Google really dislikes duplicate content. So much so, that they have an entire section of their web developer’s guide dedicated to the topic.
Their guidelines state that the following is considered duplicate content. It is important to note that for the majority of situations, Google explains that a filter is what exists, not a penalty. There are still many SEO professionals who refer to duplicate content issues as a duplicate content penalty, which is not quite accurate.
- Discussion forums that can generate both regular and stripped-down pages targeted at mobile devices
- Items in an online store that are shown or linked to by multiple distinct URLs
- Printer-only versions of web pages
If your site contains multiple pages with largely identical content, there are a number of ways you can indicate your preferred URL to Google. (This is called “canonicalization”.) More information about canonicalization.
However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience, when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.
Google tries hard to index and show pages with distinct information. This filtering means, for instance, that if your site has a “regular” and “printer” version of each article, and neither of these is blocked with a noindex tag, we’ll choose one of them to list. In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.”
In this video, we dive deep into these guidelines and figure out the best ways to deal with some of the most common situations involving duplicate content.
Be sure to watch the video and like and subscribe to our YouTube channel today!
You can also read the transcript below.
What Is Duplicate Content and Why Is It a Problem Transcript
Please be sure to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel for brand new episodes every week!
Today’s question comes from Abby, and she asks:
I’ve heard that Google doesn’t like duplicate content. What exactly does that mean?
OK, so there are several different facets to this question.
So let’s take a look and dive into this in detail.
First of all, let’s examine Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
If you take a look up to the left, you’ll see the guidelines for duplicate content.
So take a look at that real fast right now, and we will move forward in a few seconds.
OK, so if your site has duplicate content issues, there are several things that you could do to correct these.
First of all, you can use 301 redirects.
And this is critical. If you’re doing a site, if you’re doing a full site overhaul and you’re trying to get rid of duplicate content, similar content, stuff like that.
You want to use 301 redirects to make sure that only the most unique pages are shown to Google.
This will help make sure that you drive the most appropriate value for those pages in Google’s eyes.
The next thing is you want to be careful about your content syndication.
If Google sees substantial content that is duplicate across many domains as a result of that syndication…
Google might pick another version to show in the search results.
So how do you fix that?
You want to use the canonical tag.
The canonical tag will basically tell Google that your content is the most original and should be considered the most unique version of that content.
Make sure that any site that you syndicate your content to has that canonical tag, that canonicals back to your version as the most unique version.
Anyway, so the next one is you want to know your CMS, or content management system.
If you want a content management system on your website, such as WordPress, then you need to make sure that you know exactly what things like the permalink settings and various types of redirect plugins do.
Because if you don’t, you could end up creating a situation where you have a bunch of duplicate URLs, which is basically the same as duplicate content.
So if you have a situation where one URL is loading in the browser, but Google sees another URL, that’s going to be considered duplicate content.
You want to make sure that every version of a URL redirects back to the main canonicalized URL.
And the next thing, make sure that you standardize your internal links.
So any time you link to a specific page, you want to use the same URL structure.
You don’t want to use something like https://iloveseo.com/ and then use https://www.iloveseo.com/.
You want to make sure that you pick one and stick with it, so you don’t end up with duplicate content issues as a result of that.
And the last thing you want to be aware of in terms of duplicate content is if you have a site that has a lot of similar content, you want to make sure that you do a content de-duplication process, right?
So you want to take a look at similar content on your site and find out how you can improve it, combine it, whatever, to create the most important unique content page that Google is going to love.
Well, that’s it for today’s Ask an SEO episode 7.
Be sure to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel for brand-new episodes every week.
This is Brian Harnish signing off. Have a great day!