How to Deal with Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content issues can ruin the page ranking of your website. However, this issue is one of the easiest to overcome out other SEO problems you can face. Here’s what can be done to tackle these issues.

Double Double, Toil and Trouble

Duplicate content hampers the visibility of your website on search engine pages thereby adversely affecting your business. Since “content is king”, people often use the “copy and paste” method which is the quickest way to create more content in less time. Google easily recognizes this approach and penalizes those who use it. At times people are unaware of how Google treats copied content and unknowingly develop duplicate content for their websites. Read ahead for tips on how to develop content that is original and unique.

Who, What, Where, and When

Let us first have a look at an overview of how Google treats duplicate content. It’s important to understand that “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.” — Google

This simply means that you should change duplicate content on your website if it exists. Duplicate content is usually categorized in three segments:

1. Exact Duplicate – Identical content on two URLs.

2. Near Duplicate – Two pieces of content with minor differences.

3. Cross Domain Duplicates – Completely identical content on two or more websites.

A lot of factors contribute to the creation of duplicate content. For instance, some websites license their content for external purposes. Poor interface also leads to duplicate content development. The most common causes of duplicate content are plagiarism and (Content Management System) CMS issues. Each of these issues is addressed in a particular manner.

The Consequences of Duplicate Content

In case you unknowingly posted duplicate content, the search engines will filter the content and rank pages that it believes to be relevant for users. At times they will completely filter the pages with duplicate content from ranking in search results. Users often hunt for diverse and interesting information on the internet, which is the reason why search engines make sure the best content is delivered to users. Duplicate content can certainly cause you problems resulting in several possible consequences, including:

1. Wasted crawls – A search bot visits your website with a certain crawl budget. The crawler budget gets wasted when duplicate content is found. Only the unique pages are crawled and indexed by Google.

2. Wasted link equity – Google does not rank content that isn’t unique. This leads to a waste of link authority.

3. Wrong listing in SERPs – Search algorithms are pretty hard to understand. So when your business has more than one page that has similar content, you cannot determine which ones will rank and which ones will get filtered out. The USPs of your business or something that you wish to highlight may also get filtered by Google.

Tips to Avoid Duplicate Content

Duplicate content isn’t useful to your users or the search engines. With that said, people do not take necessary precautions to avoid duplicate content.

• Use 301 redirects

This approach lets you remove duplicate content from your website. By the time you intend to replace the duplicate content, some pages would have already received some links. It is advisable to get those pages permanently redirected to the relevant URLs. This way the users and especially the search bots will know where to find the new content.

• Block with robot.txt

Another method is to use your robot.txt file to restrain duplicate content/pages from getting crawled. However, Google isn’t very much in favor of this approach. “If search engines can’t crawl pages with duplicate content, they can’t automatically detect that these URLs point to the same content and will therefore effectively have to treat them as separate, unique pages.” – Google.

• Using rel=”canonical”

Using the rel=“canonical” link element helps the search bots distinguish which content is unique and which is duplicate. You can add this link under the page with duplicate content to help the work of the search bots.

Although duplicate content can be a hurdle for you in the SERPs, it isn’t that big of an issue. Until and unless you try to deliberately manipulate SERPs by using deceitful practices, Google won’t take any action against your site. However, certain consequences can result for having duplicate content on your site. Cleaning up the duplicate pieces of content is a beneficial step to take in order to help improve the ranking of your website.

Do you need help identifying thin or duplicate content on your website? Get in touch with one of SEO experts who can help with a plan of action.

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