One thing that search engines hate is Duplicate Content. It is a major SEO issue that trouble content marketers who put in hard efforts to create original content for their website or blog.
Duplicate content can negatively affect the rankings of a webpage. In this post, we will assist you in understanding everything about duplicate content and offer you ways to solve the problem.
What is Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content can hit blog posts, product descriptions of e-commerce sites, or website. Theoretically, it refers to content within or across domains that have content exactly matching to each other or are almost similar.
In a broader perspective, Google considers two types of content as duplicate:
- Content on the same domain and
- Similar content across numerous domains.
Hence, duplicate content is the same as content appearing on numerous pages of your site. It could be the content, present on your website in various locations, or is reachable through multiple ways, resulting in various URL parameters. An example of this is having the same posts on various URLs when the search is done.
Let’s look at the different types of duplicate content to have a better understanding.
Why You Must Care About Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content is of great significance for both search engines and site owners.
Duplicate content confuses search engines for the original version of the content. It confuses them regarding direct link metrics such as link equity, anchor text, authority, and more. Eventually, they don’t know which site version to rank high for query results.
Website owners can suffer huge ranking and traffic loss because of duplicate content. To offer the best experience, search engines rarely show various versions of the same type of content. Moreover, it can dilute link equity further as other websites have to select between duplicates as well. This affects inbound links and ultimately the visibility of your content on search engines.
Types of Duplicate Content:
1. Copied or Syndicated Content:
A large number of bloggers use comments, quotes, or content from other sites to present their articles. If you are linking back such posts to the original one then there is nothing incorrect in it. But, Google still can consider it as duplication and therefore categorize them as low-quality content pieces.
2. Duplicate or Copied Product Descriptions:
Some e-commerce websites often use product descriptions from other manufacturers to sell their own products. The issue is that similar products are being sold to various e-commerce portals. This way, a similar description appears on various websites and result in duplicate content.
3. URL Issues:
URLs like HTTP, www, .com, https, and .com/index.html are considered as distinct by Google even if they direct to similar pages and will treat them as duplicate content.
4. Categorizing and Multi-Pages Lists:
Numerous e-commerce sites have category and filter options, which generate exclusive URLs. The product pages can display in distinct categories and are ordered differently based on how this list is sorted.
For example, if you categorize 40 products by alphabetical order or price, you will end up having two pages comprising the same content but in different URLs.
5. Session IDs:
This form of duplicate content refers to various session IDs stored within the same URL that is linked to a visitor when the website is visited by him.
The duplicate content issue can occur because of printable versions of content when distinct versions of a webpage are indexed.
7. Comment Pagination:
In WordPress as well as other systems, there is a possibility to paginate comments. As a result, the content is duplicated across URLs of an article or comment page.
Myths about Duplicate Content:
Duplicate content can result in a severe penalty from Google and this can fear most of the marketers. But along with knowing the different kinds of duplicate content, it is equally essential to know what does not contributes to duplicate content.
So, here we debunk some myths related to duplicate content.
1. Duplicate Content on Your Website will Hurt Your Site Rankings across Domain:
It is essential to have original content on your website, but there is no evidence available for non-original content hurting the ranking of a website.
A few days back a website went live and their PR firm copied the home text and pasted it into their press release. Soon there were hundreds of pages online having the same content over the web. As a result, the domain was blacklisted by Google. Hence, it is not necessary that duplicate content will always affect your website’s ranking. It can result in more severe consequences as well.
2. Scrapers Can Damage Your Website:
Scrapers actually don’t hurt or help your website. But if a scraper outranks your website then you must report the same. Moreover, it is best to digitally sign your name to a piece of content as this will forever associate you as the author of that content.
Also, scraped content is absolutely different from plagiarized content. If you see any company plagiarizing your content, then you must take immediate harsh actions.
3. Republishing Guest Posts on Your Own Website can Hurt Your Website:
You might be practicing lots of guest blogging to attract customer’s attention and you must be tempting to republish the guest posts on your blog.
As an important rule, the content on your website must be original, but republishing your guest post comes from the intention to add value and not of being getting penalized.
You must use the canonical version, which is an almost official version of your blog. If you are republishing a content that has been already published then use the canonical tag to inform search engines the source of original content.
Also, rather than posting ‘how to’ content, you must post its evil version, which is ‘how not to’ content. Use distinct examples and add rich value to create a post that is similar to the content but is not original.
