It's well-known among webmasters that publishing duplicate web content is SEO suicide, but Matt Cutts reports it's safe when appropriate.

There’s an exception to every rule, including SEO best practices. In the most recent Google Webmaster Help Channel video, Matt Cutts explains why companies in technical fields don’t have to worry about being punished for publishing duplicate online content. This piece of advice applies to financial and pharmaceutical companies that are required to host terms and conditions or legal disclaimers on their websites.

“Unless the content that you have is spammy or keyword stuffed or something like that – then there might be an algorithm or a person might take action on it, but if it’s a legal boilerplate that’s sort of required to be there, we might at most not want to count that,” he says.

Chances are it might even help sites earn better positions in SERPs, Cutts adds. In fact, he points out that it might even compromise Google’s overall search quality to punish sites for posting appropriate legal forms, disclaimers and warnings to their sites.

This update comes in contrast with long-standing warnings issued by the search engine that publishing unoriginal content will hurt domains’ standings in search. However, it’s in line with Cutts’ recent statements that SEO guidelines aren’t necessarily hard-and-fast rules. Webmasters must use their best judgment and always do what’s best for site visitors.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.