Firstly, we will talk about what we understand by ‘duplicate content’. A content that appears in more than one place on the Internet is known as ‘duplicate content’. We define that ‘place’ with a unique resource locator (URL), so if a the content appears on more than one website, then you will have to understand that your content is duplicate.
Duplicate contents directly impact the search engine rankings. When more than one website has the same content on the Internet, then the search engines will have difficulty in deciding which content is the most relevant to the queries that are being searched.
Why Does Duplicate Content Matter?
Duplicate content matters for both website owners and search engines.
Website owners suffer losses of search engine rankings and online traffic. The two main reasons why these losses occur are:
- Search engines do not usually show several versions of the same content to present the best experience of searching. Search engines are compelled to choose a version they think is appropriate. This system reduces the transparency of all duplicate contents.
- As other sites also must choose between the duplicates, link equity gets diluted even more. Inbound links point to several content pieces instead of pointing to the original one, which causes link equity to decrease.
One of the search ranking factors are inbound links, therefore duplicate contents reduce a content’s search visibility.
Duplicate contents on the Internet create the following issues for search engines:
- Search engines are unaware of the original content and do not know which one they should include and which one they should exclude.
- Search engines do not understand whether the link metrics should be directed towards one content or towards multiple contents.
- They are confused about which content they should rank first based on the search query.
In other words, contents do not reach the audience it originally would.
How does the issue of duplicate content occur?
In the majority of cases, duplicate content is not created intentionally by website owners. But that does not mean that duplicate content does not exist.
How Are Duplicate Content Created?
Let’s talk about a few typical ways of how duplicate content is created unintentionally:
- URL variations:
Issues of duplicate content can be created by URL parameters, for example, analytic codes and click tracking. Not only the URL parameters can cause this issue, but the order of the URL in which the parameters appear can also cause the issue of duplicate content.
- Session IDs:
Most eCommerce websites allow customers to put items in the cart at the same time as they look through other pages. Session IDs, unique to each user, store this data. A new URL is typically created by adding this session ID to the existing URL, which can be used by the users to access that website. These individual URLs are identified as duplicate content.
- WWW/non-WWW or HTTP/HTTPS pages:
If a website has two different addresses such as one with the ‘www’ prefix and one without it, and if both the addresses have the same content published then one of them is successfully considered as duplicate content. The same system applies to a website that handles addresses with both https:// and http://. The owner will be caught up in an issue of duplicate content if both addresses are visible and accessible to search engines.
- Copied or scraped content:
Pages that include information about products are also considered as content along with blogs and editorial content. One of the most known ways of duplicate content is of scrapers copying content and uploading it on their website. But this proves to be a common issue in the world of eCommerce as many sellers deal with the same products, therefore the product description might be the same, which is generally provided by the supplier or the manufacturer. Identical writing can be found on different site due to this.
How can the issue of duplicate content be fixed?
The issue of duplicate content being fixed comes to an essential step, determining which content is the original one. Whenever the same content appears on various URLs, it must be canonicalized for the search engines.
There are three primary ways of fixing duplicate content. These are:
- 301 redirect:
In the majority of cases of the cases, setting up a 301 redirect to the original content from the duplicate content is known to be the best way of dealing with it.
When several websites have the ability to rank in a good position on the search engine ranking is redirected to a single website, they create a relevant signal, decreases competition, and improves the ranking of the original content.
Using the rel=canonical attribute is another way of dealing with duplicate content. This way informs the search engines that a specific page must be treated as if it is a copy of a mentioned URL, and that mentioned URL should receive all the credit for all content metrics, links, and ranking.
- Meta Robot Noindex:
Meta robots is a meta tag that can be used successfully to deal with duplicate contents, when it is used with the “noindex, follow” values. It is usually known as Meta Noindex, Follow and is technically called content=“noindex, follow”.
This meta tag is added to the HTML head of the pages that the search engine’s index must exclude.
In this article, we have let you know what duplicate content is, why we should avoid duplicate contents, how to detect duplicate content and how to fix it.