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11th September 2020

Duplicate Content And How To Manage It

The world is more digital now than ever before. Statistics show that, on average, close to 3 quintillion bytes of data are uploaded to the internet every day. Although this makes life easier, there is one constant worry that lingers, that of duplicate content. You might be wondering why is this important?

The internet has become a massive marketplace. Organisations spend millions on digital marketing to increase their traffic and generate revenue. They employ best-in-class SEO copywriting techniques to make sure they do not fall victim to the effect of duplicate content. Here are some compelling reasons why you need to be aware of duplicate content.

What Is Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content is when the same material appears in more than one resource – in this case, URLs. Even if you own all the other URLs, and the information is similar, that is still considered duplicate content.

Why Should I Worry?

The big issue with duplicate content is that it affects your SEO for all the wrong reasons. The reason you are online is to promote yourself to the masses, and SEO copywriting is an integral part of ensuring that your content is ahead of the pack. The main ways that this affects you are as follows:

  1. You alienate your audience
    A good SEO content strategy is one that will get traffic to your main page. Here is where you showcase your entire catalogue. If the same content is on your homepage, blog and social media, a search engine may rank your social media higher than the homepage. A consequence of this is that some of your traffic may ignore you since they are not interested.
  2. Unequal backlink distribution
    Good content always attracts referrals – in this case, backlinks. Consumers are looking to get what they want in the first instance. Different pages will split these backlinks, and in most cases, unequally. If they click on a backlink and go to the wrong place, you will miss out on that revenue.
  3. It slows down web crawling
    As a trusted search engine, Google constantly crawls websites for updates and new information. With duplicate content, you make it harder for it to find the latest content from your site, and this will affect how it indexes you.
  4. Scrapers may take advantage of you
    From time to time, new domains ‘scrape’ information from existing sites to popularise themselves. As they do this, they may sometimes end up outranking all your duplicate domains, and you lose out on traffic.

How do search engines deal with it?

Google is the point of reference here as it is the dominant force in the business. Although there is no penalty for creating duplicate content, there have been instances where Google has taken action. A domain owner will face a penalty if the intent for duplication is to manipulate search results or an act of spamming. In such cases, Google will make adjustments to the indexing and ranking of your sites. The worst-case scenario is that Google may remove you from its index, and you no longer appear in its search results.

An example of manipulation of search results is when your domain only has content scraped from other sites, with no additional value to the original site. Let’s say you scrape the listings on an e-commerce website and do not provide your unique reviews or comparisons – the fact is that you will get into trouble. To be on the safe side, you can always employ the services of an SEO agency to help you with your online content strategy and avoid this risk.

How can I avoid duplicate content?

  1. Use canonical tags for multiple URLs with similar content
    Canonical tags help a search engine identify which of your URLs is the main one. It is beneficial for your SEO, as it will be the only one that the search will index, giving you a better ranking. Any backlinks to our other URLs will also point to the main page.
  2. Include 301 redirects on all our other URLs
    Redirects are commands to a search engine to reroute visitors to your main page. They indicate that those pages are invalid and redirect traffic to the main webpage. Redirects are helpful as they merge your Domain Authorities, allowing you to appear higher in search results.
  3. Get rid of paginated comments
    Feedback from your audience is essential. It helps you adapt accordingly. One way of collecting feedback is by allowing our readers to leave comments on your content. However, this can result in the duplication of content. As more users leave comments, your website may create multiple pages. Using the Yoast plug-in will prevent the indexing of these additional pages. Alternatively, you can disable the function altogether.
  4. Always perform regular check-ups of your website
    Your website will need maintenance from time to time. Use Google Search Console to help you identify any duplicates. In the console, you will find a detailed user guide that informs you of which errors to look for and how to fix them. You can also check whether you are a victim of scraping or syndication from external sites. An external assessment is necessary as you may be losing out on traffic without knowing it. A quick search of text on Google or using a plagiarism tool can help you identify the culprit. Depending on the results, you can ask the owner to link to your original site or ask them to remove the content from their site.

As you go about formulating an online content strategy, also put in place a policy on duplicate content. Proper vigilance and action from your end will determine how well you perform on the web.

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