After our live training last Thursday on The Complete SEO Audit, I have received several follow-up questions about one important area of SEO: Duplicate content. In this article, I’ll review what we covered in the training and go into a little more detail so make sure your website isn’t suffering in the search results due to duplicate content issues.
Why Is Duplicate Content a Problem?
First, let’s address the question why is duplicate content a problem with SEO? Once you understand the problem from Google’s perspective, then I promise this will all make a whole heck of a lot more sense.
I’ll use an example that I’m sure we all can relate to. Let’s say you just finished a book and you want to find a new one to read. You send a quick email to your friends (or post to Facebook) asking them for suggestions and then you anxiously await their replies.
In this example, the best possible outcome is to get several different book titles that you can review and decide which one to read. The worst possible outcome would be to get the same exact book title from all of your friends and upon reviewing that title decide it’s not for you. In other words, you want to get a variety of different options in order to maximize the chances that you’ll find a book that fits your criteria.
This is similar to Google’s approach to their search results page. Google knows if they give their searchers 10 webpages that are nearly identical, then that severely hurts their chances of providing the searcher with the information that fits her criteria. How frustrating would it be to click on all 10 webpages in the search results only to find the same information?
To combat this problem, Google’s algorithm prevents duplicate pages from showing up for the same search phrases. That means, if your page is nearly identical to another webpage online (either on your site or on another website), then only one of those pages will rank in Google.
How to Check for Duplicate Content
There are a lot of tools out there to check for duplicate content.
The two I recommend are:
In both tools, you copy/paste your website URL into the search bar and click “Go” to run a duplicate content check. In many cases, you will find some duplicate content so now let’s talk about how to fix it.
How to Fix Duplicate Content
At this point I know you’re hoping I’m going to give you the one, quick-and-easy, push-button solution. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy and the correct solution depends on your situation. Here are some possible solutions to help you make the best choice:
- 301 Redirect. A 301 redirect would automatically forward people from one duplicate page to the other. By 301 redirecting, you effectively eliminate the duplicate content because now there is only 1 page that can be accessed online.
- No Index. You can add <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” /> to one of the duplicate pages to tell all search engines you do not want the page included in their index. In this case, you’re not redirecting the traffic; You’re simply removing one of the pages from being considered in the search results.
- Rel=canonical. Finally, a third option is to use the rel=canonical tag on your duplicate pages. This tag tells search engines which URL of your duplicate pages should be included in the search results. The code to add is <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.yourdomain.com/the-url-you-want-to-rank-in-Google.html” />.
As you can see, all 3 options are fairly technical so I recommend talking with your web developer to see which one makes the most sense for your website.
Are There Other Issues Preventing You From Ranking In Google?
Duplicate content is just one of many issues that could be hurting your rankings in Google. If you think there may be other problems with your website, then you need to conduct an SEO audit.
We can help with our very affordable SEO Audit service that includes:
- Comprehensive 28-point SEO Audit, covering on-page and off-page factors, as well as local, social, mobile and analytics
- SEO Report Card with grades on each factor, so you can immediately see which areas of your SEO need work, plus tips on how to improve 30-minute
- SEO Consultation with an SEO Expert to get answers to all of your questions about SEO
To get started, click here and we’ll have your Audit complete within 2 weeks.