Any digital marketer will tell you that content is king. However, any good digital marketer or agency will tell you that high-quality content is necessary to improve search ranking, conversions, and website engagement. A critical piece of any content strategy is limiting and managing any duplicate content on your website.
However, many small businesses may not be totally aware of what search engines like Google consider duplicated content, how it exactly duplicate content impacts SEO, and what is needed to minimize duplicate content on your site.
What is duplicate content? How does it affect my website’s SEO?
Google’s definition of duplicate content is broad, which means that it doesn’t just related to content that is exactly the same across all webpages. According to Google, any duplicated content is “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.”
However, it is important to understand that not all duplicated content is necessarily malicious. For example, many e-commerce sites could have pages with identical text when itemizing similar products as well as online discussion and forum pages. Duplicate content is not uncommon on the internet with early estimates suggesting nearly 25-30% of all website content is considered duplicate.
So why should digital marketers and small businesses care about using the same content multiple times? The short answer is this: duplicate content is likely to confuse Google and potentially rank lower-quality pages over higher-quality ones. Sites with content that isn’t properly canonicalized may struggle to individually index their pages. Per Google:
Google tries hard to index and show pages with distinct information. This filtering means, for instance, that if your site has a “regular” and “printer” version of each article, and neither of these is blocked with a noindex meta tag, we’ll choose one of them to list. In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.
Unless you use a canonical or parent URL to add distinction to pages with similar content, Google is simply going to pick and choose which page to rank first.
What should I do to limit duplicate content on my site?
If you believe you need to limit or address duplicated content on your website, try using the following tactics first to make sure your pages don’t cannibalize each other for search rankings.:
- Use canonical URLs whenever you have pages with nearly identical content
- Use 301 redirects to not only navigate users to your ideal webpages but also Googlebots and other indexing algorithms
- Leverage Google Search Console to tell Google how you want certain webpages to be indexed on your website
- Use noindex and nofollow tags whenever you’re creating private landing pages or placeholder pages
- Try and create original content whenever possible for new pages, blog posts, and other website features
If you’re not sure what your next steps are try contacting Boston Web Marketing today! Try our free SEO audit to see how we can help your pages get to those coveted number #1 spots on Google!