Duplicate Content and SEO: The Ultimate Guide – How To Find And Fix It

A thorough ongoing SEO strategy requires a lot of work, although some aspects are more well-understood than others.

For instance, everyone is aware of the significance of keyword research. Even beginners are aware of the basic benefits of having a blog with excellent content and a strong portfolio of backlinks.

However, duplicate content is a very different issue. While everyone is aware that duplicate content is bad, not everyone is aware of how it affects SEO or what to do when they see it.

Whether duplicate content on a website is unintentional or the consequence of text blocks being copied from your web pages, it needs to be addressed and handled properly.

No matter if you are in charge of a website for a small company or a big organization, duplicate content can harm SEO results on any website.

Everything you need to know to make sense of things and stay ahead of the curve will be covered here.

Identifying duplicate content, determining whether it affects you internally or across other domains, and managing duplicate content issues effectively are all covered in this article.

Duplicate Content

What Is Duplicate Content?

Similar or identical content that appears in multiple locations on the internet is what is often meant by the term duplicate content.

Duplicate content includes content that has been published on more than one website or online platform, such as a blog post that was circulated by the author to reach a wider audience.

However, individual websites can also experience internal issues with duplicate content, such as the occurrence of the same paragraphs of page copy on numerous related (but ultimately distinct) service pages. Duplicate content can occur accidentally or on purpose in any situation.

Duplicate content, when interpreted strictly, refers to content that appears on several pages of your own website as well as on websites that are not your own.

In a broad sense, duplicate content is any content that offers your users little to no value. Pages with little or no body content are therefore also regarded as having duplicate content.

Blocks of content that are totally identical to one another (exact copies) or strikingly similar to one another (common or near-duplicates) are referred to as duplicate content. Two bits of content are said to be almost identical if they only differ slightly.

Of course, it’s normal and occasionally unavoidable to have some content in common (i.e., quoting another article on the internet).

What Causes Duplicate Content to Be Bad for SEO?

For the following reasons, duplicate content is bad:

It can be challenging for search engines to choose which version of a piece of content to index and display in search results when there are numerous accessible. Due to the competition between the copies of the content, this reduces performance for all of them.

When other websites link to multiple versions of the same piece of content, search engines will have a difficult time combining link metrics (authority, relevancy, and trust) for that content.

Google does not formally penalize websites for duplicate content. It does, however, filter identical content, which has the same effect as a penalty: your web sites lose rankings.

Google is confused with duplicate content, therefore it must decide which of the similar pages to place in the top results. No matter who created the content, there is a good chance that the original page won’t appear in the top search results.

This is merely one of many factors that duplicate content harms SEO. Here are some further, clear arguments against duplicate content.

Google explicitly advises avoiding producing duplicate content, but it also assures customers that doing so won’t necessarily jeopardize their well-earned search engine results.

In general, Google’s algorithm is good at determining which website, out of many with the same or comparable content, should really rank.

But there are flaws in this arrangement. Search engines can become confused by too much duplicate content on a website (or the internet in general), and occasionally the incorrect page will outrank the correct one.

Because of this, SERP results may not be as accurate as they need to be, which may irritate consumers, reduce traffic, and increase bounce rates.

Additionally, crawl bots visit each website for a certain period of time. The bots may waste time on a site with too much duplicate content, which may prevent your finest content from getting indexed.

Internal Duplicate Content Issues

Internal duplicate content problems arise within a single website, such as an online store or a large informational website. They can occasionally result from deliberate content reuse, although they frequently happen by accident.

To be mindful of, consider the following typical examples.

Product Descriptions

It can be extremely difficult to come up with hundreds, if not thousands, of distinctive descriptions for things that are frequently very similar to one another.

The temptation to rehash specific passages from page to page (or rely solely on manufacturer’s descriptions) is rather strong because it takes a lot of time.

However, originality is essential if you’re serious about appearing in direct search results for any of the things you stock, particularly if numerous other websites are offering the identical products.

Of course, keep in mind the most effective ways to write product descriptions.

Since it can take a lot of time to write original descriptions for each product on a website, it makes sense that developing distinctive product descriptions is difficult for many eCommerce organizations.