4. Syndicated Content is the Same as Duplicate Content:
Websites sharing news or information sometimes feature content that has been already published. However, they offer original analysis and commentary of the piece published by them. These sites give credit to the original creator of the content.
Also, content syndication is practiced by websites that produce no original content and rather scrape content off numerous websites and does not give credit to the original content creator.
So, if your website is a news or information site showing syndicated content then you don’t have to worry about anything. However, if you syndicate content without crediting the original content creator then this can result in a penalty from Google.
5. Translated Content Copy is Not Duplicate Content:
You might be translating your content copy from the original page into multiple languages and posting it on a regional website, thinking that it is not a problem. However, it can be a big problem even if the content is in another language.
The chances of getting a penalty are higher is you translate the content using an automatic tool or you copied the content in the English language without changing it into the regional language.
How to Identify Duplicate Content?
Luckily! There are different ways with which you can identify the duplicate content issues with your website.
1. Google Search Console:
This is one of the best ways to identify pages with duplicate content. It is because when you click on pages with duplicate titles or descriptions, Google search console will take you to the relevant URL and will help you identify the issue.
For example, if you are writing for one keyword and presenting it in more than one category with different titles then Google will not consider as duplicate content, but you can identify them while searching.
2. Look for Titles or Snippets:
Some search operators can help you identify duplicate content. You can use this to check all the URLs of your website.
Site:website.com intitle: ‘Keyword’
Google displays all the pages in website.com that have the keyword in the title. It is easy to identify duplicates with contents titles that are too specific. You can use the same technique to identify plagiarized content.
Intitle: ‘Keyword B’
You can also search entire sentences from an article as scrapers could create different titles. Sometimes, Google displays a notice below the search results stating that some similar results have not been considered. It indicates that Google is de-duping the results and you have to look at the complete results to identify whether any kind of error can be fixed.
3. Use Duplicate Content Checker Tool:
One of the fastest ways to identify duplicate content issues is by using a duplicate content checker tool. Using this tool can provide you answers immediately. With the help of such tools, you can identify duplicate content on your webpages and even reach out to the relevant source.
You can use such tools to identify external and internal sources that duplicate the content at your website. In most of the cases, these tools work similar to plagiarism checker tools and compare the content on your webpage with websites that have matching words and phrases.
How to Fix Duplicate Content Problems?
Duplicate content is a serious problem, but the good thing is that you can fix it in most of the cases. We list below some easy and amazing ways to fix different types of duplicate content issues.
Problem 1: Generic or Common Product Descriptions
Solution: It is easy to fix such content duplicate issues as its better you create useful, unique, and specific content for your audience. Your product description must clearly tell users what your product is, problems it can address, and its technical specifications.
Follow your own tone and wordings. Write down product descriptions based on the specific target audience.
Problem 2: Having Same Content at Multiple Pages in Your Website
Solution: To fix this issue, you must incorporate a ‘canonical URL’ on duplicate pages that refer back to the original source of the content. This way, you can avoid duplicate content issues on your website.
Problem 3: Having Similar Service Pages in Your Website
Solution: You can address and solve this problem in a variety of ways. The best way out is to create pages absolutely different from each other. However, if your pages revolve around the same subject, then it is better to use one of them as a service page and use others to describe things in details.
It is wise to remove the least valuable page and use a 301 redirect to the highly valuable page.
Problem 4: Your Website is Unable to handle www. and non-www. Versions of Your Website
Solution: The best way to resolve this is to perform testing. Remove the ‘www.’ part of your URL in your browser and site and then test it when you are trying to load the page. Your site URL can function properly if your redirect takes place from one to the other.
Problem 5: Using Content from Other Website on Your Own Website
Solution: This condition can occur mainly when your website’s content is copied to create a press release. Alternatively, it can occur if you use feeds to populate the specific areas of your website to display the latest events in a particular region.
If you continue practicing this method and copying content from other websites and you must convince yourself that you will never rank high in search engines.
Problem 6: Two Websites Selling Similar Products
Solution: It is quite a complex problem but you can definitely combat it. The finest solution is to combine the online presence into a single website. For business purposes, it is wise to display similar products on two different sites.
However, from a search engine perspective, it is not a good idea. It is because ultimately the two websites will be competing with each other for search engine results pages.
Duplicate content issues can happen at any time and with any website. Even if your website has hundreds or thousands of pages, still it can experience duplicate content problems. But now you know what issues it can lead to, hence it is essential to keep a close eye on it.
Luckily! The problem is fixable and can get your links quality rankings. So, get rid of duplicate content and reap great rewards for your website.