Duplicate Content exists everywhere. And you cannot avoid it either. After all, we do encounter this type of Duplicate content in the Real world as well. 🙂
In the digital world, 29% of all pages on the Internet have duplicate content, a study by raventools.com revealed. It’s all part of maintaining a digital presence. But search geeks and SEOs are never happy with it. In fact, they might be the biggest force against duplicate content.
So what’s the big deal about duplicate content?
In order to understand that, we’ll have to go to the beginning. What is duplicate content?
Moz explains it best.
“Duplicate content is content that appears on the Internet in more than one place.”
In other words, the same content is available on multiple locations, whether that’s on or off your website.
The important question is:
Why do duplicate content issues occur in the first place?
1. Similar products
To a certain extent, duplicate content is expected. For instance, the internal content of ecommerce sites is often repeated. It could be in the form of CTAs present on each page or similar merchandise listed in different categories.
But the same issue can arise if the same item is on the manufacturer’s websites and e-commerce website. Product descriptions can be identical, the result being the same content winding up on multiple sites.
2. Technical issues
For the most part, duplicate content can simply be due to a technical mistake that occurred while setting up the website or webpage. The same content had more than one web address.
For example, there may be URL variations, possibly due to the order of parameters that appear in the URL. www.widgets.com/blue-widgets is a duplicate of www.widgets.com/blue-widgets?cat=3&color=blue.
The scenario could also arise when different session IDs are assigned to each user that visits a website.
Or even when printer-friendly versions of the pages get indexed.
You could also end up with duplicate content if your website could be available on both www and non-www or HTTP and HTTPS. Having separate live versions means you have the same content on both. And since all the content will be visible to search engines, you will face duplicate content issues.
3. Intentional scraped or copied content
But besides human error, there could be scraped or copied content as well. Scrapers republish content from other sites on their own one. The ever-growing demand for content may be the cause of the amount of duplicate content available on the internet.
From patchwriting to cut-and-paste techniques, rewriting and reusing content from other sites is quite common. So it’s hard to know how much stolen copy is on the web.
Does duplicate content matter?
Like I mentioned above, some duplication is to be expected. In ecommerce sites, it’s considered almost natural. However, search engines are not particularly fond of repetitive or duplicate content. And neither are your customers.
Be careful not to fall into the rut of saying the same thing over and over again on different pages, or simply changing a few words here and there. If all the content appears the same to users, they will not find much value on your website. The result- they will abandon your site and head over to one (possibly your competitors) that offers a better online experience.
But if managed appropriately, you can create content so that it does not hurt your SEO campaign. The same can be said about trending topics that a lot of writers are writing about. As long as the content is original and offers value, commonly used and repeated phrases are acceptable.
Unfortunately, the technical mistakes you make can lower your ranking, even if Google does not penalize them.
When similar content is found in more than one location, Google cannot list all of them. Moreover, it does not know which ones to include or exclude. So it mentions the one that it thinks answers the search query the best.
However, the greatest issue arises regarding the SEO metrics, such as site authority, anchor text, and link equity. Will they be associated with a single page or are they across multiple versions?
And this has negative repercussions for site owners. When search engines choose a version of the content, the ones that are not selected lose visibility and traffic. And the same applies to link equity. The chosen version receives all the inbound links. And since this is an important ranking factor, it can impact visibility and SEO.
Of all the types of duplicate content, copied or rehashed content can cause the most trouble. Websites that have low-quality or thin content are replaced by higher-quality ones in search rankings.
So how does Google deal with different versions of content? It finds the oldest version and displays it on SERPs. All other versions are positioned lower in the list, or worse, you are directed to link at the end of the search where you can see the omitted results.
As you have probably already figured out by now, investing the time and effort to create original content and product descriptions can offer both short-term and long-term benefits.
How can you avoid duplicate content?
1. Be original
For starters, you need to focus on creating original blogs that are unique, offer value to readers, and are engaging. And for website owners that sell products, they should refrain from copying product descriptions from manufacturer’s websites. An easy way to create unique content is to utilize user-generated content, which not only attracts more potential customers but improves your marketing strategy.
2. Practice consistency
A majority of duplicate content is created due to inconsistent URLs or links. Consider the following:
- Canonicalize URLs- Convert data into a standard and approved format with the help of canonical tags.
- Use noindex meta tags- This stops search engines from automatically forming indices of duplicate content pages.
- Give due credit to content- Whether it’s yours or someone else’s, the use of canonical URLs ensures the original content receives due recognition.
3. Utilize 301 redirects
Readers are redirected from a non-preferred URL to a preferred one, thereby reducing the impact of duplicate content issues.
Duplicate and repetitive content tarnish your online image. It shows visitors that you haven’t made an effort to enhance CX. In some cases, users label sites that have too much duplicate content as fraudulent. Consumers may even begin to doubt the service and credibility of your business.
So the last thing you need after working day and night to get your business up and running is to carelessly upload content that ruins your brand image. Whether it’s your blog or a series of product descriptions, take the time and effort to ensure that you craft creative, useful content and avoid the technical mistakes mentioned above.