At one point, you might have heard or come across the term “duplicate content.” You may also have read through how it affects your ranking on search engines negatively and how it might attract certain penalties if done repeatedly. Well, while duplicate content can affect your ranking negatively, it doesn’t attract any defined penalty whatsoever.
The questions, then, would be:
- What is Duplicate content?
- How does it affect your SEO?
- How can you solve duplicate content issues?
This article sets out to answer these questions and also clear all other misconceptions surrounding the concept of Duplicate content.
What is Duplicate Content?
Simply put, Duplicate content is any content that shows up on the internet more than once. This implies that the content is available on more than one web address.
How Does Google Define Duplicate Content?
According to Google, “Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely matches other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin.”
The last part of this definition contains the distinction between duplicate content and copied content. When you spin, copy or scrape content with the sole intention of deceiving search engines to rank higher, that is copied content. To this end google stated that, “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action against that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”
Does Duplicate Content Really Matter?
Duplicate content matters in more ways than you could possibly imagine. It affects both search engines and site owners differently.
- Search engines: Duplicate content can present 3 basic problems for search engines:
- They have no idea which content to add or remove from their indexes.
- They have no idea as to whether their link metrics should be directed to just one page or separated amongst the different versions of the content.
- They don’t know which content should rank when searched.
- Site owners: Generally, Duplicate content affects site owners negatively. The presence of duplicate content exposes site owners to loss in areas of traffic and ranking.
Types of Duplicate Content Issues
Most times, site owners create duplicate content unintentionally, and a great deal of duplicate content exists. Figures have shown that over 29% of the content on the internet is Duplicate content. Now it’s important to consider the most frequent forms of duplicate content created.
- Alternate versions of URLs: URL parameters can give rise to duplicate content problems. This problem can be a result of the order in which the parameters appear on the URL, not because of the parameters themselves.
- WWW vs non-WWW pages: In situations where your website has these different versions but the same content, you’ve successfully created duplicate content. This also applies to http:// and https:// pages.
- Copied or scraped content: If another site copies the content on your site and uses it without making changes to it or makes only very slight alterations, then duplicate content is the result. This is no different from when you reuse the content on your site for a different page. The effect of copied content runs quite deep.
Solving duplicate content issues still boils down to the same key idea: specify which copy is the correct one. It’s more technical than that in the real world, however.
How Do I Prevent Duplicate Content on My Website?
Let’s consider different approaches to solving Duplicate content issues:
- 301 Redirect: For most people, this is the best approach to tackling duplicate content issues. This method involves setting up a 301 redirect from the duplicate page straight to the original page, thereby fusing the pages into one in a way. Then the pages stop going up against each other for ranking and the consolidated page has greater relevance and therefore a better chance of ranking higher.
- Rel=” canonical”: One essential piece of machinery in the arsenal for fighting duplicate content is the rel=” canonical” tag. It indicates that a particular page should be seen as a copy of a particular URL. It tells search engines that all the links, rankings and metrics that they would ordinarily accord to the page should be attributed to the specified URL.
- Creative, original, and quality content: Another effective method of fighting duplicate content is putting your writing skills to good use, or hiring a writer to produce unique content for you. Google is always on the lookout for quality that matches searchers’ intent. To this end, it is quite important that you come up with genuine content to match this quest for quality. Instead of duplicating content from your own or other sites, take your time to research good topics, gather information and generate fresh content. This way your content will remain relevant for a really long time.
What Do You Do When Someone Copies Your Website Content?
First, you need to link consistently all throughout your website. For instance, if the canonical version of your site is www.site.com, then all subsequent links should not deviate from this form (i.e. you should have no links that omit the WWW).
Then you need to add a self-referential rel=” canonical” tag to protect your content. Content scrapers will not be able to steal your content’s ranking power since, as above, the tag will indicate which page should be tagged as the original and thus, prioritized by the search engines – i.e. your page. This method, however, only works for scrapers who use the full HTML code of your content.
Duplicate content can affect your SEO and rankings, whether on your website or another person’s. If Google sees the same article in more than one location, your site will not get the traffic and ranking that it should. Luckily, by taking a few extra precautions, you can solve the problem of duplicate content on your website, ensuring that you get the traffic that your content deserves.
Good site structure will also help you eliminate the chances of duplicate content appearing on your website. Don’t know anything about site structure? Check out our complete guide on building proper site structure.
Now that you know quite a lot about duplicate content, it’s time to use this knowledge and use your duplicates as part of your SEO strategy.