One SEO professional asked John Mueller during a hangout about duplicate content.
Their situation is they have had a news publishing website since 2009. They post articles that are related to things like recipes, health, fitness, etc.
However, what they tend to do is recreate another version of said recipe – say they would tweak it around to something like sugar-free, sodium-free, or something like that.
So, it would still be considered duplicate content.
SEO tools are suggesting that they remove it because none of the duplicate content is being ranked or indexed by Google. They were curious about what the best solution for this would be.
John answered that he would be cautious about blindly following any SEO tool. Because SEO tools make assumptions regarding what Google will do and what will happen.
Sometimes these assumptions are okay.
And sometimes, they are incorrect.
John thinks taking this type of feedback from SEO tools is useful, because it’s still something where they can examine the feedback from the SEO tool, and make a judgment call as to whether the SEO tool’s feedback is correct.
The SEO pro might say they will choose to follow the guidance in this case, and choose not to follow the guidance in the next case.
If they are seeing something from an SEO tool that tells you “You should disavow these links,” or “You should delete this content,” in a case like this where it may not be duplicate content, because it’s slightly different content–this is something where the professional must always consider the strategic aspect of how you want your pages to be shown, and what the competitive environment is like in the search results.
Sometimes it makes sense to have one article split up into different variations, because these individual variations are unique enough that people are actually searching for them.
And sometimes it makes sense to combine an article and say “Well, I have three or four variations, so I will create a page out of that.”
Usually what happens here is that one page will be a bit stronger in the search results.
So this means if you have a very competitive environment, having fewer pages that are stronger is usually a good idea.
Whereas if you’re already doing really well in these types of queries, then perhaps sometimes having multiple variations is an option to better target the specific intents that people have.
And this is not something where John would say that there is always one clear answer.
This happens at approximately the 15:36 mark in the video.