Duplicate content happens when content appears on the web in more than one unique website address or URL. Content, when duplicated, isn’t exactly a cause for a penalty; however, when there are pieces of it that appears similar in more than one place on the internet, search engines will have a hard time deciding which one is more relevant to a search query.
Why is Duplicate Content a Big Deal?
Duplicate content can cause problems for search engines as they won’t know which one will be included or excluded from their indices. Directing link metrics like link equity, anchor text, authority, and trust will also become a problem; search engines won’t know whether to put it all in multiple areas or in one page. In a way, Google will be “confused” which version should be ranked.
For site owners, duplicate content will cause traffic losses and lower rankings. Google for one rarely shows multiple versions of the same content. This means the search engine is forced to choose which version appears to be better. As a result, other pages with similar content won’t be visible in SERPs.
Further, link equity is as good as gone due to the fact that other sites have to choose which version is the best. Instead of directing all inbound links to one page, they have to link it to a lot of places, thereby spreading the link equity among the duplicates.
Site owners know for a fact that inbound links weighs so much when it comes to ranking. If links are scattered, visibility is diluted.
Mending Issues on Duplicate Content
A clear fix on duplicate content issues is to avoid copying content at all cost. Content does not only include editorial content or blog posts, but also information on products. A single Google search will show you thousands of similar results, so if you’re writing a copy, make sure to present a unique idea or angle if it has already been covered.
You’ll often see blog posts published over and over again on different multiple sites, but duplicate content also happens in eCommerce sites via product information. Online vendors often sell similar products and they wind up using the product information provided by the manufacturer. If you own an eCommerce site, make sure your info stands out among the rest.
Many website owners don’t realize that having separate versions of their site — site.com and www.site.com — is one of the reasons why duplicate content happens, especially if there is similar content in both versions. The same goes with sites that maintain both an http:// and an https://.
Duplicate content can be both intentional and unintentional. If you’re a site owner, remember never to scrape content and be careful not to host the exact same information in your site. Always check.