A copy is always worth less than the original. Besides, having a copy of something else may cause trouble. This is especially true in the web development sphere. Read on to find out more about the problem of duplicate content and learn possible ways to solve it.
What is duplicate content?
This term speaks for itself. Duplicate content is content displayed in more than one place (URL) on the Internet. It can be completely or partly the same. How confusing for search engines! They have to deal with identical pieces and decide which version deserves to be indexed and shown in search results. You page may compete for Google’s attention with your competitors’, as well as with your other pages. Thus, duplicate content may lead to losses in rankings and traffic. Keep calm! It all can be fixed.
What causes duplicate content
Every solution starts with identifying the reason of the problem. Content duplication can be caused by different reasons, both human and technical. Let’s consider some of the most common ones.
- Content sharing. Your content may be shared to other websites with a syndication agreement, or even without your consent at all. Unfortunately, for various reasons, the search engines don’t always choose the original.
- User session IDs. When visiting your website, the users may be assigned different session IDs that generate new URLs. This leads to duplicate content.
- Printer-friendly versions. Printer-friendly may mean Google-unfriendly! If you have printer-friendly versions of your content, they may be viewed by Google as duplicate pages.
- WWW and non-WWW versions. If you have both WWW and the non-WWW versions of your site available with no 301 redirect, it may sometimes confuse the search engines.
- Architecture errors. Multiple paths leading to the same webpage may lead to for content duplication as well. For example:
- web addresses with get parameters (http://www.site.com/prod=1&type=6 leads to the same page http://www.site.com/type=6&prod=1);
- pagination pages (http://site.com/blog/?page=1, http://site.com/blog/?page=2, http://site.com/blog/?page=3);
- web addresses in different case registers (http://site.com/blog/duplicates, http://site.com/blog/DUBLICATES);
- web addresses with and without a slash (http://site.com/blog/duplicates, http://site.com/blog/duplicates/).
How to identify duplicate content
You can use the CopyScape tool to get a list of URLs with the same or similar content. This includes duplicate pages within your own website and on other websites.
Duplicate content solutions
Now let’s move on to the most useful ways of dealing with the duplicate content issue.
- 301 Redirect. Setting up a 301 redirect from the “duplicate” page to the proper, original page is the best solution in many cases.
- The rel="canonical" links. Using the rel=canonical link element tells the search engines that a duplicate page should be ignored and the canonical page is the one to give all the value to.
- The robot.txt (disallow) file. You can use the robots.txt file to block Google or other search engines from accessing the duplicate pages on your website.
- The noindex/nofollow tags. The noindex/nofollow meta tags are used to tell the search engines that the text or its part should not be indexed and the links should not be followed.
- Decide on the WWW. If you have both the WWW and the non-WWW versions of your pages, choose only one of these two options and use the redirect for the other.
- Careful content sharing. If you have content sharing agreements, their ways for you to protect your content:
- Always publish content to your website at least a week before your share it elsewhere. It usually helps the search engines identify your piece as the original. But it may not work if the other website is more powerful, or for other reasons.
- Alter the shared text at least a little bit, so it is not a complete copy of the original.
- Use backlinks to your website to show the search engines where the content comes from.
Hope these tips have been helpful! In any case, to clear your website from duplicate content, you can always contact our web support service Drudesk that deals with any kinds of website improvements. We hope that, instead of doubling your content, you can double your profits! ;)