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Duplicate Content: How It Impacts Your SEO

Header image - Duplicate content How it impacts your SEO

Duplicate content issues can be caused for a variety of reasons, which on Google and search engines can impact where the web page ranks in the search results.

If it isn’t clear to Google which is the original content, it can result in the incorrect page appearing for the search query. This could impact overall on your rankings and traffic coming to your website from visitors.

Our blog post will look at what duplicate content is and how it impacts your search engine optimisation.

We will also cover within our blog some of the common causes of duplicate content and how to avoid duplicate content going forward for your website.

This includes methods such as parameter handling, using canonical tag, redirects and ensuring to use unique content wherever possible. Firstly lets look at what we mean when referring to duplicate content on websites.

Ben Webster

Creative director at 1PCS. Addicted to design, SEO, pizza and helping companies big and small succeed online.

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What Is Duplicate Content?

Google defines duplicate content as “duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin.”

It is worth noting, duplicate content also refers to other content issues, such as similar content. This could be where only a few changes have been made to the content, but the overall content has identical parts. Google and search engines can easily spot duplicate content and exact copies.

Action would occur if the duplicate content was intended to manipulate the search engine results on Google. It is referred to as copied content by Google which typically is down to using existing content in a deceptive way to try and get a higher ranking. This would likely have a negative impact on rankings in the search results and overall traffic coming to your website.

Duplicate content How it impacts your SEO - What is duplicate content

Impact To SEO

Google and other search engines want to ensure the search experience is positive for users, therefore pages and content is indexed to help with ranking when a user enters a search query. To give the user what Google believes to be the most useful and helpful answers to the search query. We cover some of the myths of SEO on another blog post.

A common problem is if there are multiple pages with duplicating content issues. This can mean sometimes one page is showed in the results over another, which may not be your preferred page. 

Typically multiple pages with duplicated content won’t be shown at the same time in the search engines, the one Google deems most relevant would be shown in the search results.

Therefore this can lead to an impact to rank positioning on Google. If your original page isn’t what is always shown in the search engine results, with some traffic going to one page and some to another. For websites this can have an overall impact on rankings and traffic from the right visitors.

Quality Content

Whilst there are technical causes to duplicate content which below we will look at some methods to help with avoiding the duplicate content issues. Although it may seem obvious, it is important on your own site to make sure you are always using original content.

SEO content duplication can occur from trying to cram keywords on the same website causing duplicate copies of content. When updating existing pages, adding new pages or writing blog posts aiming to use original content is the goal to avoid accidental duplicate content.

Content should be written with the end visitor in mind, giving them solutions to their problems, which will keep them on your website for longer or they could become a returning visitor. This is what will benefit your SEO. Writing content purely to try and boost rankings can lead to a negative impact if not done correctly.

Multiple URLs

One of the main issues of technically duplicate content is multiple versions of the same content due to it appearing on multiple URLs, which may be unintended. Examples of when this would typically happen is duplicate versions for: HTTP and HTTPS, with WWW. and without and for pages which have a trailing slash at the end of a URL.

There isn’t anything wrong with this happening e.g. one should be used over the other. It is personal preference. However if multiple URLs are being used unnecessarily it can impact on your SEO results when it could be avoided.

As a business it would be worth reviewing to ensure across each department the preferred domain is agreed and preference for how each url is written. So the same url is used where possible for consistency going forward for example, when including internal links. As part of this ensure to decide if using WWW. or no WWW. to avoid unintentionally creating duplicate pages.

Parameter Handling

An important task to get the most from your search engine optimisation efforts is on your website to check for duplicate content. One of the main problems that can occur particularly for an ECommerce sites is the URL parameters. This happens when needing to create URL variations for products, for example for different colours and specs on the ECommerce site.

Google could as a result index different versions of the URL which could impact your SEO. Therefore ensuring the URL parameters are set up correctly is an important tool when reviewing duplicated content issues. 

This applies to all websites not just ECommerce sites. Parameter handling can help with clearly detailing to Google how the website should be crawled in an effective manner to benefit your SEO.

Duplicate content How it impacts your SEO - Parameter Handling

Find Duplicate Content

When identifying a duplicate page, we recommend identifying which should be the original page. There are then a few methods which can be implemented so that search engines know which page is to be indexed as the original page.

This includes the use of a canonical tag. This is a piece of HTML code that will be clear to Google to treat that as the original page. An example of where this could be needed is for a main page and a printer friendly version.

Another useful tool to eliminate duplicate content issues is to use redirects with a 301 redirect, which would be from the page deemed as the duplicate page to the original page. In doing so this will help to avoid the duplicate pages from competing with one another, when in reality they are the same page.

How Can We Help?

We hope our blog post was helpful to learn more about the causes of duplicate content and how this can cause a negative impact on your SEO. It is important to have the right technical knowledge when addressing duplicate content on a website.

At 1PCS Creative we have been delivering SEO campaigns for over 20 years and have the right knowledge to help improve rankings and traffic coming to websites, most importantly from the right high quality visitors.

If you need support with your SEO, please feel free to get in touch to discuss with one of our team how we can help.


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Article By

Ben Webster

Creative director at 1PCS. Addicted to design, SEO, pizza and helping companies big and small succeed online

Need some help? Pop me an email [email protected]


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