Duplicate content is content that appears in more than one place on the internet.
Because duplicate content appears “plagiarized” by another source, Google and other search engines can penalize you for doing this.
While duplicate content is usually not created intentionally, it can be triggered by:
- A large amount of content you copy and paste from another domain
- A small amount of content you copy and paste from another domain that is not properly cited with a hyperlink
- Content you put on your website from a vendor without changing the words in any way, even if you have explicit permission to use it
- Content you copy/paste from one domain that you own to another—search engines do not understand that you are the owner of both domains and therefore assume that one is plagiarizing the other
Within a single domain, some repetitive content is to be expected and is not considered “plagiarized,”—however, it is best practice to ensure that no more than 30% of your content on any given page was pulled from another page that already exists. That’s because search engines do not want to promote people creating duplicates of content just to “game” search engines.
When a search engine indexes your content and comes across duplicate words, it might become confused as to which version is the better result to display to its users.
Further, when other sites want to link to your content, different sites may link to different duplicates, which can impact the ranking of your content. If there is only one version of the content, all links will point to the same landing page, improving its visibility.
How do I avoid duplicate content?
Minimize similar content. If there are multiple pages with identical content on your site, find ways to consolidate or differentiate the content. For example, there might be multiple products with the same description on your site. Can they be consolidated to one page? If not, make sure each of their descriptions is unique to the product being described.
Rewrite the content. If you would like to reuse a large amount of content on multiple pages or across multiple domains, ensure that each of these paragraphs is rewritten semantically each time. (Yes, we have had to do this 50+ times in instances of franchise websites.) While the page can deliver the same message to the user, it should use different words every time. A thesaurus will be your best friend in this effort. And it’s not just synonyms, either. Your sentence structures should be different, too.
Be aware of your content management system to avoid having the same content available at multiple URLs. For example, make sure that the homepage of your blog content only lists excerpts, and doesn’t show whole blog posts. If a whole blog post appears on both the home page and its own page, it is duplicate content.
Be consistent with internal links. This can be as simple as making sure to always include the “www” when writing links to your pages, or excluding it, as long as it remains consistent. Rather than feeling the need to repeat large amounts of content on multiple pages, prioritize linking to the relevant content instead.
How do I check for duplicate content?
While there are a few online tools you can use to check for duplicate content on your site, an easy method is to use Google search operators.
You can type “site: yoursite.com intitle: Keyword” and Google will show all the pages on your site that contain that keyword in the title. The more specific you make the keyword phrase, the quicker you will discover duplicate content. For example, we would search “site:liftedlogic.com web design in kansas city” to see how many pages that keyphrase appears across multiple pages.
How do I resolve duplicate content?
Resolving duplicate content is about specifying which version of the content is the correct one, so search engines know which page to recommend to users.
Here are three strategies for resolving duplicate content issues:
Set up 301 redirects from the duplicate pages to the original page. This will prevent the pages from competing with each other and improve the ranking of the original page.
Use the canonical link element. Adding the rel=canonical element to duplicate URLs can also provide a redirect back to the original page. The element gets added to the heading of the page you want redirected. It would read like
<link rel=canonical href: yoursite.com/original_content_page />
Add a link to the original content in any pages that duplicate it. This method works if you don’t have access to the header of the page you are trying to redirect from, and if Google sees repeated links, it can better determine which one is the original.
Need assistance with making your content unique? You don’t have to do the heavy lifting alone. Contact us and our experienced SEO copywriters can help!