Regardless of whether duplicate content on a site is accidental or the result of someone stealing blocks of text from your web pages, it must be addressed and handled correctly.
It doesn’t matter if you manage a website for a small business or a large corporation; every site is vulnerable to the threat that duplicate content poses to SEO rankings.
In this article, I will explain how to find duplicate content, how to determine whether it’s affecting you internally or across other domains, and how to manage the duplicate content issues properly.
What Constitutes Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content refers to blocks of content that are either completely identical to one another (exact duplicates) or very similar, also known as common or near-duplicates. Near-duplicate content refers to two pieces of content with only minor differences.
Of course, having some similar content is natural and sometimes unavoidable (i.e., quoting another article on the internet).
The Different Types of Duplicate Content
There are two types of duplicate content:
- Internal duplicate content is when one domain creates duplicate content through multiple internal URLs (on the same website).
- External duplicate content, also known as cross-domain duplicates, occurs when two or more different domains have the same page copy indexed by the search engines.
Both external and internal duplicate content can occur as exact-duplicates or near-duplicates.
Is Duplicate Content Bad For SEO?
Officially, Google does not impose a penalty for duplicate content. However, it does filter identical content, which has the same impact as a penalty: a loss of rankings for your web pages.
Duplicate content confuses Google and forces the search engine to choose which of the identical pages it should rank in the top results. Regardless of who produced the content, there is a high possibility that the original page will not be the one chosen for the top search results.
This is just one of the many reasons duplicate content is bad for SEO. Here are some other obvious reasons why duplicate content sucks.
Internal Duplicate Content Issues
To avoid duplicate content issues, make sure that each page on your site has:
- a unique page title and meta description in the HTML code of the page
- headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) that differ from other pages on your website
The page title, meta description, and headings make up a minimal amount of the content on a page. However, it’s safer to keep your website out of the gray area of duplicate content as much as possible. It’s also an excellent way to have search engines see value in your meta descriptions.
If you cannot write a unique meta description for each page as you have too many pages, then exclude it. Most of the time, Google takes snippets from your content and presents it as the meta description anyway. However, it is still better to write a custom meta description if you can, as it is a critical element in driving click-throughs.