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Duplicate Content: Why It Happens and How to Fix It

In: Search Engine Optimization, Search Optimization

So what is duplicate content?

Duplicate content occurs when the same or substantially similar content is published on different web pages or websites. When this happens, search engines face confusion in determining which page to display for a particular search term. For instance, if someone searches for “duck hunting,” and your duplicate page appears in their search results, they might not click through to read your post.

Having a website with a significant amount of duplicate content can exacerbate the issue. Google may mistakenly identify one of your many pages as the original source of the information and consequently demote other pages that are, in fact, the authentic sources. To mitigate the negative impacts of duplicate content and ensure that your website’s pages are correctly indexed and ranked, consider professional Content Writing Services that can help you create unique and valuable content for your audience.

How do duplicate content issues happen?

You might think that duplicate content is easy to avoid—just don’t publish duplicate posts! But in most cases, it’s not quite that simple. Here are a few examples of why.

  1. You use a single CMS (content management system) for multiple sites.
  2. You use a content management system whose settings are not well-regulated.
  3. You make changes to your site without first testing those changes on a small niche site that you control and that’s not very backlink-rich.
  4. You don’t have any editorial control over what other people publish in your niche, and there’s too much competition in your field.
  5. You repeat content from the same source on multiple pages or posts.
  6. You don’t have a content review process in place to catch duplicate content problems before they go live.
  7. You publish too many posts in a short space of time, and you don’t have time to properly review everything you publish for duplicate content issues.
  8. You are always adding new pages and information to your site and forgetting about older posts that already have problems with duplicate content, like pages with different URLs or old pages that were never indexed.
  9. You need more space on your website but are constantly adding new pages without deleting old, outdated ones first; this means there is duplication between older and newer posts.

Common causes of duplicate content

So these are some of the ways that duplicate content can occur, but what are some of the specific reasons for it? Here are some of the most common causes.

  1. You use a single CMS (content management system) for multiple sites.
    If you have more than one website, chances are you use a single content management system (CMS) to update both sites and manage your content. There’s nothing wrong with doing this in theory, but it can lead to issues if your settings aren’t set up correctly.
  2. You use a content management system whose settings are not well-regulated.
    Some CMSs have more issues with duplicate content than others. For example, Joomla has had issues in the past with allowing blog posts to be indexed separately, which can lead to lots of problems. Other CMSs and platforms allow blog posts and home pages to be indexed separately by default, which is also a cause for concern.
  3. You make changes to your site without first testing those changes on a small niche site that you control and that’s not very backlink-rich.

How to fix duplicate content issues

Now that you know some of the reasons why you might have duplicate content on your site, let’s talk about how to fix it.

  1. The first thing to do is to make sure you have a content audit in place so that you can easily spot areas where you might have duplicate content.
  2. Decide whether you have the time, money, or expertise to fix the problem.
  3. If you can’t afford to fix it (or don’t have the time), remove the content in question and apologize to your readers and customers. You can also publish a post explaining your situation and giving tips on how to avoid duplicate content in the future.
  4. If you do have the time, resources, and expertise to fix it, take a look at our three-step process for fixing duplicate content issues: Identify problem pages, Take action on problem pages, and Test new fixes.
  5. Some sites have a content review process in place to catch duplicate content issues before they go live. This is the best way to avoid duplication between older and newer posts because these processes are more complex. If you don’t have this in place, you can use a list of popular CMSs such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla! to identify problem pages.
  6. If your site is an old one that has been around for a while and has duplicate content, remember that the content on your site will be of less value over time.

Learn more about: How to Conduct a Comprehensive SEO Audit

Additional methods for dealing with duplicate content

A few people reported that Google sent them a message after having detected duplicate content on their site. They say Google said they would remove the search snippets and stop linking to those pages in the future.

Google will often use a “referrer” tag to see where your traffic is coming from. If you have someone else’s content on your site and you’re getting lots of traffic, Google may think that you are stealing traffic and your rankings may be affected.

Google will also look at anchor text, which means it will see whether or not you are stealing links with identical anchor text pointing to the same URL. If this is the case, then they will also penalize your rankings.

Does Google have a duplicate content penalty?

There is no Google duplicate content penalty; the only penalty that you might receive is for having poor-quality content, regardless of whether it’s duplicate or not. Issues with duplicate content can lead to a fall in rankings if you are trying to rank for very competitive terms, especially if your site is the only one trying to rank for these terms. If a lot of sites are using duplicate content on these terms, then it’s unlikely that your site will rank well even if you have a high-quality post.

Dig deeper into- How to Recover from Google Penalties

What is a duplicate content penalty?


A duplicate content penalty occurs when Google recognizes that you have published the same or very similar content on your site multiple times. In response, Google may penalize you by lowering the rankings of the pages that contain duplicate content as well as potentially affecting the rankings of your other pages. Duplicate content penalties are relatively uncommon and typically arise when Google detects a substantial volume of duplicate content on your site. However, such penalties can also occur if you have a significant amount of low-quality or spammy content. To maintain a healthy and well-optimized website, it’s essential to consider professional Technical SEO Services that can address issues like duplicate content and ensure your site aligns with best SEO practices.

Conclusion:

Google’s Matt Cutts said: “I wouldn’t worry about duplicate content penalties unless your site had a lot of it. It’s not worth worrying about. [Duplicate content] has to be pretty extreme for us to lose trust in that site, for Google to think the site is unreliable or the site is trying to spam us or manipulate our results. It just depends on what sort of percentage of the whole site that is.”

We all know how important SEO is. And how essential it is to add and maintain good quality content on your website. But this can sometimes be a daunting task and takes a lot of time.
There are a number of ways to avoid duplicate content issues with Google, such as avoiding repeating text, adding descriptive tags like alt or rel=” alternate”, and using different URL structures to prevent issues.

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