What is duplicate content?

SEO can be a tricky business.

No one really knows the exact method Google uses to rank websites and content, it’s all part of the Google mystery!

But depending on how we structure our content can greatly improve or decrease are chances of having a successful ranking.

Duplicate content and copied content are all things we need to be aware to help with our rankings.

In this article we explain everything you need to know.

Duplicate Content – What is it?

It refers to your content that can be found on different locations, either on or off your website. It can be found on various URLs and often on other domain names. This usually occurs by accident or is a result from poor technical operations.

For example, your website might be available on www and non-www, or HTTP and HTTPS.

If this is the case for you, you’re certainly not alone. Duplicate content is EVERYWHERE on the internet.

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.”

The fact that Google states “this is not deceptive in origin”, implies that you won’t be penalised for having duplicate content. Phew!

Duplicate Content Vs Copied Content

Duplicate content is usually a result of technical error or the same content being used across multiple use of types of URLs.

Copied content is a whole new ball game and you will more than likely be penalised for it. Copied content is when you use text from an exisiting URL and rehash it to use in another piece of content. Even if you fill this new post out with a few extra keywords and change it a little, you’re going to get penalised for it.

Don’t do this!

Should You Block Duplicate Content on Your Website?

The short answer – no.

Google is well trained at finding and dealing with this. When Google discovers multiple versions of a page it will understand how to determine the best version of the page and condense the rest. Usually, the original article will become the page it decides to rank.

It’s important to note that Google needs access to all the URLs that may contain duplicate content. So you don’t want to be using programs such as Googlebot to block your content. If you do, Google will treat your duplicate content as seperate pages and you run the risk of Google viewing duplicate content as copied content!

Instead of using Googlebot, try these tips instead:

  • Allow robots to crawl these URLs
  • Mark the content as duplicate by using rel=canonical
  • Use Google’s URL Parameter Handling tool to determine how parameters should be handled
  • Make sure you use 301 redirects to send users and crawlers to the canonical URL

Use rel=canonical

The best way to combat duplicate content is to use rel=”canaonical”. This lets you dictate what the original URL is for a piece of content, otherwise known as canonical URL.

For more information on this, check out our post on rel=canonical: a guide to getting started.

For even more SEO advice and tools, click here.

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Have you experienced issues with duplicate content or copied content? We would love to hear from you in the comments!