You must set your product page for the Rickenbacker 4003 apart from all the other websites selling that product, though, if you want to rank for “Rickenbacker 4003 Electric Bass Guitar.”

On Page Elements

Make sure the following are on each page of your site to prevent difficulties with duplicate content:

A distinct page title and meta description that stand out from other pages on your website in the HTML code of the page headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.)

A page’s content is mostly made up of the page title, meta description, and headings. It’s safer to steer clear of the murky waters of duplicate content as much as you can. Additionally, it’s a great technique to make your meta descriptions valuable to search engines.

If you have too many pages and can’t come up with a unique meta description for each one, then skip it. In the majority of cases, Google uses snippets from your content as the meta description. Even yet, it is still preferable to provide a unique meta description since it is crucial for increasing click-throughs.

If you have other resellers that sell your products or if you sell your products through third-party store websites, make sure to provide each source its own description.

Check read our article on how to write a fantastic product description page if you want your page to perform better than the competition’s.

Ideally, product variables like size or color shouldn’t have their own pages. Use web design components to keep all product variations on a single page.

Meta Elements

Although the majority of website owners are aware that duplicate content should not appear on several pages, many end up forgetting about extra on-page features and metadata.

Your website’s pages should each have their own distinct page title and meta data.

Additionally, you should be careful to avoid using the same headlines on different pages. In the end, items like these don’t make up a lot of the page’s actual content, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Issues With URLs

The potential for variations on a certain URL is another highly frequent offender when it comes to internal issues with duplicate content.

Examples of how such problems could appear on your website include:

  • differences between versions that terminate with a trailing slash
  • variations with the http and https protocol
  • variations with and without the prefix www

Which choice you choose is completely up to you; there are no known SEO advantages to selecting one over the other. However, consistency is important if you want to prevent SEO problems.

It might also cause issues with appropriate indexing if your website employs URL parameters to generate page variations for goods that come in various sizes or colors (to mention just two possibilities).

Internal duplicate content around URLs that contain the following is frequently disregarded:

  • www (http://www.example.com) and without www (http://example.com)
  • http (http://www.example.com) and https (https://www.example.com)
  • a trailing slash at the end of a URL (http://www.example.com/) and without a trailing slash (http://www.example.com)

Take a passage of unique language from one of your most valuable landing pages, enclose it in quotation marks, and perform a fast Google search to check for these problems. The exact text string will then be searched for by Google.

You will need to investigate carefully to understand why more than one page appears in the search results by first considering the likelihood of the three possibilities mentioned above.

You must set up a 301 redirect from the non-preferred version to the preferred one if you discover that your website uses conflicting www vs. non-www or trailing slashes vs. non-trailing slashes.

Notably, whether or not you use www or the trailing / in your URLs has no SEO benefit. Personal taste is what matters.

URL Parameters

Despite not being specific to eCommerce, URL parameters are another major cause of duplicate content on websites.

The usage of URL parameters by some websites to generate unique page URLs (such as?sku=5136840, &primary-color=blue, &sort=popular) may cause search engines to index many URL variations, including the parameters.

Check out Portent CEO Ian Lurie’s article, The Duplication Toilet Bowl of Death, on URL parameter duplication if your website employs them.

External Duplicate Content Issues 

Undoubtedly, not all issues with duplicate content are internal. Any website or content creator with a significant body of valuable original content will almost certainly have some of it republished at some point, either with or without permission.

There is a considerable probability that your valuable content will be reposted on another website if you have a sizable amount of it. Even while it may be flattering, you will have to do without it. The various ways that duplicate content happens externally are as follows:

Here are a few instances of external duplicate content that you should be aware of.

By Appropriate: Syndicated Posts

Every content content will occasionally encounter opportunities to syndicate (or republish) their writing with another magazine or website.

When a piece of content that most likely first appeared on your blog gets published on another website, this practice is known as content syndication. It differs from having your content scraped because you gave permission for it to be shared on another website.

As absurd as it may appear, syndicating your content has advantages. It increases the visibility of your content, which may increase website traffic. In other words, you exchange links back to your website for content and perhaps search engine rankings.

This is something you can choose to do on your own, such choosing to repost a well-liked piece (or a section of it) to a secondary blog on a website like Medium or Quora.

