Duplicate Content And How It Affects SEO

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Is duplicate content really a problem? We’re almost sure that you’ve heard about this before. You know, the warning of having duplicate pieces of content on your home site or copying another website’s content without giving due credit. Plagiarism is bad, period! But will this practice harm your marketing efforts? Today we’re going to find out with issue #2 of our on-page optimization series.

First things, first…

What’s Duplicate Content?

In SEO, this refers to content that’s appearing in more than one place on the Internet. The ‘one place’ we’re referring to is the unique web address or URL. If the same information appears on more than one URL, it’s duplicate content.

This can affect how you rank on search engines because it’ll be difficult for their algorithms to decide which content is more relevant to a user’s query. That’s why whenever news websites or blogs republish content from another site, they include a link pointing to the original publication.

The link is an easy way to let search engines know that the content is republished work. Hence, the most relevant result that’s presented to a searcher will likely be the original piece.

So Why All The Fuss About Duplicate Content?

There are two parties that content duplication affects. The first is the content publishers and second is the search engines. For the latter, when content is duplicated, they have a hard time deciding what to include or exclude from their index. But that’s not all!

Their algorithms may not know which content to rank since they’re all the same. Also, it can affect how ‘link juice’ (refers to the SEO value of a hyperlink) is passed on but more on this shortly.

For content publishers, several issues arise when content is duplicated. For one thing, website owners may experience loss of traffic and ranking positions because the engines can only pick one piece of content to rank. Plus algorithms are more sophisticated today – they can detect spun or duplicate content in most cases, so copied content usually wouldn’t outperform the original publication.

Finally, other content publishers or site owners looking for useful resources to link to will use only one source. There’s just no value in linking to the same piece of content on different sites.

When duplicate content is in play, search engine algorithms behave somewhat in this way:

duplicate content

What Causes Duplicate Content On The Web?

There are many legitimate reasons why content may be duplicated such as when a company publishes a press release and it gets picked up by other channels. Or when another website reposts your content and gives you proper link attribution.

But the most common cause is when others copy your content without giving due credit. However, there are technical reasons that can also cause duplicate content issues on your own website and these are:

  • Improper use of URL parameters
  • No redirection of HTTP to HTTPS
  • No set redirect preference of WWW and non-WWW
  • Using tags and categories at the same time with a CMS (content management system) like WordPress

How to Avoid Duplicate Content

Fixing duplication of content is easy. In most cases, using a 301 redirect, setting a canonical version, internal link consistency and ensuring proper attribution is given for republished content are all you need to do. Let’s look at each of them.

1. 301 Redirect

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect that passes authority or link equity to another web page. Basically, it’s a fancy way of saying that page A has been forever moved to web page B and all value with it. The only caveat is that 301s only pass about 95 percent of link equity, so you’ll lose some link juice.

2. Use Rel=”canonical”

Written as <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.techhelp.ca”/> in HTML and placed within the <head></head> in your document. This let’s search engines know that your content is the original copy so that they can treat all others as duplicate content.

3. Keep URLs Consistent

Maintain consistency when linking to other web pages on your site as an extra measure of avoiding duplicate content.Click To Tweet

For example, if you prefer www as oppose to non-www, then make sure you’re using the former whenever you link to any page. If you’ve set up proper redirects, then this shouldn’t be an issue but good practice is to be as consistent as possible.

4. Get Proper Attribution

If your content appears on another web page, make sure they’ve placed a link back to your site. The same goes for syndicated or content that’s shared with other audiences by utilizing your RSS feeds.

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So that’s it for duplicate content. Don’t forget to subscribe and get notified when we publish the next issue.

>> RELATED: On-page SEO Checklist and Fundamentals

Last Updated on June 12, 2019