012

You opened some important questions and I am not satisfied with all the answers available. O.k., we can check if somebody else have written an article on very specific keywords and let it be.

But what if you think you can do a better job? Switch the platform? I find out pretty much everything i wanted to write about on Squidoo is already taken. Most of best URL's are squatted and if the lens is by any chance up, it is spammed all over or sale sale sale all sale or I just don't like it!

And what if somebody knows something general on some general keyword, like in my case on fairy tales and just wants to explore the possibilities where this general keyword can lead him? Maybe to specific fairy tale or symbolic meanings of color red in fairy tales or psychological issues connected with absent fathers in Grimm's fairy tales...

Isn't a general article, although already written by other author (and let's face it, every author thinks of himself all the best) great start of possible series?

Don't get me wrong, it is cool to play fair, but life is not always fair and we can't expect everybody will play by the rules...

I'll check your follow up article but I will gladly read some of your thoughts on specific dilemmas I just presented. Thanks!

lobobrandon on 06/03/2012

Sam, this is really a great article, will have to keep that in mind wherever I write as for sure I've failed in that aspect in some cases :) I've just recently (a few hours back) returned to Wizzley and I'll be writing some articles here, but first I need to know the ins and outs of it. I'm from HP and many people who commented here may know me - at least I know them :)

Sam on 04/26/2012

@2uesday
Overlapping content, i.e. articles that compete with each other in the search rankings, is especially important when you build your own site, but it is also important on platforms like this that we all build together to have all of us success together.
@EverydayMiracles
That sucks if you forgive the expression! Glad to here you are doing better here income wise! One thing what I find incredibly important is 'linking together what belongs together' meaning to interlink in several ways those articles that I have published on one platform about the same topic!

2uesday on 04/26/2012

This is useful information,as I had not thought about overlapping content when starting to write about something. Things like this can get overlooked and it is good to have someone who explains it in an easy to understand way.

EverydayMiracles on 04/04/2012

On Squidoo, I was the very first person to do anything at all with The Hunger Games. I was *devastated* when several pages began to outrank me, *many* of which have inadequate content and one of which offers illegal free downloads of the novels. I very nearly gave up. I think that my lenses about The Hunger Games are pretty incredible.

The lenses are written in a series, each one of which has a unique keyword. I'm not the only person using these keywords of course, and HQ is giving more attention to the competition than to me (which I find very interesting). My articles are relatively lengthy, well-written (IMO of course) and are extremely well curated given the number of pages I have all over the Internet.

For what it's worth, *Google* favors me over the other Squidoo articles, probably due to the length of time I've been online and the depth of my linking. I'm going to work on fixing the way that I link in the future, but right now it seems that the way I'm doing things is working somewhat in my favor.

I refuse to give up just because other people joined my main niche on Squidoo. But at the same time there is an incredible value in looking for topics that haven't been covered. "Hunger Games Merchandise" brings up so many lenses that it's scary. Clearly that's not a good keyword to use. But there *are* related available keywords, and that's the angle that I think people need to take. Be the best you can be, write the best you can, and for the love of Pete, stick to topics that actually interest you instead of faking it. I've read a lot of niche Hunger Games pages by fakers who haven't read the books at all. Not one or two, but dozens like this, just trying to make money off the movie. Sorry to say it, but the ability to provide political commentary on the subject gives me a leg up in this area.

Sorry for venting. I had to. This topic frustrates me to no end.

On the UP side... I'm making more with Wizzley in my first month of writing here than I did in any single month for my entire first year at Hubpages! Wow!


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