The goal of a search engine is to deliver the best results based on your search request. How they do that is by indexing information the “bots” find on literally billions of pages and sites. The algorithms sort through this information. Based on known information they rank the content.
This is kind of what people can think of when they hear the term AI. It’s not being done by a person, because that is entirely unfeasible. It’s like a maze, trying to determine which way to go to reach the goal – delivering the best results for the user.
So, if there is a great article about something like COVID vaccines, and that article gets duplicated all over the Internet because it is very important information, then the bots and algorithms have to decide which of the articles to deliver in a search engine results page (SERP).
Obviously, an important article like that should be at the top of the search results, but a search engine doesn’t want to have pages and pages of links to the same article on the SERPs. So, they pick one based on origin, date and site authority to hopefully have the original article in the search results.
This is an ongoing discussion and many people have different ideas about how duplicate content either helps you or hurts you, or whether it means anything at all.
Another observation is that website managers who copy and paste important content hurt themselves, or don’t help themselves, because the bots can see that happening. When they collect information the algorithm can determine it was just cut and pasted. This is said by some people to damage your site’s reputation. Some people feel like it makes no different because the bots and algorithms will figure out the origin of the content and that will be the one that gets listed on a SERP.
There is a ton of duplicate content on the Internet, and it is more likely that instead of hurting your reputation, it just doesn’t do anything to help you. If the content is a cut and pasted the search engines will identify it as such and just ignore it. So, while you may think it helps your site by including this important information, it really does nothing at all to help you.
The search engines would rather see a link to the original article which increases the value and importance of the original. Then they know where to place it in SERPs. In this way, it increases the importance, value and ranking of important information.
So, you can see that creating really great content is the best way to improve your appearance on SERPs. Given that there are millions of people creating content, it is a very competitive environment to come up with material that people are going to find that interesting or valuable. If you come up with just the right thing, it could go viral, and that’s kinda what everyone wants to accomplish.