What is Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content refers to identical or very similar content that exists across multiple pages or websites. This is problematic for SEO when search engines have trouble determining which source to show in results.

Why Duplicate Content Hurts Rankings

Search engines aim to display the one most useful, authoritative result for a user’s query. When multiple identical versions exist, it creates confusion. Should all get indexed? Which should rank highest?

Duplicate content dilutes potential rankings power across sources. It also raises questions of originality and expertise. Would an authoritative site publish unoriginal work?

Bottom line: duplicate content typically leads to lower visibility or exclusion from search results.

Common Causes of Duplicate Content

There are a few common ways duplicate content happens:

  • Republishing existing content verbatim on your own site.
  • Scraping or copying content from other sites.
  • Having multiple regional/language versions with same text.
  • Generating similar content across channels (blog, social, etc).
  • Syndicating content to other sites without proper tracking.
  • Boilerplate text like website footers replicated across pages.

Best Practices For Avoiding Duplicates

Follow these guidelines to keep content original:

  • Produce truly unique content for each page and purpose. Don’t rehash existing info.
  • If re-using content in part, rewrite and add new value. Link to original source.
  • Implement 301 redirects so there is one canonical URL for each piece of content.
  • Add rel=”canonical” tags to signal the definitive URL version.
  • Change up boilerplate text like footer content across sections of site.
  • When syndicating, use tracking links so signals flow back.
  • Translate content for local versions vs. just copying text.

Dealing with Duplicate Content Issues

If you find duplicate content problems:

  • Do a site-wide audit to identify all duplicated text blocks or pages.
  • Eliminate less important versions. Consolidate content.
  • Rewrite/update existing content by adding new info.
  • Add canonical tags or redirects to original or preferred version.
  • De-index or noindex duplicates until fixed.

Duplicate Content Won’t Disappear

Avoiding and actively managing duplicate content is an ongoing effort as your site grows. Continuously check for new issues via site audits. Duplicate content isn’t a penalty – it’s just a sign to search engines that you may not have the most unique or authoritative version. Making your content stand out is key.

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