The words “duplicate content” strike fear into the hearts of many webmasters and SEOs. But the truth is, not all duplicate content is created equal.
Since content is a core element of good SEO, many have tried to manipulate the result by using the old “copy and paste” approach. Google punishes this method, so it should strike fear into your heart.
But if you have unintentionally created some duplicate content on your site, don’t freak out. Below, we will look at how Google treats duplicate material, and I’ll share a few tips you can use to ensure that your site’s content is fresh and unique.
To gain a better understanding of how Google treats duplicate content, you need to read their overview here. If you are afraid of getting penalized, let me help you breathe a bit easier with this quote from the article above.
“Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.” — Google
OK, so now you know Google is not out to get you, but if you do have duplicate content, you should take some time to clean it up. Duplicate content typically falls into one of three categories: exact duplicates, near duplicates and cross-domain duplicates.
Duplicate content can result from a variety of different factors. In some cases, websites license content for use in other places; poor site architecture flaws can play a role, too. Plagiarism results in duplicate content, and the most common cause, in my opinion, is CMS issues.
While all of these can create problems, we must deal with each in a specific way. Before we get into the tips, let’s address the consequences of duplicate content.
If you posted a piece of duplicate content due to an oversight, the search engines in most cases would simply filter it out and display what they believe to be the best version in the SERPs.
Sometimes, they will just filter it out before indexing the piece at all. Users want diversity in their search results. So the crawlers and engines are doing their best to deliver that. Below are just a few of the common consequences associated with duplicate content.
Having duplicate content on your site is not useful for the search engines or your end users. That said, you can prevent negative impacts by taking care of the issue.
Below are a few ways you can fix any duplicate content issues you come across.
This code tells the search bots where to find the true piece of content.
While duplicate content is an issue and can harm you in the SERPs, it’s not as scary as many make it out to be. Unless you are maliciously trying to manipulate the SERPs, Google and the other search engines won’t typically penalize you. But, as stated above, there are still negative consequences for having duplicate content on your site. I recommend crawling your site, then doing your best to clean up and resolve all issues. The crawlers and your users will thank you!