August 06, 2015

Duplicate Content for SEO

As a digital marketer, wether you focus on content or technical SEO, you want your site to be as visible as possible. You want page views, visitors, and ultimately customers… right? You probably already have a solid SEO foundation in place for increasing your search visibility through both focus level and longtail search terms that are consistently driving traffic to your brand.

What you might not realize is that duplicate content could be hurting your SEO rankings, thus reducing your site’s visibility and even costing you business in the long run.

What is Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content. The term itself is pretty self explanatory. It refers to content that’s similar to other content already published on the internet. There are two types of duplicate content: onsite and offsite.

Onsite Duplicate Content

Onsite duplicate content refers to content that’s the same from one page of your site to the next. For example, perhaps you have a legal disclaimer at the bottom of every page of your website (or even just a few select pages). This would all be flagged as duplicate content by the search engines. This specific example won’t really hurt your overall SEO, but you get the picture.

Onsite duplicate content is the most problematic when it comes to your search engine rankings, you’re ultimately competing against yourself. Rather than publishing two similar pieces, it might be better if you just made one, in-depth piece of content instead.

Offsite Duplicate Content

Offsite duplicate content, on the other hand, can also be detrimental to your site. Specifically, offsite duplicate content refers to content on your site that’s similar to content found on another site. This could include anything from sentences that are exactly the same word-for-word to whole paragraphs that contain similar content (even if it’s not word-for-word).

This can be particularly damaging when similar or duplicate content found on another site has a higher domain or page authority than you.

Examples of Duplicate Content

Duplicate content can manifest itself in many forms. However, some specifically common ones to be on the lookout for within your own site include:

  • Ingredient lists (for recipes)
  • title tags
  • Product descriptions
  • Automatically generated text
  • Content that’s copy-pasted from other sites

Now, keep in mind that these are just some examples; you might have other sources of duplicate content on your site, and that’ll be on you to find it and make changes as needed.

How Can Duplicate Content Affect You?

With all this talk about duplicate content, you might well be wondering, “why the hell does this matter?” or “so what if I have duplicate content on my site?” And the answer to those questions is that it can matter a lot, and in many different ways. Perhaps the biggest potential problem with duplicate content is that it can negatively impact your search engine rankings. Specifically, when you have pages with the same content on your site, the search engine algorithms won’t display them all. Instead, they will make a “best guess” as to which page with duplicate content should be used in the search engine results and go from there. And as we mentioned above, the site with the higher domain or page authority will typically win this guessing game.

The problem with this is that it could mean your site visitors aren’t being brought to the right page, or they may see the search engine content as irrelevant and decide not to click on the link at all. So believe it or not, duplicate content could really have a negative impact on your visitors.

How to Avoid Duplicate Content

How to Avoid Duplicate Content

Fortunately, if you’re dealing with duplicate content on your website, there are some steps you can take to address and overcome the problem. Specifically, start by checking the title tags on each of your website’s pages to ensure that they’re all unique. You can use the Screaming Frog SEO Spider to download a full list of pages with titles, meta descriptions, etc. Furthermore, don’t forget to go into Google Search Console and check the HTML Improvements section for duplicates.

Another way to address duplicate content on your site is to check your landing page content; make sure it’s as unique and original as you can make it. Copyscape is an easy way to check the uniqueness of your page content, as it crawls the web for similar content.

Duplicate content can be very tricky when it comes to eCommerce sites with product descriptions and bulleted lists. Even if you’re getting your information from other sources (and citing it, of course), you need to write and present it in a way that’s never been done before. This way, your content won’t be recognized and duplicate and you’ll be in a better situation when it comes to your search engine optimization.

Now that you have a better understanding of duplicate content and how it can affect your website, now is a good time to check your own site for its existence. From there, you can enjoy better SEO results and increased visibility!

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