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Duplicate content and what it means in SEO

We suspect that duplicate content, also known as copied content, will become one of the biggest SEO issues businesses will face. SERP competition is fierce, and one great way to get ahead of the competition is to offer the internet truly unique content. Not only does Google love this, but your potential customers will too.

What is duplicate content and why does it matter?

duplicate content in SEO

Duplicate content is the same content, for instance a blog post or product description, that appears in more than one place on the internet (i.e. at more than one URL). Duplicate content can be a technical SEO issue as it can relate to incorrect canonicalisation and it can directly affect your rankings on Google. We often see this “copied content” issue on e-commerce client websites, where product or category descriptions are pulled from manufacturers’ specifications - just like all other e-commerce sites from the same niche, making content duplicated across several websites.  

So why is duplicate content bad, you might ask?

As mentioned, it can directly affect your rankings as Google no longer knows which URL to prioritise for the same content- it also carries the risk of a google penalty. Although a certain amount of duplication is acceptable, having duplicate content on your website usually impairs your site’s visibility on search engines.

How can I check for duplicate content?

A quick and easy way to check for copied content is to take a chunk of text from a page on your site (you’ll want to repeat this for a few different pages), and search for this chunk of text on google- making sure you wrap it quotation marks. If several results appear, with the same terms bolded in the meta description, this means your content can be found at different URLs (or even in different places on your own site) and should be re-written.

 

Some things to keep in mind when checking for duplicate content on your site:

  • If another website is ranking above you for a sentence or phrase taken directly from one of your pages, this is a strong sign that Google sees that website as the original author of the content. Not only can your content be found elsewhere but you were not first to publish it.

  • Is there a reason your content is being copied? For example if you are part of an affiliate network, websites selling your products might use your content but link back to your page as the original/source. You should see your site ranking in first position when checking for duplicate content in such cases.

  • Check to see if the duplicate page(s) use canonical tags. If so, do they point to your page? Doing so would tell Google that your content was the original.

 

How can duplicate content issues be fixed?

Duplicate content can be fixed either by redirecting a duplicated page to the original using a 301 redirect (if the duplication is on your own website). You must also take a look at your canonicalisation and pagination set up as technical SEO issues here can cause duplicate content problems.

If your content has been copied, or you are using the same chunks of content as other websites (such as product descriptions) these will need to be re-written - especially if you are being outranked by these other sites. Providing original and genuinely useful content will give you an edge over these competitors that use the same content as every other site in their industry. If you need help with this, find out more about our expert content marketing services.

This is where it becomes useful to use an SEO company, we can not only identify the exact issues causing duplication, but fix them with the resources that many businesses do not have to spare.

Rewriting content, particularly product or category descriptions which can be thousands of pages for some e-commerce sites, is time-consuming and resource-draining. We have an excellent team of content marketing specialists and technical SEO experts ready to tackle duplication issues for you.

Reboot have worked with a number of clients who have this exact problem, the results of replacing copied content with something unique have been remarkable. Read our case studies on how we dealt with duplicate content problems here and here.

If you’re worried your content might be holding you back- please contact us, or take a look at the other digital marketing services we offer.

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