Can I Move Content From An Old Site Without Being Penalized?

Can I Move Content From An Old Site Without Being Penalized?

If you've owned some different businesses over the years or built different blogs, you may have run into the issue where you're shutting an old site down but want to reuse some of its content. After all, you put a lot of work into building that out and it'd be a shame to just delete it all. But with Google's penalties on duplicate content, a common question that arises is whether you can import some of this content into your new site and reuse it without being penalized.

In a recent Google Hangouts webinar, John Mueller of Google Switzerland was asked this very question.

Mueller confirmed that essentially copy/pasting the full content of a site is a bad idea. However, theoretically if you're building a new site the intention is not to replicate the old one. Taking snippets of content or some posts/pages is usually ok though, he says. If you have a couple articles you're really proud of and would hate to have to rewrite, moving them to the new site shouldn't pose an issue as long as your old site is taken down.

When Google crawls the old domain next it will notice that the site has been taken down and make note of that. When it then crawls your new site, that content will not be seen as duplicate content and will be indexed on its own merit.

Publish content to a new siteNote that this should be done sparingly with your best content. Since you don't know how quickly Google will notice the old site is down or how quickly all that old content will de-index, copying too much of it may still cause some issues while launching the new site. Also, if there have been changes to your brand or the site's focus in the transition you'll probably want to create new content anyway to better suit that site. If too much is reused from before you're doing a messaging disservice to yourself; better to reuse the concepts from before and adapt them to the new site's aims.

So if you're building a new site and feel that a few pieces of your old material would really suit the new site well, go ahead and move it over. You can also use redirects to send traffic from the previous URL of that piece to where it resides on the new site. This works well because any SEO juice you've accrued will funnel traffic to your new site, giving it a boost, but it may also be a further cue to Google that the content is legitimately being moved and not "borrowed".

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Brian Watkins

Brian Watkins

Web strategist, tech geek, and music lover. I've been in the marketing and web development industry for since 2007, combining technical and coding skills with creative writing to improve businesses' websites and better communicate their brands to their target customers. Having worked at both ends of this spectrum — the back end coding and the front end presentation, as well as business operations and strategizing with sales teams — I've gained some valuable insights in making all these pieces mesh.

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