When creating high-quality content for your website, it makes sense to want to share it in multiple places.
Doing so will ensure that more people will see it and engage with it.
But how you share your content can make or break your rankings.
In this post, we’ll discuss the pitfalls of duplicate content, how it can be avoided, and much more.
What is Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content happens when exact or near-exact content appears on the web in more than one place either on or off your site.
According to Google, duplicate content is defined as “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin.”
Typically, this happens accidentally or via a substandard technical implementation. For example, your content could be available on both HTTP and HTTPS at the same time.
You can split duplicate content into two categories:
- Internal duplicate content—this occurs when one domain produces duplicate content through multiple internal URLs.
- External duplicate content—in this case, two or more different domains have content that is indexed by the search engines.
Google’s John Mueller notes a site won’t necessarily take a ranking hit if it includes duplicate content as it’s normal for sites to have some duplicate content.
He also notes that when Googlebot discovers copied text, “it’s not so much that there’s a negative score associated with it. It’s more that, if we find exactly the same information on multiple pages on the web and someone searches specifically for that piece of information, then we’ll try to find the best matching page.”
Regardless, it’s a good idea to avoid duplicate content all together or use canonicals.
How to Check for Duplicate Content
If you Google “duplicate content,” you’ll find that there are a number of ways to determine whether you have any of these issues on your site.
To do a manual check, you can take a block of text from a few of your primary pages, put them in quotes, and conduct a quick Google search. If more than one version shows up in the search results, you can take a second look at what’s causing the duplication issue.
You can also review the information in the Google Search Console to see if the number of pages indexed are consistent with the number of pages on your site.
Does Duplicate Content Affect SEO?
- When it comes to duplicate content, SEO can be negatively affected for a few reasons:
- Undesirable or unfriendly URLs appearing in search results
- Backlink dilution when two URLs rank in Google for similar keywords
- Burns crawl budget as duplicate content creates more work for Google
- Syndicated or republished content outranking your site
Duplicate Content Penalties
While Google technically doesn’t impose a duplicate content penalty, it does filter identical content, resulting in a loss of rankings for your web pages.
The good news is that it rarely affects most sites. In some cases, copied content can trigger a review. If the reviewer determines that the site or web page violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, a manual action will be issued and the web page or site will either plummet in the rankings or be completely removed from search results.
How to Fix and Prevent Duplicate Content Issues
Thankfully, there are plenty of measures you can take to proactively tackle duplicate content issues head-on. Here are a few recommendations:
- Keep your internal linking consistent
- Use top-level domains wherever possible
- Familiarize yourself with your content management system
- Consolidate pages that are similar
- Avoid publishing pages in which there isn’t any real content yet
As long as there are people who are trying to take shortcuts on the internet, you are going to come across duplicate content issues.
The key is to keep an eye out for them and address any technical mishaps as they arise.
Ultimately, if you create content that’s relevant, original, and optimized, you can avoid the risk of duplicate content entirely.