If you’re a website owner, you know that it’s vital that you get your content as high up in the search engine rankings as it can get. Otherwise, no one is going to view your web pages, and that means no one is going to buy what you’re selling. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a term that anybody who has web content knows and knows well. In fact, SEO experts are playing a vital role these days in optimizing content, as page rankings, key words, and quality content become more important than ever. The first thing you want for your website is to get a high ranking from one of the big search engines like Google. And the last thing you want is for your content to lose its high ranking, or never get to the top in the first place. Sometimes duplicate content just happens, and webmasters don’t know it. However, sometimes it’s purposeful, and this is considered malicious.
Duplicate content is content appearing in more than one domain or within the same domain. It can happen by accident, or it can be a deliberate attempt to manipulate search engines. When a webmaster has substantial blocks of identical or greatly similar content across varied domains, it can cause your website problems and lower its page rankings. The simple fact is that users want the information they glean from their searches to be diverse and relevant, and duplicate content can keep that from happening.
There are several reasons why duplicate content can show up on your web pages. Some non-malicious duplications can happen with multiple pages all on the same website. For instance, if your site has two identical forms and one of these is the printer-friendly version, this is considered duplicate content. Often, Google will eliminate your site’s printer-friendly version from its page rankings. Another form of duplicate content that can appear on more than one page of your website is if you have product information that is copied or similar from one page to another. Google recommends that you bypass problems with this issue by using a canonical link element to tell Googlebot which is the preferred location.
There are times that duplicate content is considered malicious. A perfect example of this is duplicate content that is stolen from another site and copied and pasted to its own site. Content is copied and pasted all day long on the internet, but it must either be made substantially unique or, if it remains the same or largely the same, credit must be given to the original site with a link to it. However, sometimes content is copied and pasted to another site with no credit given to the originator. This is considered plagiarism. It clearly is an unethical practice and a violation of internet and search engine rules. Search engine algorithms penalize sites that have stolen content. Unfortunately, the reverse can also happen. Other sites can copy what you have created and paste to their own without linking to your site. In such a case, your site can get penalized for having duplicate content, regardless of the fact that it is your original work. Google wants users to know this is rare, and Google is getting better at spotting this situation and identifying which site is the thief and which is the original source. To avoid such a scenario, however, website owners can take parts of their own content and copy them into Google using the ‘exact’ search technique, this means surrounding a search with quotation marks. If you find that another site has stolen your content, you should contact that site to let them know you’ve discovered the breach.
There are instances when spammers will duplicate content in a site, either to put an ad in front of users or even to steal content and publish it elsewhere in order to sell it as an e-book. In these cases, Google will either take it out or reduce the page’s rankings. Any type of malicious duplicate content that is purposefully placed on two different URLs, often in an attempt to manipulate search results or drive traffic, is considered unethical by search engines and can be dealt with harshly.
Naturally, SEO is important to everyone who has a website. And, because unique and relevant content is vital to your business, keeping your website free of duplicate content is very important. There are several means of dealing with and eliminating duplicate content. One way is to contact an SEO expert to help you clean up your website and increase your page rankings. Quality content can be the difference between a high page ranking with loads of traffic, and your website ending up on a page buried deep inside search engine results.