Search Engine Optimisation, better known as SEO, can be a bit of a minefield. From site speed to the content on your website – it all goes towards your search engine rankings. Duplicate content is one factor which is often overlooked, but what is duplicate content and how can it affect your SEO strategy?
What is duplicate content?
Duplicate content is content which appears in multiple locations on the web. Whether it is in the form of blog posts, on-page copy or e-commerce product descriptions, if the exact same – or very similar – copy appears on more than one web address, then it is considered as duplicate content.
What impact does duplicate content have on SEO?
It’s often thought that Google penalises websites for having duplicate content on their site, but this is not the case. However, that doesn’t mean that duplicate content doesn’t affect SEO.
Duplicate content can provide a range of issues for search engines. If there is identical content on two web pages, search engines will find it difficult to establish which page to rank higher than the other. It may mean the web page does not rank at all, especially if Google is unable to determine where the content was first published.
Additionally, if you’ve got duplicate content on your site, it can dilute your link profile. This is due to the fact that inbound links (a ranking factor) will be across multiple pages as opposed to being directed to one piece of content. It can also affect the link metrics, including authority, anchor text and link equity as the search engine is unable to determine which page they should be directed to.
Finally, one of the main issues presented by duplicate content is decreasing the user experience on site. The whole rationale behind Google rankings is to maximise user experience by ranking the most relevant, user-friendly sites above others. However, duplicate content can lead to a reduction in ranking, resulting in a loss of traffic and conversions.
How to avoid duplicate content
So we’ve established why you want to avoid duplicate content on your website, but how can it be avoided? There are a few steps you can take to ensure that the content on your site is original.
One of the first steps you can take to avoid duplicate content is to focus on high-quality, expert content. Although it may be a laborious task, having each page written by a professional copywriter will help to avoid internal duplicate content. Additionally, writing bespoke content for each new page on a site will give each page the very best chance of ranking.
If it’s necessary to have the same content across a range of pages, for example, a HTML version and a PDF version, then you can let Google know that duplication was intentional by using a ‘rel=canonical’ tag. By using this tag on each duplicate page, you will canonicalise the page you want to rank for, maximising your SEO efforts. Additionally, a ‘noindex’ tag can be used to prevent Google from indexing any duplicate pages when a ‘rel=canonical’ tag is not appropriate.
It’s important to consider that duplicate content is confusing for search engines, which will never work in your site’s favour. Therefore, it’s vital to have a solid content and SEO strategy in place to ensure each page is unique and give it the very best chance of ranking. Have you got any burning SEO questions? Tweet us and let us know.