Search Engine Optimization and Duplicate Content

Posted: May 13, 2012

Avoid duplicate content on your website at all costs or risk being heavily penalized by search engines like Google, or even blacklisted and completely removed from the search engine’s index. This means don’t copy content from another website and put it on your own and try to avoid putting the exact same content on multiple pages on your website.

Check If You Have Duplicate Content

You can check to see if your site has duplicate content by entering a page from your site into Copyscape. Copyscape will analyze the text on your page and search its index to determine if there is a match with any other websites. If there is, you should edit and change the copied content immediately.

The only exception is if the content copied from your site and you are certain you were the original writer. If you have a popular website that is a resource of information for a particular topic, you will often come across content that has been 100% copied from your site. A suggestion is to contact the site’s operator by email and kindly request they change their text and even mention that it is affecting the site’s performance in the search engines.

Common Pitfalls of Duplicate Content

Common duplicate content issues include:

  1. Multiple domains with the exact same site. This will almost certainly get your site blacklisted. Often this occurs when a second domain is purchased and that domain is not properly 301 redirected to the main domain, so the same website ends up loading on 2 domains. This can be fixed by simply 301 redirecting one domain to the other.
  2. Blogs that post the entire post on their homepageas well as on a unique URL. This is quite common and is not wrong, however it’s useful to include the canonical link on the post URL like the following:
  3.  Ecommerce sites often sell the exact same products as competitor sites and have the exact same description of the items for sale. This can also be a problem in how the site is developed as product description can appear on pages that list products by category, by price, by rating, etc. Avoid these issues by writing unique product descriptions and using canonical link tags.
  4. Print pages with the same content is a duplication of text on your website. Use a meta tag on the print page that prevents the search engine robots from indexing the page, such as this:
  5. Mobile sites with the same content as the main site can be a concern for search engines looking at duplicate content. Use the canonical link tag for specifying the main URL for the posted content.
  6. www vs. non-www URLs give the search engines the impression that each is a different site. For example, www.domain.com loads the same content as just domain.com. Simply 301 redirect non-www traffic to the www version of the URL.

These are the most common areas of duplicate content that I come across, however there are more. With a good website structure and close attention to what is being written for your website, the benefits of avoiding duplicate content will result in solid results in the search engines.

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