What is duplicate content?
Duplicate content means ending up with the same content than your neighbour (or yourself!) on your website. That means that the same text from two or more web pages is either on the same or on two different sites.
Do you remember when in high school, a few hours before giving back a paper on a Midsummer Night’s Dream, you were frantically searching on Google information to complete your work? You surely shamelessly copied an entire block from a website! This is the definition of duplicate content. Because if you end up with the same text than another person, it’s either a theft/plagiarism or copy/paste from your part!
Duplicate Content and SEO
SEO enters the game at that point. In order to ensure SEO quality (Search Engine Optimization), Google or any other search engine heavily penalizes duplicate content. This means that a website that has too much duplicate content may end up very far in the search results, or may even completely disappear from the search engines.
A duplicate content on multiple pages of a site may be the result of a human mistake; indeed the same content, such as an image, a text or a link can be found on two different URLs on the same website. This happens frequently when using a CMS. In the case of WordPress for example, same items may be available for different URLs when tags or categories are applied. We must therefore pay close attention to the setting of permalinks.
Duplicate content is also often the case of a technical error. It is indeed common to have thousands of pages duplicated in the case of an ecommerce website. The error is explained in particular due to the faceted browsing, that is to say multiple filters that allow access to the same product with different URLs. The problem with this kind of case is that robots spend considerable time crawling thousands of pages generated by dynamic navigation, and it negatively affects your SEO.
Nevertheless, we found most often duplicate content on different websites. This varies, ranging from a very similar article on two websites, to extracts of a text seen on another site. In fact, this often happens when websites employ the same content provider! Which quickly becomes a handicap, as this prevents the website ending up in the top search results. We know it is long and tedious to customize your content when you have hundreds of products, but this can actually save your ranking on search engines. If you are a tire dealer for example, and you have exactly the same description on your site than on the Pirelli website, who do you think Google will favour? It is therefore imperative to value original content.
There are other scenarios possible. Sometimes RSS feeds can be retrieved in XML format and are displayed on websites across the web. It is also possible for plagiarism to be voluntary! Indeed, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in order to manipulate the site’s ranking on search engines to increase traffic. Of course, SEO will be heavily penalized on your website. Moreover, plagiarism is legally sanctioned when providing evidence of intellectual property.
There are many other reasons for having duplicate content: a site http and https, a site with and without www, a replicated site because the development site is online etc.
How can you avoid duplicate content?
- Regularly check the URLs and pages of your website.
- If you redo your website, use 301 redirections “Permanent Redirect”, which redirects users and Googlebot to the new URLs and not the old ones!
- Use the “canonicalization”; sometimes multiple URLs have the same content but are different. Just adopt the canonical URL that specifies which URL is the original of several very close URLs. The tag is: <link rel = “canonical” href = “url” />. Place it in the HTML header of your page, between <head /> and </ head />.
- Check regularly on Google that a part of your content was not stolen. Copy a few lines from an article of your website and paste them into Google. He will find the thief!
- Before purchasing the content of a third party, stipulate in your contract that he must write original content. If this is not possible, rewrite the content by modifying it seriously.
- Minimize similar content. Let’s say you’re a travel agent: if you have two pages on two countries formulated in the same way, consider grouping them into a single page to avoid duplicate content, or just rewrite them.
- Use Webmaster Tools to tell Google how to index your site.
Duplicate content, your worst enemy?
As a result, duplicate content does not cause irremediable consequences if duplication is not voluntary, since it can be modified. However, Google is responsible for identifying sites using deceptive techniques, to permanently oust them from research results. This is a heavy penalty for an ecommerce website!
However, you can ask Google to reassess your website if it has been banned for duplication. Go to Google Webmaster Tools for this. You also have the option to file a claim for infringement of your copyright on this website.
Therefore, follow My Little Big Web’s advice assiduously in order not to lose your place in the search results. And above all, write original content! Now that you know how to avoid duplicate content, learn how to create SEO content!