Although not an intentional result of content managers’ work, many websites contain duplicate content.  Most of these content managers even know about it, some ignore it, while others actually exploit it. Duplicate content causes indexing and search engine problems on Google, ultimately affecting a website’s rankings.

Duplicate content is characterized by absolutely identical (duplicate content) or very similar (near duplicate content) content. Duplicate contents found on one’s own domain is called internal duplicate content. When it is scattered across domains it is called external duplicate content.

How does Duplicate Content originate?

“Content Scraping” is one, but not the only, source.  Typical sources are internal search results pages, various mobile-friendly URLs, press releases, meta tags or job advertisements.  Content recording via RSS or a domain move can lead to double content as well.  Sometimes how a content management system structures its content and distributes it to URLs is the cause.  As a result, it’s important that content is always accessible via a unique URL.

How does Google recognize Duplicate Content?

In essence, Google has no problem with duplicate content, as long as it is designated as such. Google needs this information because, with multiple URLs indexed with the same content, the Google Bot can’t assess the relevance of the individual pages and their content.

What are the consequences of duplicate content for website operators?

Google equates publishing duplicate content with a fraudulent attempt, preventing the user from finding the best search result. Because the Google bot is unable to recognize the content’s relevance, indexing problems arise, leading ultimately to ranking problems and fluctuations in search results.

How can one best avoid this problem?

By creating your own unique content!  Cost factors often preclude this option, making it impossible to dispense with duplicate content.  It is often simply too complicated to adjust content to eliminate duplication. In these cases, Google should be notified of your duplicate content.

How do I know if a site contains duplicate content?

The website www.siteliner.com provides a good overview of duplicate content, broken links, etc.   A look at this website will provide you with new insights about your own website.

Tips on handling duplicate content

  • Use the Meta Robots tag “noindex” in order to instruct Google not to index a particular URL
  • Refer to domain redirection in the .htaccess
  • Canonical tags point out if there are multiple versions of the same content and which is the most relevant
  • Maintain consistency during internal linking
  • Don’t use robots.txt to eliminate duplicate content because it would penalize Google

Conclusion:

Duplicate content is not a bad thing as long as you are honest and notify Google. There is no hard and fast rule about how to reduce duplicate content.  However, exclusive content which adds value is appreciated not only by the users but by Google, as well.

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