How Does Duplicate Content Hurt Your Website
Fresh, relevant web content plays a key role in bringing search engine traffic to your website. But content needs to be both relevant to searchers and original. Duplicate content is a serious issue online, and it can influence how high your pages rank. Understanding duplicate content and how to deal with it can help you anticipate how well your pages will rank so you can improve them.
What Constitutes Duplicate Content?
According to Google’s developer guidelines, “Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”
Duplicate content may be intentionally plagiarized from others, or it can be a cited quotation, or it can be incidental. It may be identical to other web pages on the domain or from other domains entirely.
Regardless, the outcome is the same. Google and other search engines will recognize duplicate content and factor it into their search rank algorithm. There’s no direct penalty for duplicate content in general, but Google will effectively choose one page that appears to be the most original and relevant version of the content, and downrank others that appear to be duplicated.
Avoid Plagiarizing Content from Other Sites
Since search engines recognize it, copying content from other sites should be avoided. It probably won’t be successful in imitating other pages if they are more popular, so it’s a waste of space. It can also lead to copyright complaints. Run a plagiarism detector or duplicate content checker to determine if your pages are heavily made up of duplicate content. Quotes here and there are not bad, but they won’t convince search engines that they are better than the original source.
In severe cases of duplicate content, Google may determine that it is deceptive and malicious, and the site will be removed from Google search results. Even though this is rare, it’s a good reason to be wary of hosting duplicated content that might be falsely flagged as deceptive because of its similarity to another domain.
When Other Sites Duplicate Your Content
A duplicate content checker can also find out that your content has been copied and reused on other websites. This can be damaging to your reputation and your SEO, but for the reasons described above, it won’t automatically lead to other pages gaining a higher search rank at your expense. However, they may be able to outrank your original content if they provide more useful services or are more accessible to the reader. For instance, if your original content was short and not engaging, but it was reused as part of longer content that is easier for readers to understand, their version may rank higher.
In these cases, it may be necessary to contact the other website and request that they take it down, or threaten legal action. Make sure your content displays copyright information and attributes its ownership so there is no question of what the original source is. Use a duplicate content checker regularly to see if others have taken your content.
Internal Duplicate Content
Duplicate content for the purpose of search engines also includes when you use the same content on multiple pages of the same domain. Writers may copy and reuse content for different reasons, or there may be multiple versions of the same page. Regardless, search engines will try to point toward one relevant page instead of multiples, so you should check for internal duplicate content to avoid confusion.
Avoiding internal duplicates can include moving repeated text to its own page if it makes up a large proportion of the page. Otherwise, search engines may think that two separate pages are different versions of the same page. Link to this content on the page rather than pasting it entirely. This includes important topic-related content as well as generic information like copyright and privacy policies.
You can use 301 redirects in your .htaccess file to direct search engine bots to the right version if a URL has changed. Alternatively, the canonical tag can be used to indicate the preferred version of a page.
For all of these reasons, checking for duplicate content is extremely valuable. Use a duplicate content checker that can scan your website for matching content across the Web. Dealing with duplicate content on your pages and plagiarized content on competitor sites can improve your search rank and the overall ability of search engines to understand and direct people to your best content.