Duplicate content in the RE.NET

The demand for new and original (real estate) content is insatiable.

Duplicate content is making its way around the real estate blog world, and I am trying to determine if this is a necessarily “bad thing.” There are myriad discussions and opinions about duplicate content’s impact on search engine results. Google had a recent blog post specifically addressing duplicate content due to scrapers.

One of the key concepts of the real estate blogging space has been the original content and unique voices found at each different site; this originality seems to be waning a bit this year as the medium grows and the same content is published at different sites. It’s not spamming, but does it dilute the message and/or the content? Or does this dispersion broaden the reach? I don’t know yet.

Producing quality content consistently for different audiences is immensely challenging, but often times the same story will appeal to different audiences, and it’s important to reach those audiences. For example, and I’m not alone in my writing responsibilities, I write at a couple of places –

RealCentralVA – a blog focused on the Charlottesville/Central Virginia real estate market and trends affecting same. Readers here tend to be (thankfully) more local – local buyers, sellers, consumers, media, Realtors, etc.

Agent Genius, a national real estate magazine that discusses industry trends, news and opinion. I perceive this audience to be national real estate professionals, affiliated/related people and real estate industry voyeurs.

VARBuzz, the blog of the Virginia Association of Realtors that focuses mostly on state-level real estate issues and general trends. The audience is primarily Virginia Realtors and Virginia real estate professionals.

Why write in so many places? Simple – and for the same reason I read each site – each forum speaks to a different audience, and the overlap of readership is perhaps (unless you’re a real estate dork like me) low.

One of the leading visionaries/thinkers in this space is Pat Kitano of TransparentRE. He has discussed Content Distribution, Blogging and Journalism, real estate blogs’ inherent “niche” qualities, and The Real Online Real Estate Magazines.

Change/education happens nationally and locally, and I want to be part of it, and part of that effort is to reach the maximum targeted audience possible.

If you’re wondering why my posting is light here from time to time, you may want to check these places, and maybe even subscribe to their feeds.

One day soon we may see exclusivity demanded by readers and publishers – and we may see syndication networks. Would that be a desirable evolution? I don’t know that yet either.

Naturally, I am posting this in two of the places I write – because each reaches different audiences. Going forward, I am going to strive to publish unique content once – at one location.

The original version of this article appeared at Agent Genius.

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  1. Matthew Rathbun June 30, 2008 at 12:43

    I am torn with this. I don’t think there is a right or wrong here. I have written posts that have to do with topics that are educational or even opinion only to find sometime later that it’s related to a current issue or trend for a different group of readers. i.e. those who read our local association blog may not be reading AG or even VAR. I try to write it for one and then wait a reasonable amount of time and in three occasions have reposted the article.

    However, I think there is a bigger issue when it’s not relevant to different groups and you just go and copy it to AR, AG, VAR, personal blog etc, looking for google juice. It needs to make sense to the group.

    Like I said, it’s a hard call. I think the ones that are complaining are those who are active and see the same article pop up in their reader three times. Those are the minority…

  2. Jeremy Hart June 30, 2008 at 14:10

    Like Matt – and many others – I’m torn on this as well. And full disclosure, I’m guilty of this, even recently. My rationale has been, and continues to be, that it’s a way to reach to broadly reach many sets of eyes that might not be seeing it at one place or another.

    I don’t write on Agent Genius, or VARBuzz, for readers. I’d like to say I write for the bonus checks they send me, but I haven’t seen any of those, either. I write at both of those places because I was asked to, and to give something back to communities from which I have learned so much. I don’t expect readers to come to my blog from those two sites, so I’d argue at least from MY position that it’s not for Google Juice.

    Relevance is key though – a post about new laws taking place in VA wouldn’t exactly have relevance on Agent Genius, for example. Taking it a step further, I think it’s nice to revise the words a little bit at least 🙂

    My $.02.

  3. Jim Duncan June 30, 2008 at 15:40

    It’s a tough line to be drawn, and I agree with both of you. My question is more about what the landscape is going to look like in two years (or six months).

    The overlap in audience is small, I suspect, and there is tremendous value I think in placing the same/similar story in multiple places, but to what end?

    (I’m still figuring that part out)

  4. Ben Martin, Va Assn of REALTORS July 1, 2008 at 08:51

    Personally, I’m a purist about unique blog posts. I have never CTRL+V’d a post in my blogging career. It has nothing to do with SEO, it’s about authenticity and respect for readers.

    There are some inventive ways to re-purpose content for wider distribution, though. On that topic, here’s how I roll: I write a post on blog X, and then write related posts on blogs Y and Z (maybe even excerpting portions from blog X), while linking to X within those posts on Y and Z. This way, all blogs get unique content and also some linkature. I personally think it’s a nice middle ground on this topic. YMMV.

  5. Fred R July 1, 2008 at 11:11

    Jim writes in the comment section,

    “The overlap in audience is small, I suspect, and there is tremendous value I think in placing the same/similar story in multiple places, but to what end?”

    If you want the opinion of a non-RE professional, I would encourage duplicate content. For instance, I read this blog regularly (b/c not only do I plan to purchase in the next year, but it also has good community info) but the only reason I go over to VAR blog or other RE blogs is through links from this blog. Sure, I’ll surf around a bit once I’m there. But I think there are lots of readers who have their own personal “blogrolls,” and for them duplicate content isn’t an issue. In fact, the writer/blogger would MISS certain readers if content wasn’t duplicated.

    As for Mr. Martin’s method–that’s usually a good way to go. As a reader, though, I occasionally find myself not returning to the original post if there are too many links.

  6. Jim Duncan July 1, 2008 at 11:25

    Fred –

    Thanks for the comment. I absolutely want non-RE professionals’ opinions (it’s one of the reasons I write so much!)

    And I agree with everything you said; I suspect that few of the consumer readers here care much about what happens at the national or state real estate focused sites.


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