Regarding duplicate content and its impact on SEO, it is an issue that can cause confusion for search engines when crawling a website. Duplicate content can occur in two ways, either internally when multiple pages within the same website have similar or identical content, or externally when content from a website is copied and posted onto other websites. In both cases, search engines may struggle to determine which version of the content is the most authoritative or valuable, potentially resulting in a lower ranking for the affected website. However, there are ways to address this issue, such as using canonical tags or 301 redirects to consolidate content or indicating the preferred version of content to search engines.
In this article, we will go over what duplicate content is, how to avoid duplicate content, how to find duplicate content on your website, what to do if your website has duplicate content, and how to prevent duplicate content in the future.
What Is Duplicate Content And How Does It Affect SEO?
Duplicate content refers to blocks of text (body copy) or entire web pages that are either completely identical or very similar to content found on other pages of the same website. When search engines like Google crawl a website and discover duplicate content, they may have difficulty determining which version of the content to rank in search results. As a result, the pages Google sees as duplicate content will be ranked much lower or even unfit to rank on its search engine. This can also lead to other pages of that website being penalized causing overall lower rankings.
If you’ve spent time optimizing your website and staying on top of SEO best practices, duplicate content can cause a big hit to your website’s overall rankings. Duplicate content can dilute the value of a website’s content in the eyes of search engines. When multiple pages on a website contain similar or identical content, search engines may view the website as less authoritative and valuable overall.
Even if the duplicate content isn’t on the same website, it can still cause problems. When other websites post the same or similar content as a particular website, search engines may not give credit to the original source of the content. This can lead to the other websites ranking higher in search results, leaving the original website in the dust.
How Can You Avoid Duplicate Content?
First things first – create your own unique content. Don’t steal body copy from other websites, your content has to be original, and make sure your content is fresh and engaging.
But what if you have pages that are similar and would rank for similar keywords?
You can use something called canonical tags. This tells search engines which page is the original and which one is the duplicate. So, they’ll know which one to index and you won’t have to worry about duplicate content issues.
Another trick you can use is something called 301 redirects. If you have duplicate pages on your website, you can redirect traffic from the duplicate page to the original page. This will also cause all traffic to the duplicate page to go to the original page. If the duplicate page had backlinks pointing to it, this will also pass on its link authority.
We know content syndication is a part of many websites’ online marketing plans. However, you don’t want to copy-paste your content everywhere, this is still duplicate content. Instead of pasting the same content, have syndication websites post a summary of your content and link back to the original. You can also include a canonical link to further avoid duplicate content from syndicate pages.
Over time as your website grows and you write more blog posts you might have articles that overlap. In this case, consider combining their content and creating a mega article. If you do this be sure to setup a 301 redirect to avoid 404 errors.
How To Find Duplicate Content?
There are tools you can use, like Copyscape or Siteliner, to help you identify and avoid duplicate content issues.
You can also use Google Search Console’s page experience tools to check your website for duplicate content. This is one of the best tools to use during your regular website audits when looking for duplicate content, and other areas to optimize your website.
Another way to check if you’ve accidentally duplicated content from another published source is to throw your content into an online plagiarism checker. These tools will then give you a plagiarism percentage score and let you know what parts of your page should be rewritten to avoid duplicate content penalties.
What Should You Do If Your Website Has Duplicate Content?
If you’ve discovered duplicate content errors on your website it’s best to fix them immediately. Remember, having duplicate content can hurt your SEO, so it’s important to address any issues as soon as possible.
How Can You Avoid Duplicate Content In The Future?
Avoiding duplicate content will help your website provide better content for your visitors and rank higher in search results. Now that we’ve covered how to fix duplicate content on your website, let’s go over how to avoid duplicate content from appearing in the first place.
When creating content make sure that it is always unique and never written before. If you need to cite a source you can include an outbound link and reword facts or statements in your own tone.
Alternatively, if you have many pages on your website but some have thin content you can include canonical links to another page and add the thin content URL to your robots.txt file to tell search engines not to index it. This will tell search engines which pages should be indexed and which pages should be ranked.
The last thing we recommend you do to avoid duplicate content on your website is to set up a monitoring tool like Copyscape or Screaming Frog. These tools will immediately let you know if you are on the verge of creating duplicate content and give you suggestions on how to fix your writing to avoid duplicate content penalties.
If you want to learn more about duplicate content and how it affects your SEO check out the rest of our blog.