Duplicate content is bad. Just like breaching copyright law or cheating at the university (plagiarizing your friend’s work). Google, in this case, the authority which will penalize your website for duplicate content practices by lowering your rankings or completely removing duplicate content from Google’s database.
I realize that there’s a lot of good articles on duplicate content out there but I wanted to write one as a reminder of this commonly overlooked issue. In this post also want to bring up the issue of unintentional duplicate content.
What is duplicate content?
Duplicate content according to Google generally refers to “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar”. For example:
- two pages on your website are almost exactly the same
- two pages on your other website are almost exactly the same (mirror website)
Duplicate content issues come in two forms: intentional (spam) or unintentional (failure to recognize existing rules). Intentional duplicate content happens when your site copies information from another site. Unintentional duplicate content usually occurs when a site has failed to recognize certain usability rules.
Unintended duplicate content issues
Some duplicate content issues may not even happen intentionally. Here’s a list of most common unintentional issues.
Canonical URL issue
Your website is loading for both www.yoursite.com and yoursite.com. In this case Google sees your website as two different websites with the same content.
If your site has printer friendly page versions without proper redirects created, then you might have a duplicate content issue. Google sees that there are two pages (web version AND printer-friendly version) that exist together on the website.
Your business is servicing various locations and you buy a number of domains such as businessname-calgary.com, businessname-edmonton.com, businessname-banff.com, etc.. The content on those sites is exactly the same except for the city name at the beginning or the end of the titles, headings and descriptions. Google sees two different websites with very similar content.
Deal with common duplicate content issues
There’s a number of ways to deal with duplicate content. Here’s a number of things you can do to spot and fix duplicate content.
- Check your pages for similarity. Anything over 75-85% similarity may trigger as a duplicate content issue.
- Read about SEO best practices as it relates to duplicate content from SEOmoz.
- Follow Google’s advice on avoiding duplicate content issues.