What is duplicate content?
Duplicate content simply means that similar content is found somewhere else on a website or on the internet. This could be in the form of webpages, blocks of text, page titles, meta titles and descriptions and duplicate URL’s. There are many myths within the web development and SEO community about Google punishing websites that have duplications within a site and its content. This is simply not the case. Although duplicating content can negatively affect traffic performances that come through Google. They don’t yet have an algorithm or ranking factor that decreases or punishes the SEO score. They may however remove duplicate content from the search index and this can significantly decrease online traffic to a site. Let’s take a look at how Google handles duplicate content and then look at solutions to fix and avoid it.
There are many websites that have produced literally over one million website pages to expand their array of related and exact match search queries. Exact match queries have a greater chance to connect phrases within the search results to a website. That said, it’s understandable why Google has had to take action against duplicate content. Let’s take a look at a few important factors that should be considered when developing a high quality site.
Common causes of duplicate content
Preferred Domains are something worth taking the time to understand. A website may come in multiple versions including www and non-www, HTTP and HTTPS and dedicated mobile M.example.com and tablet T.example.com versions. The different domain versions might have exactly the same content and will need to be canonically linked using an element in the HTML header.
Print Friendly Versions of a webpage can be created that contain a slightly different version that allows users to print content. This can sometimes be on a different URL. If the page title, text and Metadata are exactly the same but the URL is different. It may be seen by search engines as duplicate content.
URL Parameters can be used to track user behaviours but it can also lead to duplicate content problems because the content will often look the same to the search engines crawlers.
Session IDs can often create a new URL when a webpage is updated. This can cause a duplicate content problem between the new URL and the old one.
Any form of creating a new URL that contains the same content or that is very similar somewhere else on a website may cause duplicate content problems. Duplicate page titles and metadata may also affect which pages might be dropped from the search index.
How to fix and avoid duplicate content?
The canonical link element is the best way to solve duplicate content, besides just not duplicating content on a website. It will also solve multiple website versions which sometimes will be necessary on a site. The canonical link is simply a way to tell search engines that a URL or website version is a duplicate of another URL or version. This makes a big impact for strengthening the inbound link profile that can give quality link authority to a website or webpage.
‘No Index, Follow’ meta tag works great for handling duplicate content. It simply tells search engines to follow the links on a page but not to index the page itself. This can improve search engine crawling further into a website and may significantly reduce the chance of a duplicated webpage being flagged.
<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>
Link to original source when creating a page that has content that is taken from another web page. This can be done by referencing the source with a hyperlink and by using the canonical link element or both.
Example: Source – wikipedia.org
Make webpages with at-least twenty percent unique wording in the page title, page text and meta title and descriptions. It’s also a good idea to add value to the content if you are duplicating pages.
Google search console has two features that can help to manage duplicate content. In the ‘Search Appearance’ menu there is a function called ‘HTML Improvements’. In here you can find webpages that Google Considers to have duplicate ‘Meta Titles’ and also ‘Meta Descriptions’. This is a great feature for identifying duplicate content problems within a site. In the ‘Google Index’ menu there is a function called ‘Remove URLs’. This allows you to send a request to Google to remove or hide duplicate URL’s from the search index. Removing URL’s may come in handy when trying to clean up duplicated content from a site.
How does duplicate content affect SEO?
Sometimes it makes sense to duplicate webpages. A website might offer a service in two locations and it will benefit users to have more tailored and specific information on each individual page. This can positively impact website traffic if implemented correctly using the techniques in this article. If one simply copies a webpage and changes a few words and pastes it into a new URL, the chances are that it may simply not generate very much if any organic traffic from Google and other top search engines.
WEB SWIFT SEO best practice
Rather than duplicating content it will be far more beneficial to find a unique niche on the internet and to create a professional site with content that really gives the users something special. There a lot of highly competitive online industries on the internet that are not worth trying to infiltrate unless you are the best or at-least as good or better than the competition. Even then without having a professional website and SEO strategy it can sometimes take time to generate healthy amounts of traffic. By specialising in a unique niche and providing original high quality content the chances of creating online success will rapidly increase.