How Does Duplicate Content Affect SEO?

What Is Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content refers to multiple pieces of online content that are either exactly the same, or incredibly similar to one another. There are two types of duplicate content; internal and external.

Internal duplicate content is when the same content exists on more than one page of your website. External duplicate content refers to any similar or copied content that is indexed by search engines on two different sites.

How Does Duplicate Content Affect SEO?

Internal duplicate content

Internal duplicate content causes problems for your SEO because it can confuse search engines and make it difficult to determine which page is the most relevant for a particular search query. As a result, your website may not rank as high as it could if there was less duplicate content on your site.

In addition, duplicate content can also lead to lower click-through rates and reduced web traffic. This is because search engines may not show all of the relevant duplicate pages in their search results, or they may rank the wrong page as the top result. Ultimately, this means that search engines could be showing outdated versions of your site while the most recent versions experience a loss in traffic.

External duplicate content

External duplicate content often appears when a website owner 'scrapes' content from another site. Essentially, this means that they copy the content and try to pass it off as their own.

Even if you did not intentionally do this, external duplicate content on your site can be considered suspicious. It is possible for people to report your site to Google for duplicate content, and if they do, your site may be penalized. The content will be reviewed by Google, and if it is determined that the content was copied without permission, your site could be removed from search engine results pages entirely, or significantly dropped down the rankings.

So, it is crucial that you are aware of the impact of duplicate content and you take steps to avoid it.

Common Duplicate Content Issues (And How To Fix Them)

Internal duplicate content issues

On-page elements

Small on-page elements like the meta description and URL can still be considered duplicate content.  It is important that you make each of them unique, even on similar pages, so when bots are crawling your site, they can easily distinguish between the different pages.

Product descriptions

Product descriptions cause issues because they are often copied and used on other websites. Similar products on your own site may also use sections of duplicate content. If you have a page that is product-focused, make sure to write unique descriptions for each product and include as much detail as possible.

URL parameters

URL parameters are another common source of internal duplicate content. These parameters are used to show different versions of the same page, often on ecommerce sites. For example, if a product is available in different sizes or colors, URL parameters can be used to differentiate between each one. This does have its benefits because it can help you track conversions and other data, but it can also lead to duplicate content issues.

Google offers a URL parameter tool that allows you to block any bots from crawling these separate pages, so they don't show up as duplicate content.

External duplicate content issues

Scraped content

One of the most common causes of external duplicate content is when someone copies your content and publishes it on their own website. This can be done intentionally or unintentionally, but it is still considered plagiarism.

If you find that your content has been scraped, you can report it to Google using the 'Content Removal' tool in the Webmaster Tools. You can also reach out to the website owner and ask them to remove the content.

Using an exact match search on Google is the best way to find duplicate content. To do this, simply copy a few sentences of your content into the search bar with quotation marks around it. If the exact content is anywhere online, it will show up. You can also use tools like Copyscape to check that content is not plagiarized before you post it.

Syndicated content

Syndicated content is when another site republishes your content with your permission. This benefits you because it can help you reach a new audience, but it can also lead to duplicate content issues if not done correctly.

To avoid this, make sure to include a link back to the original article on your site. You can also add a disclaimer at the bottom of the article that says it was syndicated from another source.

Duplicate content can have a negative impact on your SEO and should be avoided whenever possible. By understanding the different types of duplicate content and how to fix them, you can avoid any penalties from Google. Make sure that you check regularly for duplicate content so you can protect your rankings.