Duplicate content is an issue that can inadvertently affect your website. This can happen even if you aren’t trying to manipulate the search engine results pages by using sneaky blackhat techniques. Let’s discuss some actionable ways you can tackle duplicate content to improve your SEO.
What Is Duplicate Content?
Google is the ultimate authority on what they perceive as being duplicate content. Google defines duplicate content as the content found on different web pages that exactly matches or is substantially similar.
Why Should You Avoid Having Duplicate Content?
Google wants to give users an efficient and straightforward experience when searching their index. They’re concerned that users will not want to search through multiple pages that contain the same information. If multiple pages contain the same information, their goal is to choose the best one of those pages to present to the user.
Google chooses to display a page that is not the one you want users to find. Content thieves can steal one of your articles and Google might index the stolen content instead of yours.
8 Actionable Ways to Tackle Duplicate Content for Your SEO
If you want to be assured that duplicate content won’t harm your website’s rankings in the search engine results pages, perform these 8 crucial checks. Then take action to improve your site’s architecture in any areas where it may be creating duplicate content issues.
1. Solve the Problems Created by Using Multiple Versions of the Same URL
If you use the HTTPS protocol on your website, you’re likely to have duplicate content resulting from both the HTTPS and the HTTP versions of your website. This can also be an issue if you have pages that utilize “www” in the URL plus pages without the www. For example, if you have both http://yoursite.com/help.html and http://www.yoursite.com/help.html, that could create duplicate content issues on your website.
This can also happen if you use ads on your site and you also include ad-free, printer-friendly pages with different URLs but the same exact content.
There are four steps you can take to solve these issues:
- Implement a 301 redirect for any such pages that you no longer need to have live on your website; redirect old not-in-use pages to the most current existing version of the page.
- Add a noindex tag to any duplicated pages such as printer-friendly pages that you do not want the search engines to include in their indexes.
- Use Google Search Console to specify which domain is the domain you want them to use.
- Use a sitemap or the rel=”canonical” attribute to communicate your preferred URLs.
2. Beat the Content Thieves to Banish Unauthorized Duplicate Content
Content thieves could create duplicate content issues for your website in numerous ways. One of the most common approaches is that they’ll use ‘bots to scrape your site; then they’ll either post a copy of the same exact content on their own site or run it through a content spinner to create a substantially similar version. The content spinner is used in an attempt to fool the search engines into thinking the resulting article is unique content.
There is no foolproof way to protect your website from this type of behavior. However, there are tricks you can use to make it harder for scrapers to access and use your work.
First, check for content thieves periodically. You can do this by copying a sentence in quotes from your content into the Google search engine; then look at the sites that show up in the search engine results pages. Alternatively, you could use the tools offered by Copyscape to check for unauthorized copies of your content.
When your work gets stolen by content thieves, you can notify Google to remove it from their index via the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Next code your site with absolute URLs instead of relative URLs. Are you wondering why this is an effective strategy? When a content thief scrapes a site coded using absolute URLs, they would have to take the additional step of changing out each link on the page. Many content thieves are too lazy to do this.
3. Redirect Old Subdomains You’re No Longer Using
301 redirects are the preferred way to explain to Google that your web page has permanently moved. The redirects will also help to preserve any benefits your site may have from inbound links to the old pages on the subdomain.
4. Block Crawlers’ Access to Areas of Your Website That Aren’t Ready for Public Viewing
When you need to revamp your website, you might have two similar versions of your pages live online during the renovation process. Be sure to noindex the new pages of your site until they are ready for public viewing. At that point, be sure to remove the noindex tags and then 301 redirect the old pages to point them to the newly updated pages.
5. Use Parameter Handling Appropriately
Dynamic parameters can create bunches of confusing duplicate content issues that prevent the search engine spiders from crawling your site efficiently. You can stop this from happening by using parameter handling.
6. Use Location Targeting Instead of Duplicating the Same Content for Users in Different Locations
Perhaps your website reaches visitors in several different states or countries, so you have several different versions of the same content with the only substantial difference being the location mentioned in the text. In cases like this, it could be preferable to apply location targeting to reach these visitors instead.
7. Take Precautions When Syndicating Content
Google recommends linking from syndicated content to the original article. Google also recommends requesting that syndicated content be noindexed.
8. Consolidate Articles That Are Substantially Similar
If you have two similar articles on your site, condense them into one article and use 301 redirects pointing to the new article.
Need Professional Help?
If you need professional assistance with tackling duplicate content for your SEO, call us at +1 (888) 518-3718. You can also reach us through our web form on the SEO services page of our website. We’ll apply our expertise to deal with any problematic areas of your website, including duplicate content problems. Our experts optimize your site efficiently and get you on your way to achieving better rankings for your website.