How Does Google Treat Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content may be an issue for your website and you don’t even know it. SEO, or search engine optimization, is key for every website. You’ve worked hard to get your content as valuable and relevant as possible, but if you’ve got duplicate content, your page rankings can suffer, and that’s not good for your business. Naturally, you want your websites to get as high up on the search engine results as possible, and duplicate content can keep that from happening. If you’ve got duplicate content on websites, it can work against you in the search engines. Here’s information about the types of non-malicious duplicate content and how Google treats it.

Definition of Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is content that appears on the internet in more than one domain or within the same domain. It often occurs when website owners have substantial blocks of content across different domains that are either identical in content or, more commonly, largely the same. Duplicate content is kind of like having two employees who do the exact same thing for your company, are working in the same office together, and are always fighting with each other. In the end, they don’t even get one job done, let alone two. Although there is a lot of duplicate content on the web that is not malicious or spammy, a lot of it does contain spam, and therein lies part of the problem. Another problem with duplicate content is that users want diversity of information, and that means that search engines also want diversity.

Different types of duplicate content

According to Matt Cutts, head of the Web spam team at Google, nearly 30 percent of all internet content is duplicate content. There are several forms of duplicate content. Some of them are intentional and necessary, while many others are not only unintentional; they are detrimental to your page ranking. The most common types of duplicate content are domain issues, copied data, printer-friendly versions, and duplicate product information.

Domain issues

Domain, or URL, issues are also referred to as ‘circular navigation.’ This happens when you have multiple paths across websites. It can happen when you have the same content that can be accessed through multiple domains or URLs, but the domains are only slightly different. When your site has similar domains that all point to pages that are identical, the duplicate content that occurs across these pages can cause you problems with your page rankings. Google considers this a dilution of link popularity. In other words, multiple links are dividing your views. Google automatically determines that these are the same because of the duplicate content. Therefore, Google collapses them together in the search results, showing only one URL. Google has to pick just one URL and, though they try to choose the best one, the truth is that the only person who knows which is best is the website owner.

Copied data

When a user copies and pastes data they’ve found on a website and posts the content to their own website verbatim with a link back to its origin, this creates duplicate content on the web. A huge amount of information that shows up on the internet as duplicate content is simply copied and pasted from one site to another. Google will delete this type of duplicated content, so you should include a ‘canonical tag’ to fix this issue. This is a tag placed in the code of the page that will tell Google that you are not actually duplicating the content, but only sharing it.

Printer-friendly versions

Many websites have duplicate content in the form of a display copy and a printer-friendly version. In fact, most informative sites, especially those created by employers and government agencies; employ this tool for forms and other documents. This is a pretty necessary tool for websites, and the duplication can’t really be eliminated. Google will eliminate the printer-friendly version from its page rankings because it sees it as the same content.

Duplicate product information

Duplicate product information typically shows up on ecommerce websites that are designed in the form of a catalogue where consumers can peruse items that are for sale. The duplication comes in when manufacturers’ item descriptions are used to describe merchandise, and often when the same product is associated with multiple categories. This is a form of duplicate content that is necessary and vital for online catalogues. In this case, Google suggests that site owners sidestep this problem by using a canonical link element. This is an HTML tag that tells Google’s search engines which location is the preferred location for a particular URL. This way, the search engine will ignore some pages, only paying attention to the indexed page.

Duplicate content can sink your page views, but there are ways to fix it. If you’re not sure how to go about working out all your duplicate content, an SEO expert is a great place to get assistance with this and other web issues that are keeping your page from its deserved high rankings.

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