There are two types of duplicate content – external and internal. External duplicate content appears when you copy someone else’s work, and you put it on your website as your own. The internal duplicate content is when you have the same piece of information on several pages on your site. In both cases, it can decrease your website rankings in Google searches. There is a myth that Google penalizes for duplicate content. Let’s make it clear – no it does not. Google realizes there are and will be duplicate content issues around the web. Matt Cutts, an American software engineer, said that somewhere between 25% – 30% of the content on the Internet is duplicate and that is okay. Sometimes companies post the updated version of their terms and conditions, or they have the website translated into another language. Is that treated as the duplicate content issue? No, it is not. Matt Cutts explains that Google takes duplicate content and groups it into clusters and it will then show the best result from these clusters. Google does not penalize for duplicate content, but it can decrease your rankings if you violate the rules. It means that if you continually copy someone else’s work or ideas.
How can you check if your website has duplicate content?
Plenty of tools on the Internet enable you to check if your website has duplicate content. Some of the best ones are Copyscape Plagiarism Checker and Siteliner. The first one will tell you if there is any other content similar to yours on other websites and the second one will identify if you have internal duplicate content on your site. The nice thing about these tools is that they are free. If you need more in-depth analysis, you can upgrade to a premium account. Siteliner is simple to use. You just go to their website. You type in your website address and press enter. The site will show you how much internal duplicate content you have, where on the site you have broken links, what is your average page load time and other. You run the SEO audit, and it shows that you have a significant amount of duplicate content. Let’s say you are a blogger and every post you create is unique. Where does the duplicate content come from then? Well, the answer is in the next paragraph.
Identifying the issue with duplicate content
Many CMS systems such as WordPress, Magento or Joomla can create an internal duplicate content issue. Here’s the thing. Do you have categories on your blog? Do you use tags? Is there recent posts section or maybe you have a website and a blog page with short snippets redirecting people to the actual blog post? Whenever you create a post, there is a link assigned to it. Then, you attach the post to a certain category – this is where another link is created. Next, you add tags to your post for your readers to identify what it is exactly about. You may also think that it will help in SEO. Well, it depends on how you use your tags. Let’s say that you run a blog about aging and dementia. The categories for your posts can be, for example, older age, Alzheimer’s and dementia and disability. Then, if you write a blog post and place it in the disability category, you may want to use one of the following tags: mental illness, autism, vision impairment or brain injury. In other words, categories help you to sort out the content on your website and tags even more specifically explain the nature of your blog post. Every single of these elements creates an additional link. See below:
You created one blog post that is accessible via three links. It is unique for a human being, but it is not for Google crawlers. They treat each link separately. Therefore, they think that two of these three links are duplicates. What can you do?
Duplicate content solutions
If several URLs lead to the same content, it can be solved! The answer is a canonical URL. Canonical URL tells Google crawlers which URL is the original one. Once you have that done, Google will direct all other URLs to the original one, and no duplicate content issue will appear on your website. It is a good idea to noindex your tags if you run a blog or website on WordPress. As previously mentioned, tags create additional URLs that are then treated as a separate page with a “unique” content. This unique content obviously exists under the original URL of your blog post. It is when the duplicate issue arises. There is a great plugin for WordPress that is called Yoast SEO plugin. The taxonomy section allows you to noindex your tags. Also, it is good to remember that title tags and meta descriptions matter to Google and you should write them individually for every page. Also, when you login to Google Search Console, you will be able to see how much duplicate content you have.
All pages on your website ideally should be unique. You should have individual title tags and meta descriptions for every page. Your posts are better if you divide them into smaller sections and include subheadings. Duplicate content cannot be avoided in many cases. The perfect example is e-commerce website where the individual product page can be reached under many categories. Google understands that there is duplicate content around the web and it does not penalize it. It can, however, impact your rankings if you abuse the general rules and become spammy. It is when you copy large pieces of information from other sources. The ideal solution for on-site SEO work and duplicate content issue prevention for WordPress websites and blogs is Yoast SEO plugin. The plugin is free, and the Yoast website offers great articles on how you can configure the plugin. Did you come across duplicate content on your site? If so, how did you solve the problem?