Why duplicate content an issue for SEO?

In this blog, we look at why duplicate content is an issue for SEO. Search engines aim to provide the best possible content for their users and duplicate content on different domains can flag concerns. Duplicate content can highlight laziness or a spammy website, which can suggest the website is not of much quality for the user to enjoy.

Duplicate content SEO practices work to avoid this kind of issue, after answers to the question ‘Does Google penalise duplicate content’ found that search engines do take this into account when reviewing webpages.

To ensure your website doesn’t suffer the penalties, be fully aware of how search engines monitor it and how it can impact your business. We’ve rounded up the key information you need, including:

  • What is duplicate content in SEO?
  • Does Google penalise duplicate content?
  • How to check for duplicate content on your website?
  • How to avoid duplicate content

What is duplicate content in SEO?

Duplicate content is any content that has been repeated on other websites as well as the source. This doesn’t just have to be on different domains. It is on any unique website address, so you can have duplicate content across the same website.

Duplicate content can mess with a search engine’s ability to prioritise the website if two separate URLs have the same content. There is no distinguishable reason to rank one higher than the other, harming overall rankings.

As a general rule, duplicate content is content that is word-for-word the same, with no changes made whatsoever. However, if the semantics are the same, it can still count as content that is too similar.

An example of this is if a site had a sentence describing a scene as a “tall tree against a blue sky.” If another site was to create a piece of content that described a scene as a “large tree with a clear sky”, it could be considered duplicate content.

Why duplicate content is an issue for SEO

Does Google Penalise Duplicate Content?

As a search engine, Google’s job is to provide results to users that are as close to what they’re looking for as possible. As a result, a piece of content that is made up of duplicate content can cause difficulties for search engines.

But does Google penalise this, and how hard do duplicate content SEO tactics have to work to avoid potentially creating similar content?

Aside from the fact that search engines won’t know which page to suggest to users due to the duplicate content, it can also cause other issues, such as:

  • Confusion regarding link metrics, such as trust and authority
  • Difficulty siphoning out the wrong and right versions of the duplicate content
  • A lack of indexing for the webpage impacts rankings and the DA behind the site

These complications can cause a lot of issues for search engines and, as such, can lead to penalties placed on the site. The removal of the rankings for duplicate content can seem like a penalty but is an automatic response as the search engine looks for solutions.

Beyond this, however, sites can be subject to a penalty if they have lots of content that is similar, whether it’s on blog posts or landing pages.

There have been instances where websites that are found to stealing work and creating duplicate pages and content across the board in a spammy way, Google has had to remove their indexing and be removed from all search results.

More commonly, Google will simply not index a page that has been found to have content that could have been copied. This penalty does not necessarily kill a website, but it can severely limit it in the future if it is not resolved.

How do you check for duplicate content on your website? 

Regularly checking for content that’s been duplicated on your website is highly recommended if you’re to avoid finding yourself in a difficult situation and your rankings suffering as a result.

At Six Search, we often suggest using checker tools such as SEO Review Tools and SiteLiner to check across multiple pieces of content.

Outside of these tools, you can check for it yourself. One of the most common methods is to take a quick look at the number of website pages that are indexed in Google from your website on the Google Search Console.

If you see a number that doesn’t look right or multiple pages that you haven’t created, you could be dealing with an issue.

How to Avoid Duplicate Content? 

Avoiding similar content is always a practice that should be implemented across every website. But this doesn’t mean it’s easy, so Tecmark has detailed the best ways to avoid this happening on your website.

Technical issues are most often the reason behind it as it’s not likely that a web developer or content manager would allow similar content to be placed across a site. However, mistakes can happen, so having detailed processes in place to ensure that all content is signed off on and implemented correctly will avoid any miscommunications between the creative and technical teams.

There is also the option to avoid others from stealing your content, especially if they are using a scraping tool. By adding a self-referential rel=canonical link to your existing pages, you can stop scrapers from reaping the SEO rewards of your content, as the canonical attribute points to the URL it’s already on.

Learn more with the Six Search’s SEO Team.

So, now you know more about how it works, how it impacts indexing and ranking, and how Google Search Console is your best friend when spotting similar content across your site.

Don’t forget the following when you next review your website’s content:

  • Duplicate content can involve semantically related content
  • Rankings and indexes can be lost as a result of  content that is too similar
  • Search engines prioritise the user, and duplicate content is not beneficial to them
  • Regularly review and check your website using free tools
  • Avoid potential content that has been duplicated with communication and clever hacks

Tecmark’s team of passionate professionals can support any website looking to achieve its goals and boost its overall results with expert SEO processes. Whether you’re an e-commerce business, a service provider, or something more unique, give us a shout!

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