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Why is Having Duplicate Content an Issue for SEO?

What are Some Common Beginner Mistakes in Content Marketing

Duplicate content is a common problem for websites, and it can have a negative impact on search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. When search engines crawl the web, they use algorithms to determine the relevance and authority of a website.

If a search engine encounters multiple versions of the same content, it can be difficult to determine which version is the original, and which versions should be indexed and ranked. This can lead to a number of issues, including lower search engine rankings, traffic loss, and potential penalties.

So, how does it happen? Why is having duplicate content an issue for SEO? And is there any way to fix it?

In this article, we will explore the reasons why duplicate content is an issue for SEO and discuss some strategies for identifying and resolving duplicate content on your website.

Let’s begin:

What is Duplicate Content?

As the name implies, you certainly have got a basic idea about duplicate content. It is more or less the same as other content available on the internet. They can be a piece of content already posted to over one website or online platform, a blog post, for example.

It can be anything ranging from a product description to the entire webpage, appearing at numerous locations on the site. And it can be either intentional or unintentional.

Though having duplicate content is not technically a penalty, it plays a negative role in your search engine rankings. For instance, search engines can’t decide which is more relevant, relating to the search query.

What are the Types of Duplicate Content?

There are two kinds of duplicate content available on varied domains. They are as follows: 

Internal Duplicate Content

Internal duplicate content is the kind of content a user generates using varied internal URLs available on the same site. Examples of internal duplicate content include product descriptions, meta elements, URL-related issues, etc.

External Duplicate Content

Also known as cross-domain duplicates, external duplicate content happens when more than one domain has an identical webpage copy already analyzed and indexed by Google or other search engines. 

Syndicated posts (with permission) and scraped content (without permission) are some of the common instances of external duplicate content.

Why is Having Duplicate Content an Issue for SEO?

Below are some issues that might happen due to duplicate content:

1. Lower Search Engine Rankings:

Search engines may have difficulty determining which version of duplicate content is the original, and may therefore choose to not rank any of the duplicates. It also wastes the crawl budget of search engines by having them crawl multiple versions of the same content.

2. Traffic Loss:

If search engines are unable to determine which version of the content to index and rank, it can lead to a loss of traffic to the website.

3. Potential Penalties:

Search engines may penalize websites that have a significant amount of duplicate content, which can further hurt search engine rankings and traffic. Duplicate content confuses search engines about the content relevance and value of the website.

4. Decrease in User Engagement:

As the user may face multiple versions of the same content, they could eventually leave the website, lowering user engagement.

5. Decrease Brand Reputation:

Duplicate content may cause Brand dilution, as the duplicate content may appear on other websites and confuse users about the authenticity of the content and the website.

6. Lack of Control Over the Content

Duplicate content may be indexed and appear in the search engine results instead of the original content. It lacks control over the content of the author or business.

How Does Duplication Content Occur on a Site?

There are several reasons why content duplication might occur on your website. You will never get a good rank in response to a query. After all, search engine crawlers always like and refer to new, original, and relevant copies over duplicated copies.

Have a look at the below scenarios due to which duplicate content can happen on a website:

Varied Versions of the Site

Most of the websites have “www” as part of their address, while some doesnt have. Hence, if your website has a different version and the same kind of content on both, know that you have duplicated each webpage. 

The same thing goes for both websites with http:// and https://. It mostly happens after the site’s redesign or while transferring from a non-protected to a more protected version of the website.

URL Variations

This problem happens when the parameters are in the same order as in another URL. Besides, printer-friendly forms of content can be another reason for content duplication issues. 

Such as indexing numerous versions of the web pages. To fix this problem, you must avoid including URL parameters or substitute versions at all costs.

Comment Pagination

Nowadays, many systems offer a choice to paginate the comments. This act might lead to duplicating the contents across the web address if not done properly.

Trailing vs. Non-trailing Slashes

Both the URLs with and without are unique traits in the eyes of Google. Hence, if your copy is accessible on the web address with and without the trailing slashes, it will indicate that you have content duplication problems.

Localization

In case your website has the same kind of content in varied places, it will eventually refer to content duplication. Having various website versions in 3 different states with negligible distinction will result in a near duplicate copy.

How to Check for the Duplicate Content?

If your site is full of heavy content pages, but you are still experiencing a noteworthy decrease in your SEO rankings, understand it’s high time you check your content. 

