Duplicate content is everywhere on the Internet. And as the most searched term on our website, we wanted to offer some advice on the topic.
According to Google, 25 to 30 percent of the web’s content is duplicate content. Chances are you have some lurking on your site, right now.
The question is: Does it matter?
Yes, it does. In much the way weeding your garden clears space for your delicious vegetables to grow, keeping duplicate content at a minimum allows you to focus on creating quality content.
Reap the Rewards of Original Content
Remember, Google doesn’t penalize sites for having duplicate content. But it does reward sites that have quality content.
So what exactly is duplicate content? Well, it could be a printer-friendly version of an existing webpage. Or a page selling clogs on gardeners.com in both the footwear and the new arrivals categories. It can even be that clogs product page on Amazon, Zappos and three other sites, if each site has the same product description.
Basically duplicate content is any block of writing that matches another block of writing somewhere else on the Internet.
Google and other search engines try to filter out duplicate content for a couple of reasons. First, they don’t want to use valuable server resources to crawl and index several copies of identical pages. Second, they want to fill search results with a variety of distinctive pages that will leave their searchers satisfied.
In both cases, the search engine is making decisions about the duplicate pages it finds. Which version is the definitive one? Which copy should I index? Which page should I offer up?
Most of the time, the search engines make a decent decision. But not always.
When to Fix Duplicate Content
While some duplicate content will remain out of your control, here are three cases in which you can (and should) eliminate duplicate content.
1. If a URL you don’t like outranks your preferred page
Perhaps the Google search is pointing customers, not to your best-selling gunmetal gray laptop case, but to the experimental honey mustard yellow one. Then, you need to think about canonicalization, or using tags to indicate which duplicate page should get the preference in a search. Google also offers solutions for dealing with the duplicate URLs generated by ecommerce features like sessionIDs, for instance, which create custom experiences for shoppers.
2. If updates to your website aren’t appearing in search results in a timely fashion
As search engine architect Marianne Sweeny told content26, duplicate content is the flotsam and jetsam of the Internet. If your site is littered with redundant pages, you could be squandering valuable Google crawl time. Because each site has a crawl budget, Google may move on before it finds and indexes your new content. Look at the number of pages Google crawled versus indexed on your site to see if duplicate content is affecting you.
3. If you’re a manufacturer who wants its ecommerce site to rank before other retail distributors.
Content26 guest blogger Kate Morris suggests manufacturers post unique, dynamic product information on their ecommerce sites and then make sure it’s not repurposed. Since Google wants to serve up the highest quality information that answers a query, the site with the best stuff wins. If your site has the same product descriptions as affiliates, you leave it up to Google to choose which page ranks. But be sure you still offer distributors content that sells. Remember creating a rich environment of content across several sites means filling up search results pages with your products.
A Final Word about Quality
Since 2011, the algorithms powering Google have emphasized ranking high-quality content over thin, hastily produced content.
That’s content that’s written to help people and not to improve search engine rankings. Google defines high-quality content as content that can be trusted, that isn’t mass-produced, and that keeps the customer’s needs in mind. At the product level, content26 has been creating that kind of content for brands for nearly a decade.
Treat duplicate content like weeds: something you need to keep an eye on to ensure the strongest possible harvest. Remember that creating unique, high-quality content is your best bet for ensuring SEO success.