Duplicate Content and SEO: The Ultimate Guide
What comes to your mind when you think of Duplicate Content?
You probably think about copied and scraped content. Though Google Does not limit Duplicate Content to that alone.
Duplicate Content refers to similar content that appears within or across domains, in more than one web address.
This type of content can greatly affect your site’s ranking and SEO.
This ultimate guide discusses Duplicate Content and its impact on SEO in detail.
Learn how you can get rid of Duplicate Content on your site to increase your rankings.
What is Duplicate Content?
You are writing quality content but it does not rank. What could be the reason?
Either you are not following SEO techniques, or you have Duplicate Content.
That does not mean that you have copied someone else’s work but that your content is available on different URLs and domains.
It is difficult to write 100 percent unique content. However, it is possible that it is not you who is writing similar content but someone else.
After all, for Google content is content simply and SEO ranks content higher than who originally wrote it.
If you are a big and renowned website, there are high chances of this happening.
Moreover, it is equally possible that they are ranking higher than you on Search engines even by writing similar content than yours.
However, that may not always be the case.
Sometimes it is your own site that is resulting in duplicate pages and content.
Either way, it affects the way Google indexes and ranks your site.
The algorithms get confused about what version to index and which version of the URL should be ranked. Moreover, they do not know to which link on anchor text should be directed.
Therefore, it is bad for your SEO.
Google may not issue a duplicate content penalty to you but they may rank others who are scrapping your content higher than you.
You also lose traffic when you have different versions of the same content within your site.
This affects link equity and people link to different versions, hence spreading your link equity and affecting your traffic.
So how can you avoid Duplicate Content?
In order to understand that, you will have to know their different types.
Internal Duplicate Content
This refers to duplicate content on the same website. It happens due to the same internal URLs on your site.
A search engine considers a URL as the unique identifier of a web page.
Hence, URL variations can occur due to URL parameters.
These parameters occur because of analytics code and click-tracking which can slightly make a newer version of the same URL.
Moreover, unique session IDs assigned to each new user can also create duplicate URLs of the same content.
These IDs appear at the end of the URL and then you will have different versions of the same webpage.
Parameters or session IDs will not change the content of the page but Search Engines will consider the changed URL as a duplicate content.
Other than URLs with parameters, you will also have to deal with different site versions.
If your site has only versions with www and https:// then you have effectively avoided this issue.
However, if your site works on www and without www moreover, if it shows as both http:// and https:// than you have duplicate versions of your site.
Check if your site shows the same content with:
You will inevitably face duplicate content problems if your site has all these different versions along with and without a trailing slash at the end of the URL.
It will be harder for search engines to index and rank your website when these multiple versions can cause confusion.
External Duplicate Content
This type of duplicate content is between websites that means search engines have indexed two domains that have similar content.
Duplicate content does not necessarily have to be completely copied or scraped.
Content that is mildly paraphrased can also be similar and damage your ranking and traffic.
Website owners can use spinbots to rewrite your text, however, they may not be able to replace and rewrite your branding terms and change your writing style.
Hence, even if people want to steal your content to increase their rankings and traffic, it is easier to identify them.
Other than scrapped content, you may come across syndicated content.
This happens when someone decides to republish a piece of content that you originally published on your site.
Now, this is actually beneficial. As it can drive more traffic and visitors to your site provided you gave the consent to republish the article.
Though, it will also create duplicate content which can harm you a little.
Another source of duplicate content is product information.
If you run an e-commerce website, you will likely face this issue.
Most people input the product information provided by the product owners and manufacturers.
Hence, if many people sell the same item, there will be multiple duplicate contents across the web creating an issue for your store to not rank higher.
These are the causes of duplicate content on your site and all these badly affect your site’s SEO.
So what are the ways to solve these issues? Let’s discuss them below.
How to solve these issues?
You can identify whether your site has duplicate content with the help of certain tools.After that, you can separately and collectively solve internal and external duplicate content issues.
By incorporating a few changes you can bring your site’s ranking and traffic to the top without the fear of duplicate content. Read them below.
Tools to identify duplicate content
An easy way to check if Google is indexing duplicate content from your site is to let Google be your duplicate content checker.
Just write site:yoursite.com in Google search bar and it will show you all the category pages Google indexes.
This way you can find out the same pages that appear more than once because of minor URL changes and make them separate pages.
You can also use Google Search Console to give you an exact idea of the number of pages indexed.
Moreover, you can try Copyscape to check for duplicate content on your own webpage.
If any of your content has been copied, it will identify the site link that has the same content.
Another way to identify duplicate content is to use Siteliner, which lists out all of the pages on your website with the same content.
The simplest way of finding copied content is though by simply searching your content.
If anyone is scarping your content, they may not use the same Headings but will contain the same content.
Hence, quote a large section of your content and search it in the search bar of any Search Engine. If other pages return with the same content, then they have likely copied from your content.
Moreover, if you are doubtful that you may have some similarity with the content on other sites with the same topic, then you should use plagiarism checkers.
It is hard to write completely unique content especially if you have researched on other web pages with similar content.
Hence, using plagiarism checkers like Turnitin will easily identify any similarities which you can remove to make unique content.
Steps to solve this problem
If you have identified similar posts with multiple URLs on your own website, then you can use these steps to ensure that they are taken care of.
The canonical tag helps to tell Search Engines that a particular page is actually a copy of another page with a specific URL.
Therefore after putting the rel=canonical attribute, ranking power, metrics and links associated with this particular duplicate page are accredited to the URL of the main page.
You can also block pages by using a noindex tag or robots.txt, a meta noindex, follow.
This signals Google to crawl those duplicate pages but do not include them in their indices.
However, Google says that using a canonical URL is much better than choosing to block your page or multiple pages.
Use 301 redirect
You can also choose to redirect your duplicate content pages to one original page.
You can use this redirect to let Google only process the original page and not the redirected pages.
Plus when these redirected pages are combined with the original one they give more relevancy and popularity to that content.
Thus this redirect helps the original page’s ranking.
Deleting duplicate content pages, redirecting and adding a canonical tag is the best way to stop Google from indexing your duplicate pages.
Use Google Search Console to set a preferred domain
You can choose a preferred domain in Google Search Console either it is with www or without it.
This way you will just have one fixed version of your site and not other several versions that Google bots will crawl and index.
Moreover, you can also choose if URLs with parameters are considered different or one single URL.
This way you will also solve the problem of parameters and session IDs.
Other ways to solve duplicate content problems
Incorporate all SEO techniques in your content.
The least you can do to avoid duplicate content is to write unique H1, H2 and H3 headings.
Also do not forget to write your own unique meta description.
This will make your content stand out and this can at least prevent you from unintentionally copying content as well.
For product descriptions, you can try writing your own unique description style using copywriting practices.
You will have to keep the description as the manufacturer likes but by incorporating a few writing changes you can at least make a difference.
If you have found that someone else is copying your content, you can report them to Google under Copyright and other legal issues.
Google may stop indexing their website.
Duplicate content is bothersome as it can affect your SEO and ranking.
However, it is not that difficult to solve this issue.
Therefore, do not prolong it and check your website’s duplicate pages soon.
We have covered Duplicate Content thoroughly in this Ultimate Guide. Let us know if this was helpful.