Content counts. The words on your site send a message to new visitors and returning customers alike, communicating who you are and why you’re worth an investment of time, energy, and money. However, there are a few large cardinal sins in the creation of compelling content, and among the most important involves avoiding duplicate content at all costs, whether copying content across pages on your own site or borrowing a few words from someone else. Here’s why Google hates duplicate content and what you can do about it.
What Is Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content refers to any content that appears more than once around the web. In the eyes of search engines like Google, duplicate content can exist on multiple independent websites or two or more times across the same website.
Why Does Duplicate Content Matter?
Duplicate content raises a number of important issues from both a search engine and a site owner perspective.
From the perspective of Google, duplicate content presents quite a conundrum as there is often no way to determine which content is the original source and thus which pages should be included or excluded from an index, as well as which versions to include in search results. In addition, the same content in different places can make it challenging when applying direct link metrics.
For site owners, duplicate content offers similar problems, including the potential of having a page excluded from rankings entirely. Search engines rarely show more than one version of the same text, so duplicate content across your site creates problems with visibility and competitive advantage. This can dilute link equity as well, forcing those linking to your content to choose between various available pages.
The Causes of Duplicate Content
You may be saying to yourself, “I don’t need this article; there’s no duplicate content on my site.” But is this actually true? Most site owners struggling with duplicate content didn’t create these situations intentionally, and many may be unaware of duplicate content issues. This is largely because duplicate content arises inadvertently, through tactics like:
- URL variations derived through parameters like click tracking, the use of session IDs, or even printer-friendly versions
- HTTP vs. HTTPS page types
- Copied content, like manufacturer information on product pages
Your website may truly be free of duplicate content, but it also may not. If you use any of these tactics, it’s worth taking a second look.
Addressing the Issue of Duplicate Content
So, you have duplicate content on your site. Now what?
Luckily, there are ways around most instances of duplicate content, including:
- A 301 redirect to your original page, highlighting to search engines what to rank and ensuring visitors end up in the right place
- The “rel=canonical” attribute that indicates to search engines that a particular page is essentially a copy of another parent page
- Meta noindex, is a meta tag that instructs search engines to ignore a page for ranking purposes
- Setting appropriate search domain and parameter handling using the Google Search Console
- Utilizing consistency in internal links
- Taking care to create fresh, authentic content for things like product descriptions
How you ultimately handle duplicate content will largely depend on the source of duplicate content and your preferred back-end techniques for handling problematic URLs. However, with a little attention to detail and a solid strategy, it’s easy to make sure copied content doesn’t stand in your way. Want to be sure your site is up to par? Contact RivalMind today and let us help you with a marketing strategy for success.