Here is a list of some of the few ways to check for duplicate content:

Add a Duplicate Content Check to Your SEO Audit

You must regularly audit your site for potential SEO issues. If you are not regularly doing it, note that it’s now time to start it. However, if you are already doing it, add a duplicate content check to your daily work routine. Such as, Copyscape’s Siteline tool gives a rapid outcome and displays the outcomes in such a way that makes it super easy to detect the issues at a glance. 

Run an Exact Match Search on Google

Copy some of the text from any of the pages of your website. Now place it in quotation marks. Next up, Google will check your content to see if it creates any outputs.

If there is any similar phrase, Google will instantly display the output containing it upon searching the query under the quotation mark. If the query brings up different search results, it will mean that your copy has plagiarism and has been used on numerous online platforms.

Use Plagiarism Checking Tools

Nowadays, there are several free and paid plagiarism-checking tools available on Google. Some of the useful tools include Grammarly premium, Copy Scape, Duplichecker, etc. Though they cost you a few bucks, they can efficiently check duplicate content.

How to Fix Duplicate Content Issues?

In the end, it just doesn’t matter how you have got the duplicate content. Instead, the essential thing is how to fix it.

But for that, you must specify which version is the duplicate and which is the original. Once sorted, you can apply the following solutions to fix the issues:

Use Canonical and Hreflang Attributes 

Adding a canonical tag to the HTML head of the duplicate pages helps the search engines to know they are the original versions. As a result, canonicalization instructs the search engines to credit all the SEO attributes and rank power to the desired webpage.

Plus, they will help to define the mobile and print-friendly versions of the desktop or webpage. And can publish the content on numerous online platforms or sites. 

There are two kinds of canonical tags; one depicts the search engine that another webpage is the canonical version, while the other one is the self-referencing type that detects the web page as the original one.

For sites targeting several regions with the same langue, use hreflang tag to avoid duplications. 

301 Redirect

Making a 301 redirect means assigning a master webpage or canonical URL for all the other alternate URLs. It will prevent the web pages from fighting with one another while boosting the relevance of the content.

N.B: It must not be limited to only the homepage. Instead, it applies to all the other alternate URLs of the individual web pages.

URL Categorization

Make sure to study the website taxonomy and streamline it. Next up, map out the web pages and allocate each with a unique H1 and quality keyword.

Afterward, organize the content into clusters format to minimize duplicate content as much as possible. Lastly, you can designate the master category for the web pages, if possible. 

This, in turn, will manage the product webpage with minimal effect on user experience and SEO performance.

URL Parameter Headling 

Look for the URLs that require crawling and which parameters bots you can ignore. As a result, you will not have to waste the crawl budget and can even effectively avoid duplication content issues. 

Then, add canonical tags to indicate the unwanted tracking parameters. This tag will interact with the search engines and guide them on what actions to take.

Meta Robots “No Index” Tag

Marketers often use duplicate content for staging environments or landing web pages for ads. They are useful for collecting the data or testing the modifications before making it live.

However, if you don’t add the “no index” tag to the HTML code of the test page, the bots will index them and display the web pages. 

Hence, make sure to add the tag. So it can signal the search engines to crawl the webpage and not index it.

To Conclude

Duplicate content affects your rankings and SEO performance. Hence, the best practice is to use clean and consistent URL variations, creating unique and high-quality content. And conduct regular website monitor.

After all, when you go the extra mile, the ultimate result will please you with high search rankings, online visibility, and organic traffic. Hopefully, you have no more queries regarding “Why is having duplicate content an issue for SEO?”

FAQs

Why is Having Duplicate Content an Issue for SEO?

Having duplicate content affects website owners in terms of search engine rankings and traffic losses. Search engines rarely show numerous versions of similar content, so they are forced to pick which version offers the ultimate output. This, in return, affects the online visibility of the duplicates.

Why Does Duplicate Content Cause an Issue with the Ranking?

Duplicate contents are those contents that are already available on numerous URLs on the internet. As more than one URL shows the same kind of copy, the search engines get confused in picking which URL to rank higher in the search results. Eventually, it will end up giving both the URLs a lower position and preference for the other pages.

How Much Duplicate Content is Acceptable?

Usually, 25% to 30% of duplicate content is acceptable. And Google doesn’t consider them spam nor penalize the website unless they try to manipulate the search engine results. However, this is not always right, as search engine algorithm changes often.

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