Duplicate Content, Google Penalty and JDSupra Publication of Law Firm Blog Posts

Recently, I was asked by a large law firm client whether or not the duplication of substantive, informative blog posts on JDSupra would risk the infamous penalty by Google for having the same content on two different webpages.  They were scared. 

While the client didn't tell me this specifically, I believe that a representative of one of the national website and blog providers for law firms may have been the source of the misinformation.  They were vying for new business with the law firm, and apparently this duplicate content warning came up during some dog and pony discussions. 

Misinformation on the Google Duplicate Content Penalty Abounds

I suppose a lot is fair in the legal marketing game, and while I also know that there is a lot of information out there regarding duplicate content concerns (Google addresses this issue much more often than they'd like), I find it irritating to put a law firm into some level of stress when the information that you're providing is just plain wrong. Shame on them.

Here's the deal:  you will not be penalized for putting your blog posts onto JDSupra.  In fact, you may benefit from JDSupra's ability to expose your work in ways that your blog or web site is failing to do. 

The only detriment that you may receive is having Google choosing to rank the JDSupra version over your blog's identical post.  As long as you've got your contact information clearly provided in the JDSupra document, then you're reaching the market. 

However, your blog isn't getting all the hits it would otherwise if Google picks JDSupra over your firm blawg (and that, of course, is assuming that it's getting recognized and respected by Google in the first place).  That's the risk with duplicate blog posts on JDSupra and your own blawg, and it's got zip to do with penalizing your page rank or Google taking other action against your site based upon manipulative practices. 

The Solution? 

Make sure your JDSupra document includes a link back to your original blog post.  And, tell Google your prefered domain for the content if you wish (see Google Webmaster Tools). 

Don't trust me on this.  Go read the Google webmaster page itself, with yellow highlights provided courtesy of JDSupra. 

For more information:
How Search Engines Work -2: Indexing and Ranking (Google Caffiene, Google Page Rank)
How Search Engines Work -1: Spiders That Crawl (Yahoo! Slurp, GoogleBot, BingBot)
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