Does Duplicate Content affect your search ranking?

08 October 2014
Published: By: Becky Dudley

It goes without saying that you have to create unique and genuine content for your website, to make it work in favour with your SEO. Using the same news story as several other websites, for example, isn’t a problem but if your content is ‘spammy duplicate’, being mentioned word-for-word on hundreds of other websites, Search Engines will pick and choose the version of the content that is most likely to be original, all in the name of providing the best search experience.

One of the greatest myths in the industry is that Search Engines looks at duplicate content the wrong way and then slaps it with a ‘Duplicate Content Penalty’. Google have denied that such a penalty exists, and while this released statement has given authors a bit of breathing space, it can still hurt your website’s rankings.

So from the beginning – What is Duplicate Content? Well, quite obviously, duplicate content is content that shows up on the Internet in more than one place. Which is why it’s so damaging to your company’s SEO. It makes if difficult for Search Engines to determine which version of the content is the most relevant to the search query, and will start picking apart your other SEO-damaging factors.

One of the most important questions we have to ask ourselves is: When is Duplicate Content actually bad? Well simply, don’t stress out about slight content duplications, unless said content is spammy (in Google’s eyes) or keyword stuffing. Having said that, having duplicate content isn’t worthy of action by Google or other relevant search engine, unless it’s apparent that the content is trying to deceive the search engine and manipulate the search results. If Google really feel that you’re trying too hard to manipulate search results, then they might take action against your site by removing it completely from the rankings, and in which case, duplicate content is a symptom of spamming, which is the reason that your site would be removed.

Many search engines write small disclaimers over search results, along the lines of: “In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries similar to the search results displayed below.” This is often used by search engines to prove to searches that they want to provide you with a varied results group, instead of pages 1 to 100 of the same results.

What can you do about Duplicate Content? – Avoid duplicating content in the first place. The surefire way to make sure that you don’t get flagged is to not do it in the first place. One of the dangers when creating quality content, is to shop around for inspiration, but by doing so, are allowing yourself to stick to another website’s content as a guideline/benchmark, and before you know it, you’ll have reworded everything that they’ve written.

Other solutions to this problem, include:

• Not creating Duplicate Content
• As explained above, but often caused by petty snags that can be easily fixed.
• Session ID’s in URL’s
• Duplicate Printer-Friendly pages
• Comment Pagination in WordPress
• Parameter Order
• Link Tracking Issues
• WWW vs. non-WWW – claiming domain names.
• 301 Redirecting Duplicate Content
• Adding Canonical Link Elements to the Duplicate Page
• Adding HTML links from Duplicate page to Canonical Page
• Basically, cite the genuine content.

So, now you’re very much aware of Duplicate Content, its issues, what can happen as a result, and how to avoid it, you really have nothing to fear. Google, amongst other search engines, is well aware that content duplication happens, whether it’s intentional or completely accidental.

By making sure that you do all that you can to avoid duplicating content, you increase your chances of ranking as a canonical content source on searches. We know that these fixes can take time, but if it takes time, it’s obviously worth it – and it’s worth doing right. Fixing the issues highlighted in this post can generate an unholy amount of Return on Investment, and the rewards will be plentiful. Your unique content could soar up the ranking by just highlighting these issues and remove any duplicate content on your site!

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