content recycling steven j davies

Content Recycling Vs Google

A common request for many content writers, myself included, is to help with content recycling. This practice can be very useful, if you have taken the time to write a great post, and it makes a certain amount of sense; why throw something away if it can be dusted off and used again or turned into something else?

One of the more common reasons for recycling content, is if a website is being retired in favour of a new one and the owner wants to transfer some of the content over. Of course, one option is to just copy the page word for word, another is to use a URL redirect.

Sometimes rewriting content makes more sense – if the owner wants a fresh spin on the text, for example.

In these cases, content recycling is fine but the new page may not appear in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) because there is every chance that your favourite search engine favours the original (Matt Cutts, the Google spam guy, says himself that duplicate content itself is not an issue – but only one instance of it will appear).



So, maybe recycling is not such a hot idea if you want the new page to be indexed and ‘ranked’?

Then there is the ‘other’ use for content recycling – taking the work of competitor and rewriting it in your own words. This practice brings problems all of its own.


Plagiarism in the name of recycling


Just because something passes a plagiarism test, such as Copyscape, doesn’t mean that it’s ‘clean’. Google is a hell of a lot more sophisticated than an online tool such as this, and it won’t be fooled into believing that your version is unique.

One of the things that makes Google so good at its job, is the way that the web itself is constructed and how Google now navigates its pages. You may have heard of the semantic Web, and possibly even semantic search. Semantic search is Google’s trump card in the search wars, and it basically means that the search engine can, to a very high degree of accuracy, determine search intent.


content recycling is not sounding like a good idea, at all!


It does this, partly, by the use of synonyms. The vast majority of people that recycle content do the exact same thing, swapping out one word for another that means the same thing.

Ever heard of content spinning software? Same deal. Search algorithms are  able, in a manner of speaking, to ‘unravel’ this spun content and determine the point of origin. It doesn’t know it’s doing this, of course, as it wasn’t designed for that, but the end result is the same.

your spun, or recycled if you prefer, content isn’t worth nearly as much as the original and we have already determined that Google will only display one instance of a piece of copy… Add to that the fact that if this is something you are doing on a regular basis then your entire site is at risk of being penalised, and content recycling is not sounding like a good idea, at all!


So, stay away from content recycling then?


At the top of this piece, I stated that I am asked quite frequently to recycle content – so, do I do it? Yes. Now, before you call me a hypocrite, let me explain.

Content recycling, done properly, is very useful and sometimes makes a lot of sense for a lot of people. There are however certain things that should be kept in mind before embarking on something like this.


  • Make sure the request is legit, and the original content is owned by the person making the request.
  • Don’t simply use the old synonym swap, or anything else even remotely similar to that.
  • Take the original, read it then read it some more. Do your due diligence and research the topic yourself, this way you get a fresh perspective.


Once you have taken care of the above, put the original away from your eye-line and write a fresh article. Make sure the point, the conclusion and the ‘voice’ are the same (otherwise you aren’t really recycling, are you?) as the original and be proud that you’ve done a proper job of it.

Content recycling is nothing to shy away from, not if you take it seriously and do it properly. What about you, do you recycle?

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