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The Correct Way To Handle Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is a very popular issue today seen on many websites. It happens more often on the more sizable sites with numerous pages, but still, there are cases of intentional duplication too met on smaller ones. Let us consider whether a duplicate content is something wrong and how one can solve the issue.

Definition And Types Of Duplicate Content:

A couple or several pieces of the same content shown on the different URLs or domains is known as duplicate one. There are two main types of duplicate content:

  1. Onsite (internal) duplication means that a copied content is used on two or more pages of one website.
  2. Offsite (external) one is referred to the same content displayed on various websites.

Both these types a problematic and if the first problem can be solved by the website administrator, the second one may bring about more troubles.

Pros And Cons Of Duplicate Content:

Though somebody may think that there is nothing bad about duplicate content as it is much easier to find it, not everything is that simple. Search engines usually look for the most relevant search query and if there are multiple versions of the same page, they might choose only one of them and not one meant by the website owners. Duplication also results in problems with indexing the right page and that causes lower rankings and lack of traffic.

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At the same time, if it is an offsite duplication, Google might exclude duplicated sites from search result choosing only one “original” version. This version will be identified by Google and there is no guarantee that it will choose the right one.

There is also a threat to be penalized by Google because of duplications. Deliberately created cross-domain content may result in violations of the guidelines and bring about great troubles.

Causes Of Duplicate Content:

Depending on the type of duplicate content there are different causes of its appearance.
Onsite similarities may be the reason of:

  1. URL parameters can cause duplication because of the presence of different marketing campaign, analytics IDs or used advertisement.
  2. Print version or PDF version of the website URL.
  3. Use of various domain structures as well as non-consistent ones (combinations of small and capital letters, trailing slashes etc.).
  4. Session IDs with random generation of numbers.
  5. Availability of a sorting option: a newly created page with the same content.
  6. Affiliate codes.

Offsite duplication may appear because of:

  1. The content creator’s actions: copying of other people’s texts, no plagiarism check, automated data feed etc.
  2. Use of the same content on various channels in different languages.
  3. The presence of partnership that results in using the same texts.
  4. Deliberate unauthorized copying of your text by third parties.


Identifying Duplicate Content:

There are several simple ways to identify the presence of duplicate content and again, they are different because of the duplication type. Zoom will be helpful for learning about and duplications within one website. All the internal duplicates are detected automatically if you go to “Content” button. There you will also see all the URLs that contain similar content.

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Google Webmaster Tools is suitable for both internal and external duplicates. Having pasted several sentences from your website into the site command and received a message that you were shown only relevant results but there are ones omitted too, be sure to have some duplications. Another way is to enter “HTML improvements” in the Search Appearance menu to see the pages with the same content.

There are also some useful site crawlers including Xenu or Screaming Frog that might crawl some of your pages and detect problems with content.

But the most reasonable way is to use credible plagiarism checkers (Copyscape, Noplag etc.) as they will undoubtedly find copy-pasted pieces and show links to the sources with duplications. Moreover, you will also see whether your content is decent and unique to avoid possible downrankings.

Ways To Cope With Duplications:

If you came to the conclusion that there is duplicate content either onsite or offsite, there several solutions to this trouble:

  1. 301 Redirect will take your customers to new relevant URLs.
  2. Meta Tags can prevent some particular pages from being indexed by search engines.
  3. Canonical Tag signifies the search engine a relevant page in accordance to specific queries.
  4. Be consistent in keeping the internal linking.
  5. Prefer top-level domains with a specific for a country content.
  6. Search Console will tell Google the preferred domain.
  7. Use summaries and links to the original texts instead of repetition.
  8. Learn the peculiarities of your content management system.
  9. Minimize duplications.
  10. Inform Google about stolen or unauthorized content.
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Though duplicate content seems a minor trouble for website owners, there are cases when it can result in huge problems. Apart from the great loss of visitors and traffic, it can subject your website to Google penalties and these issues are rather difficult to handle. If you want to avoid troubles with duplications and similarities and be always a priority in search results, check your content regularly using hints mentioned above and solve any issues timely for you not to experience any problems that might appear.

Alexandra FosterAbout the Author:

Alexandra Foster is an ex-English teacher who helps parents/students and organizations with educational planning. She is a tech savvy, who loves to write about education, technology, and marketing. Currently working with team as a consultant.

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