It’s a common problem many digital marketers face when polishing up a website and making it more accessible to search engines.
In fact, “29% of pages have duplicate content” based on a recent study carried out by Raven Tools. Although common, it can be difficult to spot if you don’t have the right tools in place to monitor such issues. This blog post explores duplicate content and how to check your website isn’t just repeating itself.
First things first, what is duplicate content?
Duplicate content is large blocks of content which lies in more than one place online. This content can be found within or across numerous domains and it can be identical or even “appreciably similar” according to Google’s official definition.
Duplicate content is often mistakenly magnified as a google penalty and while there is data to suggest duplicate content can negatively impact your search engine rankings, you shouldn’t immediately panic “unless its intent is to manipulate search results,” as Patrick Stox puts it.
Nevertheless duplicate content is something that needs to be identified quickly and fixed if you want to outrank your competitors in the search results.
Why is duplicate content such an issue?
Duplicate content can be a headache for search engines and site owners for the following reasons:
Search engines are extremely clever but they’re not psychic. If they are presented with the identical pages, with identical content, they don’t know which page you consider to be more important and therefore the best page to rank for an appropriate search term.
If presented with duplicate content, search engines are unable to know which version to include or exclude from their indices and they don’t know whether to send all the quality link metrics (such as trust and authority) to one single page or split it between the multiple versions.
Site owners can suffer from a loss in rank and ultimately traffic if their pages suffer from duplicate content. Rather than showing multiple versions of the same page to users, search engines will decide for themselves which is the better page and therefore dilute the visibility of all other versions – even if it is more relevant.
And it’s not just search engines that have to make that decision. Other websites also have to make a wild guess on which page is the best one to link to and if different websites choose different versions, your link equity is once again diluted. Inbound links are a quality ranking factor so this can also negatively impact the search visibility of a piece of content.
How can you check if your website has duplicate content?
There are many tools to help you identify issues with duplicate content. Our go-to is Moz, a great piece of software for smarter ways to improve search marketing. When setting up a campaign with Moz, you are able to access lots of their clever resources such as Crawl Diagnostics. Once you have set up your campaign, it may take a week or so for Moz to gather all the relevant data. After this time, you can check the “Issues Overview” section within Crawl Diagnostics and you are then able to filter all “High Priority Issues” (this includes duplicate content). Once this filter is checked, all the pages on your website with duplicate content will show up.
Alternatively, there are a number of free plagiarism checker tools available online which allows you to input large pieces of content so it can detect any instances of duplication or plagiarism. You could also simply copy and paste a piece of text and search within a search engine such a Google and see if it comes up with another page or location with an identical or similar piece of content.
Now you know how to find duplicate content, it’s time to fix it. Our helpful blog post on how to solve issues with duplicate content identifies various solutions depending on the root cause of the issue.
If you fancy a more detailed guide then Neil Patel’s definitive guide to removing duplicate content covers the steps for uniqueness and clarity in your website pages and overall structure. Or if you would rather the experts do the hard work, contact our friendly team and let us help you with duplicate content or any other SEO related issues which are affecting your website.