Does duplicate content affect SEO? Whether accidental or done intentionally, duplicate content is an important topic for website owners to address. Let’s take a closer look at duplicate content and how it affects your site’s SEO. Once you are informed, you can make a better decision about the content you use for your website.
What is Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content is content that appears in more than one place on the internet. The wording of the content is identical or nearly identical in each place. The “place” is determined by the URL (website address) of the content.
Internal duplicate content can happen on a website unintentionally. For example, online businesses with multiple similar products may have similar content on more than one product page. More often, this issue is a result of URL variations. For example, if you use printer-friendly versions of text that generate a new print-only URL, you are creating an exact copy.
External duplicate content is sometimes the result of what is referred to as “scraping”. An unscrupulous site might copy and paste your text onto their website, creating an exact copy of your content.
How Does This Affect Your SEO?
Technically, duplicate content is not a penalty as far as search engines go. This does not mean it won’t impact you, however. Duplicate content does affect your SEO, even if it’s not a penalty. These are the three main issues that this issue creates for search engines:
- When two (or more) identical copies of content exist, search engines will not know which one to include in their indices. Imagine shopping and finding two identical items, one name brand, and the other a knock off, but you can’t tell them apart. Do you spend your time to tell them apart, or just leave them both behind?
- Search engines will not know whether to direct link metrics to one page or to divide them between the duplicate versions. Link metrics are factors such as trust, authority, and link equity. It’s like a tie in a race. Rather than standing alone in the top spot on the podium, you might have to share the space with someone else.
- Which version of the content will rank for search engine results? Google and other search engines want to provide the most relevant content possible, so it is highly unlikely that they will include two versions of the same content in their results. This means that likely only one (or none) of the versions will rank.
How to Fix It
As you can see, the goal of SEO is to provide unique, relevant content. Duplicate content will create issues. How can you fix these issues? Here are a few solutions:
- 301 Redirect: If you have internal duplicate content (such as an HTTP and HTTPS versions of your site), set up a 301 redirect from the duplicate page to the original page.
- Rel=”canonical”: This attribute lets search engines know that a given page should be treated as a copy of a specific URL. All links and metrics that search engines apply to that page will be credited to the URL you specify.
- Meta Robots Noindex: This lets search engines crawl the links on a page without including those links in their indices.
For best SEO practices, make sure that duplicate content does not exist on your site. If you have unintentionally created internal duplicate content on your site and need help fixing that issue, the team at HMG can help. If you have copy and pasted someone else’s content on your website, be sure to delete that immediately. How does duplicate content affect SEO? Be sure to also keep these tips in mind when creating content for your own website.