Duplicate content and the effect of it on your on-site SEO is an important element to understand to avoid your top ranking position to change in the search engine results. Here I’ll reveal exactly what you need to know about duplicate content.
1. Defining Duplicate Content
Search engines don’t like copycats.
First and foremost it’s important to understand what Duplicate Content is. Duplicate Content is content that is either identical or very very similar that appears on more than one domain, i.e. across more than one website.
Here are a few examples of what is considered as duplicate content:
E-commerce product pages
This is one of the most common forms of duplicate content. Often on e-commerce sites, lots of products are very similar and therefore have nearly identical content on product pages. The problem here is that Google see’s this as duplicate content!
Republishing corporate content
Companies that have corporate news want the world to know so they publish it onto their website and also the same content onto another site. Without changing any of the content, this will be is counted as duplicated.
Not changing your domain name
Your website was set-up as www.mywebsite.com but searchers type mywebsite.com. Google will think these are two different websites and therefore mark the URLs of one of the sites as duplicate content.
- Duplicate content is identical/very similar content that appears on more than one domain
- Examples that could be seen as duplicate content are e-commerce product pages, republishing corporate content or not changing your domain name
2. Google’s view
Because Google’s opinion always counts.
Now you all know how important it is to please Google and the search engine also has its own view on duplicate content. The good thing is that Google doesn’t penalize sites for this but…does discourage it!
The problem for Google is that they want to be able to give credit to the original content creator but if there’s two domains with identical content, this confuses the search engine and they won’t know which domain to send the visitors to. Duplicate content can also cause problems with your search engine rankings. If your web page contains the same content as another web page, Google will have difficulty in knowing which page is the original one to take into account for the ranking query. At the end of the day, Google will rank the site that is more authoritative whether it happens to be your site or not.
However like I said above, Google doesn’t penalize sites for spreading similar content across the web but its algorithms do have methods put in place to penalize those who steal your content. Even the numerical world doesn’t accept theft .
- Google doesn’t penalize sites for this but discourages it
- Google won’t know what page to take into account for the ranking query
- Google’s algorithms only penalize rankings of those who steal content
3. The effect on users
You need to be providing the Casa de Papel effect.
You may think that only Google is affected by duplicate content but it also affects internet searchers. Like everyone, we use the internet to search for an answer and as much as we don’t want to be seen as demanding, we expect to find credible information straight away 🙈.
If a user happens to see identical content across more than one domain, they’ll question which content is the most relevant and which content to believe. Users need reassurance that the information they find is correct and information that they use is from a trusted source. Remember your content marketing also needs to have the customer put first.
- It causes visitors to question which content is the most relevant and most credible
- Users need reassurance that they’re in the right place for the information they need
4. Content reposting
I want my content to be seen by as many people as possible!
You write an amazing article for your blog and you want the whole world to see how great it is! One way to do this is content reposting; posting your content onto another site with a link to your site to the original piece of content.
The advantages of this technique are that it saves you time in promoting your brand because the content is already written, more people see your brand name thus directing readers to your website and increasing your website traffic, and it also improves your authority in the industry as readers are seeing that you know what you’re talking about. Remember it’s important to repost your content on a trusted site such as Medium.
However, the problem with reposting in terms of duplicate content is that if the platform that you’re reposting your content onto has a higher authority than your site e.g. more traffic, more links, higher amount of content shares, then Google will prioritize that site in its ranking query. My advice is to leave some time between posting your original piece and reposting it on another website. This gives Google time to index the right one.
- Reposting can increase your website traffic, authority and increase your brand name presence online
- However, the reposting site could be more authoritative than your site
- Leave some time between posting your original piece and reposting it somewhere else
5. What’s not counted
Phew! Something I don’t need to worry about!
Making sure your content is unique and original doesn’t have to take over your life as they’re (fortunately) some things that don’t count as duplicate content (I hear a deep sigh there ).
First of all translated content doesn’t count, so if you translate your website or a blog article, that counts as separate, unique content. I would however advise that you don’t use an automated translation tool (as a foreign language speaker here, Google Translation is my arch enemy!). They’re likely to produce mistakes and if it doesn’t make natural sense, then Google might see it as spammy, duplicate content.
Secondly the content of your mobile version site isn’t seen as duplicated content to your desktop version. Google has different search bots for mobile sites so you don’t need to worry if both your sites contain the same content.
- Translated content isn’t seen as duplicated content
- Content on your Mobile website is seen as separate content
6. How to avoid duplicate content
It’s time to play by the books now.
You’ve probably been wondering how you can avoid duplicate content issues on your website, in other words specifying the ‘correct’ piece of content. Well there are a few technical ways to do this which I’ll explain here:
301 redirections can be put in place to send the ‘duplicate page’ to the original page. This means the pages containing the same content are no longer competing with each other.
Add a rel-canonical
You need to tell or influence Google which page is canonical so that it crawls the duplicate pages less often. If you don’t add this tag, Google will choose itself and could cause further problems down the line.
Specify your preferred domain in Google Search Console
Google Search Console lets you choose your preferred domain so that your mywebsite.com address isn’t seen as duplicating www.mywebsite.com, both URLs are for one website.
And it doesn’t just have to be technical. To avoid having to do any of this all you need to do is produce unique, original pieces of content on your website. Google rewards those who don’t go around taking other websites' content.
- There are technical ways such as a 301 redirects, adding a rel-canonical and specifying your preferred domain name in Google Search Console
- Produce original, unique pieces of content for your website
7. How do I detect Duplicate Content?
3…2…1. Coming, ready or not!
An easy and worthwhile thing to do to detect if you have any duplicate content issues is to carry out an SEO site scan. A site scan tool will analyze your entire website and bring-up any pages that contain identical content so that you can start fixing it as quickly as possible.
Luckily for you I have a tool in mind for you, CocoScan. CocoScan scans your website quickly and will provide you with a list of the URLs that need fixing. And the best thing…once you’ve fixed your errors you can rescan page-by-page to avoid having to rescan your whole website!
- A site scan will detect any duplicate content issues on your site
- CocoScan is a good tool to scan your website quickly
- You will get a list of all the URLs containing duplicate content
Duplicate content can be tricky to get your head around but it’s important you check your website and fix this issue quickly to avoid any negative influence on your search rankings.