Many webmasters wonder why duplicate content is such a huge problem when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). While all the information available on the internet regarding duplicate content can seem overwhelming, it makes perfect sense when seen from Google’s point of view.
To illustrate this, let us look at an example that most people can relate to. You may have just watched a good movie and would like to find another similar movie. One way to do this would be to tweet or to send an email to some of your friends, asking them to recommend a film that they liked.
In this case, the result you expect is that your friends will reply with a number of different titles that they think you would enjoy watching. What you definitely do not want is for all of your friends to recommend the exact same movie, which you then decide is not what you are looking for. What you expect to get is a wide variety of movie titles, which increases the likelihood that you will find something you will like.
This is very similar to how Google’s search results work; the people at Google know that if a user keys in a search term and gets 10 web pages full of almost identical results, the chances of the searcher finding the information they require, are drastically reduced. The user experience also suffers, because it is extremely frustrating to click on different search results only to get the exact same information.
In order to get round this problem, Google has developed advanced search algorithms that prevent duplicate pages from being displayed for a particular search phrase. The result is, if you have a page on your website that has the same (or very similar) content to another page online, Google will only rank one of them.
How to Find Out If You Have Duplicate Content on Your Web Pages
There are plenty of tools available online that can help you find out if your web pages contain duplicate content. However, two of the most popular with webmasters and content developers are:
Both of these tools only require you to paste the URL of your webpage into the search box and click the ‘Go’ button to start checking your content. In many cases, some duplicate content will be found, so let us look at ways to fix your content in order to avoid penalties by Google.
Fixing Duplicate Content
Many webmasters and online content developers often try in vain to find the one ‘magic bullet’ solution that will easily solve the problem of duplicate content. Unfortunately, there is no simple, ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that will work for everyone; how you fix duplicate content on your website depends on your own situation. However, there are 3 solutions that are common, and every webmaster should find at least one that would be a good fit for their website. These are:
- 301 Redirect: This works by automatically forwarding visitors to your website from one page to the other if they are duplicates. For all intents and purposes, a 301 Redirect effectively eliminates duplicate content on the website because only one of the 2 pages is accessible online.
- Rel=canonical: A second option is to place the rel=canonical tag on the duplicate web pages. By using this tag, it tells Google which URL among the duplicate pages should be displayed among the search results. The tag’s format would look like this: <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.mydomain.com/the-url-you-want-listed-in-Google.html” />.
- No Index: When you would like to tell Google not to add a URL to its indexed search results, the No Index tag comes in handy. This is different from the previous methods because it removes a page from consideration as a search result instead of redirecting traffic. The tag is added to your web page HTML as <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” />.
It is clear that all the above methods of dealing with duplicate content are fairly technical. It is therefore necessary for you to discuss the one that would fit your website best with your web developer.
Are Other Issues Preventing Your Site From Ranking In Google?
Besides duplicate content, there are many other issues that could hurt your website’s Google rankings. If you suspect that there are problems, the best action to take is to carry out an SEO audit. We have an affordable and comprehensive SEO audit service which offers:
- An in-depth SEO analysis that includes both on-page and off-page factors, as well as mobile, social and analytics that affect your Google rankings.
- A comprehensive SEO report that grades each factor, allowing you to see areas where your SEO needs improvement.
- Consultation with one of our SEO experts, who will answer all your questions on optimizing your web pages.
Duplicate content can hurt your rankings with Google so take the time to make your site content stand out from the rest.