SEO Best Practices: What is Duplicate Content?
By Small Screen Producer. Publish on February 10, 2014.
What is Duplicate Content?
Duplicate content is content that appears on other places online (under different URLs) in an effort to boost keyword density or traffic. An example of duplicate content would be a page offering a “printer friendly” version of an article or a news aggregator that collects headlines and content from different sources online without making changes to text. Additionally, duplicate content can take form on one single website. For example, products displayed by alphabetical order on an index page of a website AND displayed by price on another page.
When there are multiple places with the same identical content, it can be confusing to search engines trying to figure out the best and most relevant site to link to when given a search query. In order to provide the best search engine experience to the user, often times search engines will never show pages with the same exact content and are forced to choose the page most likely to be the original site.
The Issues with Duplicate Content
What web masters and content marketers need to is:
- Search engines don’t know which pages to choose or exclude in search query results.
- Search engines don’t know which page to direct the link metrics to (trust, authority, link credit, etc.)
Essentially: Duplicate content essentially downgrades your content value. Since search engines prefer content that is different and one-of-a-kind from everyone else, they’ll rank those rather than sifting through multiple pages of content and trying to figure it out. Original content is what will help you compete with competitors.
Google’s Take on Duplicate Content
Google’s Matt Cutts explained back in July 2013 that duplicate content was nothing “to stress about,” unless that duplicate content was stuffed with keywords and spammy.
Google understands that not every piece of duplicate content spam. Duplicate content happens, and about 20-35% of all content on the web is considered duplicate content. The only time duplicate content would ever be flagged down or penalized as such is if Google notices that the content is being generated in a deceptive, malicious, "black hat" way that adds no value whatsoever to the reader.
Duplicate Content Best Practices
According to Google, acceptable forms of duplicate content include:
- Printer friendly versions of web pages
- Discussion forums that create “strip down” versions for mobile devices
- Store items or products linked via other sources with distinct URLs
To combat the common issues that duplicate content can present, but can be remedied with implementing a few best practices:
- Recognize all duplicate content on your site and remove it if you can through Google Webmaster tools (Google and Bing)
- Determine preferred URLs in Google Webmaster tools (is it https://www.smallscreenproducer.com? Or www.smallscreenproducer.com/index)
- Be consistent within your website. Google doesn’t consider navigation, header and footer as “duplicate content,” because they, Yahoo, and Bing are familiar with the typical layouts of websites. Just make sure it looks the same on every page and make sure you're using consistent links for anchor text and linking pages.
- Apply 301 redirects when they apply or when necessary
- Choose your “preferred” version of your content pages by using the URL parameter in Google Webmaster Tools, the canonical tag, "noindex, follow" meta robot tags, or 301 redirects (ask your web master about this).
In addition to all of the above, what is preferred most by Google is original content. Content that sets you apart from the rest and isn’t re-purposed from other sources. Penalties only arise when Google sees that there are hundreds of pages from other domains on your site, but not enough original content of your own. The biggest issue Google has with duplicate content is figuring out what pages to refer to when providing results to search queries and this is often fixed with just a few web programming tweaks.
About Small Screen Producer
Small Screen Producer is a full service, marketing firm located in Houston, Texas that specializes in online digital media marketing through a 4-step process. Step 1: WE PLAN a custom web presence strategy for your business through website design and development, mobile development, social media account creation and branding. STEP 2: We then POSITION your brand through Pay-Per-Click advertising and search engine optimize tactics that include on-page and off-page SEO that are Google and Bing approved. STEP 3: We then PROMOTE your brand using an Inbound marketing strategy or a content marketing strategy to help you accomplish your marketing goals. We do this through blogging, video production, infographics, call-to-actions, landing pages, and free educational offers. We help you build trust and rapport with your customer base. STEP 4: We then PROTECT your brand's web presence with a reputation management program that monitors social media and on line reviews. Get started today with a free online marketing assessment of your company's web presence. Your company deserves it.
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