The alternative is that you can get inquiries from publications from outside sources requesting to syndicate your content.

Syndication might actually benefit you even if it can seem like a terrible idea if you’re attempting to avoid duplicate content. Backlinks to your website can drive additional traffic to it in addition to increasing your visibility and that of your business.

Unauthorized Content: Scraped

Unfortunately, the majority of brands and content producers will eventually become familiar with content scrapers.

Scraped content is created when a different website owner or content content decides to take your work and repost it without your consent.

Scraped content is when a website owner takes content from another website in an effort to improve their site’s natural prominence. Content scrapers may sometimes try to have software “rewrite” the content they have already taken.

When scrapers don’t bother to update branded terms throughout the content, it might occasionally be simple to spot scraped content.

Although the thief is obviously trying to increase the visibility of their own site, this strategy frequently backfires.

To start, scraped content is typically extremely simple to recognize. For intentionally attempting to manipulate Google’s algorithm and search ranks in this manner, there are also severe penalties.

If you do discover that you have been the victim of content scraping, you should notify Google as quickly as you can.

In order to determine whether a page complies with Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines, a human reviewer at Google will examine the website.

If your website is reported for attempting to manipulate Google’s search index, you will either find that its ranking has been drastically reduced or that it has been completely eliminated from the search results.

You should let Google know if you’ve been the victim of scraped content by filing a webspam report under the “Copyright and other legal issues” heading.

Methods for Finding Duplicate Content

Again, even though duplicate content won’t necessarily make or break your SEO effort, you should keep an eye on it to prevent any potential problems.

This is true for duplicates-related internal and external issues. Here are some important advice for handling both.

1. Include a check for duplicate content in your SEO assessment.

It’s time to start frequently assessing your website for any SEO problems if you haven’t already. Additionally, if you currently perform it, be sure to include a duplicate content check in your regular routine.

There are several ways to scan your website for duplicate or nearly duplicate content, but there are also programs that do a lot of the legwork and guessing for you.

For instance, Copyscape’s Siteliner tool swiftly does this task and presents your findings in a style that makes issues obvious at a look.

2. Try using Google’s exact match search feature.

Additionally, you should frequently search the web for unapproved copies of your content. You can accomplish this by conducting an exact match search on Google.

Go to the page you want to check out specifically. Copy a few lines, then paste them into Google with quote marks around them.  Take a few passages from one of your web pages, enclose them in quote marks, then Google them.

You can instruct Google to return results that contain only the specified text by enclosing it in quotation marks. If more than one result appears, your content has been plagiarized.

This instructs Google to only display results that include that specific text. Therefore, if anything occurs, you’ve got a content scraper or plagiarist on your hands.

3. Use Copyscape to check your content

If you’re serious about staying on top of duplicate content issues, Copyscape is another useful tool to keep in your back pocket.

A free program called Copyscape scans the text of your website for duplicate content that has been detected on other domains. If your page’s text has been scraped, the offending URL will appear in the search results.

A portion of text from one of your pages can be scanned using Copyscape to see if there are any copies elsewhere online, just like with Google exact match searches.

If you are certain that your content has been intentionally scraped or otherwise plagiarized, the best course of action is to inform Google of the problem by submitting a complaint.

If you’re unsure, you can also get in touch with the site’s owner directly because they could not be aware that they’ve published pirated content.

You can think about letting the site owner to leave the content up if they also include a hyperlink to your website if the website has a high level of authority or quality.

Additionally, make regular use of tools like Copyscape to ensure that any scrapers are quickly dealt with. The less of an effect a prospective issue may have on your SEO, the sooner you can address it.

Wrap up

There is no such thing as “too comprehensive” when it comes to SEO, even though primary keywords, backlinks, efficient website optimization, and so forth will always be the most important considerations.

One great strategy to bolster your efforts is to stay on top of any duplicate content problems, but it’s not the only one.

You didn’t put in the effort to create original content to have someone steal it and outrank you in the search results, let’s face it.

Even though the growing issue of duplicate content can seem daunting and will probably take a lot of time to manage, the effort will be well worth the return on investment.

You will raise your ranks and deter scrapers, thieves, and inexperienced beginners if you heed the suggestions provided and take duplicate content management seriously.

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