Duplicate Content: What Is It and How Can It Hurt Your SEO?
You might think that since you’ve never plagiarized, your site won’t suffer. But the issue is not that simple, in most cases, the creation of repeated content does not occur voluntarily. According to MOZ , 29% of the entire internet is made up of duplicate content. Given this large share, see what Google’s considerations are on the subject and eliminate the risk of being penalized once and for all.
What is duplicate content?
Content is considered to be duplicated when it is present, in an entirely the same or very similar way, within the same domain or on two different sites. When displayed, it can lead to punishments, some more severe than others, but which can be important in the visibility of your site.
Entrepreneurs and many marketers who work with organic rankings may be spreading duplicate content without even knowing it. This is due to several factors generated by the CMS itself, such as WordPress. And even though it’s not subject to punishment, it limits SEO performance. Below we will see all the most common cases and show you how to fix them in order to benefit the visibility of your website.
What situations are considered duplicate content?
The copied content is linked to the plagiarism of all content (or almost all) of a player in the market. This is the most harmful case to the user, according to Google’s actions. However, usually the occurrences are simpler. They occur due to some technical issues that we will see next.
Websites with two prefixes
Both the prefixes “Https” and “www” and the absence of them can be responsible for indexing the same content twice. That is, if a site has a landing page that is, for search engines, findable with more than one prefix, it is considered repeated content.
URLs with the same content
This problem is very common in online stores, however it occurs in all types of websites. It basically defines itself as the same landing page reached by different paths, see the example below.
Repeated Meta Tags
Meta titles or descriptions can appear on more than one page identically. For Google’s search bots, cases like this can be considered duplicate content. Consequently, from the moment the search bots find them, the site in question can and become less visible to users.
How Does Duplicate Content Hurt Your SEO?
The problem of duplicate content raises a lot of questions among digital marketers. Most of the time, it occurs for a technical reason rather than copied content. Therefore, Google considers both the most common situations and cases of attempted manipulation of the search algorithm differently.
But how does repetition of content hurt SEO? Is your site punishable?
Promoting the best user experience is Google’s main objective, so it seeks to present the most relevant results for each search. So, when there is repeated content, indexing becomes more confusing and positioning more difficult. Therefore, presenting a clearer code to search robots can influence metrics such as relevance and authority.
The time the content is published counts a lot in search engine rankings. However, other factors also contribute to SEO improvements and the replay fix is one of them. However, keeping it on your site does not mean that your site will be punished. You will only be subject to penalties when the engines perceive duplicate content as a Black Hat practice .
When the intention of a professional is to deceive search engines, copying all (or almost) the content of competitors is common. However, the site that performs these acts will constantly be at risk of harming both the page’s indexing and the authority of the entire domain, after all, Google generally knows which site published the content first.
How to fix duplicate content?
Now that you know the definition and influence of duplicate content for search engines, it’s time to start making improvements to your site. From now on, we will detail the most appropriate ways to tell Google which page to index.
Do 301 Redirect
This method is mainly used by users who want to change the domain without completely losing the authority of the old one. Basically, it consists of telling search engines which page should be indexed. So doing the 301 redirect means that a URL with duplicate content will always be redirected to the main one.
You can do this simply through your server, specifically in the .htaccess file. But, in case you don’t have the necessary knowledge in programming, the WordPress “SEO Redirection” plugin does this work in a practical way. See the images below.
Insert Canonical Tags
Canonical Tags provide the same benefit as redirection, but in a different and more practical way. They can be inserted into the HTML code of each page and instead of eliminating duplicate content, they inform search robots that the authority should be redirected to just one page.
Use the tag “no index, follow”
Unlike the previous two, the “no index, follow” tag does not pass on authority. Once you add this tag to your page, Google will recognize it as duplicate content, but will not index it.
Place links to the original article
If it is interesting to copy an article, news or simply make a summary on your website, placing the original link at the bottom of the page will make the search engines understand what the purpose is. Beware, if this is not done, it may diagnose it as a Black Hat practice.
Use Google Search Console
Through this free tool, made available by Google, you can fix duplication issues. It proves to be extremely useful, both to check if there are any repeated meta tags and to correctly target the “https” or “www” prefixes.
Monitor your content
Writing original and unique content is the best way to differentiate yourself from your competitors and thus avoid any problems of repetition. However, with so much information present on the internet, creating something totally new becomes a challenging task.
With that in mind, we brought two tips, in addition to those already mentioned, to monitor your content.
- Do a Google search: It seems so obvious that most digital marketers forget. By writing in the search bar, an excerpt of the text between quotation marks, you will know how your content is similar to that of other sites;
- Use Copyscape: With the same intention of using Google itself, Copyscape is a tool that analyzes duplicate content in a more professional way. To use it, just insert the link of the page you want to check. It has a free and a paid version.
Once duplicate content is reported, it is imperative to correct it. Now you know step-by-step how to bring best practices on this subject to your website. And if your content happens to be plagiarized, you can report it to Google through Search Console itself, or simply get in touch and ask the competitor to redirect the authority to your link.